Scouting continues as Rippeon family tradition with awarding of Eagle rank

There were 13 candles lit on the table at the head of the room at Calvary United Methodist Church in Gamber on Saturday, with plentiful ribbons hanging from the ceiling and plenty of people filling the rows of folding chairs. A large sign on the wall identified this as the gathering place of Boy Scout Troop 735.

This was the Court of Honor for Ryan Rippeon, 17, of Westminster, and it was held to formally mark his attainment of the rank of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America. It was a cold afternoon outside the doors, but it was warm in that room — due not just to the heating, but also to the warmth of feeling, like a family gathering, of those who had come out to witness something special.


"Troop 735 is definitely like a big family, an extended family," said Teresa Rippeon, Ryan's mother.

Teresa stood beside Ryan at the head of that room and attached his Eagle Scout pin to his uniform, and she also received a Parent's Pin recognizing her Eagle Scout. There was another Parent's Pin, the pin for Ryan's father, and this one was given to Ryan.

Ryan's father, Vernon "Rick" Rippeon, died in June, at the age of 51, during a Father's Day hike in New Hampshire with Troop 735. He was the troop's assistant scoutmaster and former scoutmaster, though he never made Eagle Scout himself.

"I think he would be very proud," Ryan said in an interview after the ceremony. "He really regretted not doing it himself, and he really got involved with us individually. I think it would have been a great thing for him."

His father's death was not an easy thing to understand, Ryan said, but the lessons he learned from Boy Scouts, about leadership and perseverance — as well as the community of his follow Scouts — helped him through it.

"It's very supportive," he said. "We have a great troop: There's a lot of quality people in this troop, and we all help each other out."

Rick Rippeon loved Scouting, according to Troop 735 Scoutmaster Gunnar Burdt, and he would have been proud to know Ryan has now been named the junior assistant scoutmaster in addition to earning his Eagle Scout badge.

"It's great to see Ryan carry on his dad's wishes and legacy of what he wanted," Burdt said. "His dad was a scoutmaster before me, so I took over for his dad. His dad trained me, I trained Ryan, his dad trained Ryan, so it's just nice to see that tradition carry on."

In his speech at the end of the ceremony, Ryan moved to start a tradition of his own. Ryan's 13-year-old brother, Patrick, is also a Scout with Troop 735, and Ryan passed on to Patrick a special coin he had received — a token that is intended to be passed on to another Eagle Scout as an inspiration to do something challenging.

"I decided to give it to my brother, and I obviously want to guide and mentor him," Ryan said. "I told him, when he becomes an Eagle Scout, he should pass it down to someone else that he would help guide and mentor."

Patrick is working on his Architecture Merit Badge and was already planning on becoming an Eagle Scout one day. After seeing his older brother receive his pin at the Court of Honor, Patrick said he is more inspired than ever to continue the family tradition.

"I do plan on achieving [Eagle Scout], I think it would be very cool," he said. "In my dad's honor, I think I should do that."