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Reaching for Eagle worth the trouble

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Skyline High School students Wyatt Karnes, 16, left, Thomas Harrison, 17, and Nathan Ritchie, 19, are Eagle Scouts. — Courtesy photo

Warren County teens earn highest award in Boy Scouts

By Josette Keelor -- jkeelor@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- For his Eagle Scout award, Wyatt Karnes, 16, worked with Warren County and the Rotary Club of Linden to build a picnic shelter at Linden Park, which turned out to be one of his favorite -- and most frustrating -- experiences in the Boy Scouts of America.

He had help with the construction, but the planning, execution and organization was all his own responsibility.

From the time he joined the scouts at age 11, he wanted that Eagle Scout award.
"It was the goal from the very beginning," said the Skyline High School junior, "and it felt really good."

Now that he has it, he looks back fondly on the experience.

"The trail there is a lot of work ... but you can get it done, and it's worth getting done," he said.

Karnes and two other scouts, Nathan Ritchie, 19, and Thomas Harrison, 17, also Skyline students, earned their awards at a ceremony on March 10 at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Front Royal.

Ritchie had to hustle to finish his Eagle Scout project because he was only a few weeks shy of his 18th birthday, the official cut-off line for scouts to achieve the award -- the highest honor in Boy Scouts, according to www.scouting.org.

His project -- repairing, fixing and painting a two-story deck at the women's shelter in Front Royal -- almost didn't happen because he committed to the project so late.

But with determination and a little help from his friends, family and fellow scouts, he made it happen.

Many colleges, universities and other institutions of higher learning award scholarships to Eagle Scouts, but the award's recognition comes with a cost -- so few scouts actually make it that far.

Around the world only 5 percent of all Boy Scouts earned the Eagle Scout rank in 2010, the website says.

Karnes estimated maybe 2 percent of Boy Scouts in the U.S. achieve theirs each year.
"It's a pretty small percentage," he said. But being in rare company makes the achievement all the more admirable.

He hopes his award will open doors for him as he pursues a college education.

"I figure it will probably help me with jobs because it's more work-oriented," Karnes said. He sings in the school choir and participates in the Skyline theater program, but in his heart he's a Boy Scout.

"It's my most prominent after-school activity."

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