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From boys to eagles -- Childhood friends achieve highest Scouting rank together
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George Gagel, left in the blue shirt, leads fellow Boy Scouts in completing his Eagle Scout service project, a privacy fence for Marcella's Community Safe House. - photo by Special

‘Be a leader, but lead only toward the best. Lift up every task you do and every office you hold to the high level of service to God and to your fellow man... (L)eave behind you a record of which every Scout may be justly proud.’

Excerpt from the Eagle Scout Charge

    Three young men were recently honored for achieving the highest Boy Scout rank in a triple Eagle Scout ceremony.
    George Gagel, Heath Aldredge and Christopher Koehler of Statesboro First United Methodist Church’s Boy Scout Troop 332 met the requirements and earned the high honor.
    What makes this occasion especially unusual, besides the fact that only
4 percent of all Boy Scouts earn the Eagle rank, is the trio’s scouting history.
    Gagel, son of George Gagle and Kelly Gagel; Aldredge, son of Mike and Ginny Aldredge; and Koehler, son of Brian and Amanda Koehler, met as Cub Scouts, when Gagel and Aldredge were in third grade and Koehler was in second.
    The three quickly became friends and spent time together in Scouting activities as well as outside of Scouts. Much of that time was spent at summer camps, weekend campouts and service project outings over the years to meet the requirements for their ultimate goal of becoming Eagle Scouts.
    To achieve Scouting’s highest rank and lifetime designation, a Boy Scout must earn at least 21 merit badges and complete an Eagle Scout leadership service project.
    The Eagle project must demonstrate leadership of others and provide service to a worthy institution, such as a church, school or community organization. The Scout must complete a detailed plan, raise the funds to complete the project, enlist the volunteer assistance of other individuals and manage the completion of the project.
    Gagel, Aldredge and Koehler chose to coordinate their Eagle Scout service projects to benefit the same organization: Marcella’s Community Safe House, a shelter serving at-risk girls in Bulloch County.
    After conferring with the shelter’s director to evaluate needs, the boys formulated plans and organized projects to benefit the shelter. Under Gagel’s leadership, Scouts and volunteers built a privacy fence for Marcella’s. Aldredge led others in building a lawn equipment storage shelter for Marcella’s, and, with Koehler’s project, Scouts and volunteers furnished a patio and picnic tables for the shelter.
    Years of Scouting that included dedication and commitment, hard work and persistence, service hours and leadership — and lots of time of just plain fun — culminated with the Eagle Scout Court of Honor ceremony Feb. 6 at First United Methodist.
    Scoutmaster Brian Koehler, the father of Christopher Koehler, led the ceremony and reminded those in attendance that scouting has a profound impact on young men’s lives.
    “Of any 100 boys who become Scouts, rarely will one ever appear before a juvenile court judge,” Brian Koehler said. “Twelve of the 100 will be from families who have no religious affiliation. Through scouting, these 12 and many of their families will be brought into contact with a church and will continue to be active all their lives. Six of the 100 will enter the ministry. Many will serve in the military and, in varying degrees, profit from their Scout training. At least one will use their scouting skills to save another person’s life. Seventeen of the 100 boys will later become Scout leaders and will give back leadership to thousands of additional boys.
    “Only one in four boys in America will become a Scout,” he added, “but it is interesting to know that of the leaders of this nation in business, religion and politics, three out of four were Scouts.”
    Koehler noted that his son is a fourth-generation Scout and third-generation Eagle Scout and that many in Christopher’s mother’s family were former Scouts. The scoutmaster read an excerpt from a letter printed in his grandfather’s Boy Scouts of America Handbook, copyright 1911.
    The letter was signed by Col. Theodore Roosevelt, the former U.S. president, and says: “I quite agree with Judge Lindsey that the Boy Scouts Movement is of peculiar importance to the whole country. It has already done much good, and it will do far more, for it has in its essence a practical scheme through which to impart a proper standard of ethical conduct, proper standards of fair play and consideration to others, and courage and decency, to boys who have never been reached and never will be reached by the ordinary type of preaching, lay or clerical.”
    The young men were challenged with the responsibility and obligation to live with honor, loyalty, courage, cheerfulness and service.
    Eagle Scout Stefan Minton presented the boys with the Eagle Scout Charge, saying in part: “Our country has had a great past. You are here to make the future greater. I charge you to undertake your citizenship with a solemn dedication. Be a leader, but lead only towards the best. Lift up every task you do and every office you hold to the high level of service to God and to your fellow man.
    “I charge you,” he continued, “to be among those who dedicate their skills and ability to the common good. Build America on the solid foundations of clean living, honest work, unselfish citizenship and reverence for God, and whatever others say or may do, you leave behind you a record of which every Scout may be justly proud.”
    First United Methodist has supported and sponsored a Boy Scout Troop since 1959. With the addition of the three most recent Eagle Scouts, a plaque that hangs in the church now proclaims 60 names of boys who have achieved that prestigious rank.

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