Scout becomes Eagle by aiding church


Most often a new pastor meets his congregation at services, where everyone is dressed in Sunday best.

Shortly after the Rev. Richard McCullough arrived at Wesley Freedom United Methodist in Eldersburg last year, he found one of his most energetic members, a 15-year-old Boy Scout, hard at work on the grounds of the church's new addition.

Instead of the sanctuary on Sunday, the pastor first found Brian C. Earp raking stones, clearing brush and enthusiastically directing several others in a landscaping project.

"We had just finished construction of the new church and the landscaping was not down yet," Mr. McCullough said. "Brian was taking care of it."

Brian had decided to clean up the church grounds as the service project required to earn his Boy Scout Eagle badge.

"He put a lot of thought, preparation and care into the project," the pastor said.

Brian organized a work crew of 30, from a 3-year-old toddler to one Scout's 70-year-old grandfather.

"I sent out fliers to ask for help with my project," said Brian, now 16 and a sophomore at South Carroll High. "Scouts, friends and family, especially my parents, all helped."

He calculated "144 man-hours" in his project, when he wrote his report for a Boy Scout Board of Review.

"I included the names of everyone who helped and all the materials we used," he said.

Along with Brian, the volunteers spread 30 yards of mulch, cleared scrub trees from a grove and disposed of all the yard waste.

"We couldn't have expected much more from professional landscapers," said Mr. McCullough. "The job reflects his thoughtfulness and is reflective of Brian in other aspects of his life."

Last week, at the same church, Brian received his Eagle badge in a ceremony attended by about 100 people. Mr. McCullough gave the invocation.

Several members of his Troop 883 served as the Eagle Court of Honor. Assistant Scout Master Tom Field read a list of Brian's accomplishments, which included 21 merit badges and leadership service.

Among the speakers was Ruth Schneehagen, who encouraged Brian to join Boy Scouts when he was her first-grade student 10 years ago.

"Scouting has always been important in my family," said Ms. Schneehagen, who has been teaching in the county for 23 years. "I like to get children interested at an early age."

Every year, she invites Boy Scouts to speak to her first-grade students at Freedom Elementary. The Scouts introduce the young children to the advantages of their organization.

"Brian listened to the Scouts and wanted to join right away," she said. "Once he was a Scout, I asked him to return every year and speak to my class."

Brian came back to his elementary school all through middle school.

"He shared many of his beads and badges with me," said Ms. Schneehagen, who "always knew" that her former student would earn an Eagle badge.

For now, Brian plans to stay in the Scouts and work toward the Eagle Palms merit badges. A straight-A student, he also plays trumpet in the South Carroll Marching Band and is a member of the tennis team.

"Scouting is a lot of fun and in it, you learn things to help you in the long run," he said.

Brian said he hopes his leadership skills and outdoor training will help him secure an appointment to the Air Force Academy after he graduates from high school.

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