In Family Stories

In the fall of 2017, Caleb casually started talking about getting his Eagle Scout Rank with the Boy Scouts of America. The timing wasn’t too surprising since his younger brother, Jared, had his Eagle Court of Honor. Then, in January, right before we moved from Loveland, CO to Milliken, CO, he became more serious about it. If you have not had a son go for his eagle before, I’ll let you know that this is just about as last minute as you can get. It certainly didn’t help that we were moving again after being in Loveland for a mere 11 months and lived in the house in Falcon, CO prior to that for about 16 months.

To set the stage, Caleb was 17 in January and his birthday is August 20. He was a Star Scout for years. This is basically the scout version of a hail Mary.

Right away, he started talking with his leaders in Loveland to make sure that he could get what he could ready in the days before we moved. We also got in touch with the new scout leaders before we moved and warned them what was coming- what we were trying to accomplish.

Let’s just say this year has been a roller coaster supporting, coaching, mentoring, and eventually pushing Caleb toward his goal.

Caleb is a deep thinker, so he spends his time really getting to know and understand everything that really matters to him. He doesn’t take it lightly. He doesn’t like to get by with the bare minimum. If he can’t go all in, he sometimes doesn’t want to get involved at all. There are pros and cons to this. The pro is that when he does something, you know that put all that he has to offer into it. The con is that it can take longer and appears to be procrastinating while he really is working hard studying out the options and their consequences.

So, what happened? He got his Life Rank at the last minute- as in if he got it a day later, he couldn’t earn his eagle even if he did everything else right.

Then, he spent months studying the project he REALLY, REALLY wanted to do. It ended up being too complicated. He talked with the district Eagle coach (let’s call him Rob) that not only guides kids toward feasible projects that people need, he gets to approve the projects. Caleb knew he couldn’t put his heart in to any of the suggested projects. What to do? He mulled that around for a few weeks.

He decided to work with Billion Graves to take photos of all the graves at a Longmont, CO cemetery. On August 13, 2018, Caleb met with “Rob” to get the thumbs up or the thumbs down on his project. I got to sit there during their meeting to keep the meeting 2 deep- Boy Scouts requires that 2 adults be present when there is a boy having any type of meeting with an adult. In my opinion, Caleb struggled through this meeting and Rob wasn’t confident that his was an eagle quality project- even though hundreds of boys have done a project like this. We left wondering if doing this project would even be worth it and 6 days 21 hours left before he had to turn in the project.

Right after Caleb received approval, we picked up our family and started working on the project until it was dark- cemeteries don’t like people loitering after dark for some reason. LOL

The next day, we were back at it. My mom joined us and others who have supported other eagle candidates on their projects transcribed the pictures as they came in.

By Wednesday afternoon, Caleb’s project was at the top of the leader board for photos taken.


On Thursday, August 13, we went back to the cemetery. On the way there, our Ford Expedition decided to stop completely in the middle of a 2 lane highway with a 65 mph speed limit. I was able to pull over and sit for a while. Then, the vehicle took us the cemetery where we met my nephew, We went to work on the project until dark.

When it was time to go, we literally got stuck on inside the cemetery and couldn’t coax our vehicle to go to the exit on the opposite side.

Living on adrenaline the whole week, I didn’t get pictures of us feeling stuck at a cemetery after dark!

Earlier in the week, the other 2 cars decided that they could no longer hold onto  power steering fluid. We were going through a bottle of fluid per car per day.

Now, if it wasn’t crazy enough trying to pull off an eagle project and turn in ALL the paperwork in less than a week, Caleb thought that he didn’t have swimming, hiking, or biking merit badges. So, he scheduled a 20 mile hike along the Poudre Trail that starts in Greeley, CO and goes through Windsor, CO.

It ended up being a day long trip. Caleb was in pain when we were done because he didn’t work up to it.

Brent, my husband, hiked with him for about 4-5 miles and I did the rest. Brent also dropped by a few times to refill our water and snack supply. The total hike was 21.9 miles.

Here are some of the sites we saw (the last picture is from my Pebble watch showing how many steps I took that day- a personal record):

On Saturday, August 18, my parents and a couple of families from the scout troop came and helped in the morning. One of the adults happened to be his Scout Master, who informed Caleb that he could have looked at his records more closely because he had the swimming merit badge, making the hike on Friday unnecessary!

Can I say character building???

Then, in the evening, our family and Caleb’s institute director finished the project right as it got dark.

I make that sound easy. It wasn’t as easy as it sounds. During the week, my camera took pictures, but had problems so the pictures became corrupt and we had to re-take those pictures.

We constantly ran into dead batteries and our portable battery packs were old and didn’t help as much as we thought they would. So people had to sit out while their devices charged.

When it was sunny, it was hard to tell if the pictures were legible or not and some of the pictures that we thought were linked ended up getting separated some how- making it harder for transcribers and needing to take the pictures again.

I am very grateful that Caleb’s project only included taking pictures of the graves instead of including the transcriptions. I’m grateful for the families who did transcribe because it helped us to be better photographers.

Caleb ended up leaving the rest of the transcriptions to the public at large. I thank them as well, especially since some of the pictures weren’t linked.

Some time during the week, Caleb met with merit badge councilors to finish off merit badges. Late into the night on Saturday, August 18 to early Sunday, August 19, Caleb worked on finishing up other merit badges. He worked on them throughout Sunday afternoon even though he felt like a zombie. (I just realized that I forgot to mention that he worked on merit badges on Friday night after the hike, too). Sunday evening, Caleb’s leaders came over and looked over all the paperwork he had ready, quizzed him on the remaining merit badges, and his blue cards (all of them were there). They also offered tips for getting everything ready.

On Monday, I called the scout office and informed them that he would be submitting his eagle workbook. I was told that he needed to be there by 4:30 so the registrar could verify he had everything.

Caleb spent the day getting his paperwork together, verifying dates, contacting people who he thought would be willing to be references, and looking for blue cards that disappeared over night with the help of the entire family- our house got turned over very quickly trying to find the blue cards- some were signed the day before!!!! Fortunately, we found them all.

Caleb and I zipped to his leader’s house for the last signature. His other leader was out of town, so he had to obtain that electronically. He also had to get Billion Grave’s signature- they knew he was flying by the seat of his pants and were there waiting for the document to show up to sign. These people are incredible and I thank them for joining us on this adrenaline rushed project.

We arrived at the scout office at 4:28- two minutes to spare. The registrar went through his Eagle packet and saw that the date for his Life Rank was too close. When she said that, I just about got sick.

Fortunately, the scout records these days are much better than years past. We found the actual date for the Life Rank. Thanks to the invention of white out, the records were edited.

We took a picture of Caleb outside the scout office:

Has your son earned his Eagle or is he working on his project? What is/was your experience like? Did yours wait until the last minute like Caleb?

Please share your stories in the comments below. Your story may be of comfort or brighten another mom’s day!

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