LELAND – It took Kailen McNelis a decade to accomplish, but he found out he will become an Eagle Scout last week. The 18-year-old from Earlville joined scouting because his father thought it might be something he would be interested in.
“It was an awesome community of other boys my age and high adventure. Being able to learn new skills with each merit badge I earned was exciting, too” McNelis said Saturday.
He knew he could get to this point, but still finds it hard to believe. According to the Boy Scouts of America, only four percent of Scouts ever achieve the rank of Eagle. The requirements include 21 merit badges, plus the all important Eagle Scout Service Project. McNelis installed a full sized replica of a railroad car loading dock for the Mendota Museum and Historical Society. The construction and planning took himself and 13 others hours to complete.
“I wouldn’t have been able to do this without the help of the Mendota Museum and fellow scouts and adult leaders” McNelis added.
Ethan Eckman, of Leland, started scouting at 7, and grew up enjoying the outdoors. His grandfather also was a scout, and the opportunities scouting provides, like personal accomplishments, travel, and friendships, kept him involved for over a decade. Last Sunday Eckman found out he was to be promoted to Eagle Scout after eleven years.
“I certainly hoped I would be an Eagle Scout, but knew it would be a lot of work” Eckman said.
Eckman’s Eagle Scout Service Project was to help preserve some of the history of his hometown. The collection he gathered of items donated by members of the community featured 150 photos and memorabilia that filled four display cases inside a Leland business.
“My intention was to preserve history and encourage interest in Leland’s past” Eckman noted.