By Charlene McDonald
They called themselves the “Eagle Patrol:” The name would turn out to be prophetic.
Six young men — Alexander Adams, Evan Hoyt, Cameron Hoyt, Devin McDonald, Ashish Nag and Kees Vanderwyk — were honored Sunday at Lakehills Covenant Church for achieving the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest rank in Boy Scouting. All belong to El Dorado Hills Troop 454. Two other members of the Eagle Patrol, Michael Tharratt and Joshua Verner, made Eagle rank two years earlier and were there to participate in the ceremony.
Nationally only 3 to 5 percent of registered Boy Scouts ever earn this honor.
There was a reason so many boys were honored at a single ceremony; they were waiting for one of their own to be well enough to participate in his Eagle Court of Honor. Last July Devin was diagnosed with a serious form of brain cancer called medulloblastoma. During the past year he has undergone extensive treatment, including surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, in an effort to treat the disease. Devin’s close friends in the Eagle patrol, all of Troop 454 and Venturing Crew 454, as well as his family and friends, have been there for him every step of the way. They have proven to be loyal, trustworthy and helpful — all values promoted by the Scout Law.
Devin graduated with his senior class at Oak Ridge High School in May, despite having spent more than 100 days in the hospital and being very sick much of the time while at home. Not a day of his senior year was spent on campus; instead he studied at home with home and hospital teacher Brooke Ryan. He also finished his Eagle project paperwork (no small task) while undergoing treatment.
Richard Ziman and other adult leaders took the time to offer special help. Devin himself has exemplified many aspects of the Scout Law during this trying year, as his friends, doctors and nurses can attest. He has remained friendly, courteous, kind, obedient (to treatment protocol — a virtue rarely seen in older male teenage cancer patients) as well as cheerful (well mostly) and brave throughout. Devin completed his last cycle of chemotherapy at the end of May; his prognosis is good, and he plans to attend CSU Sacramento part-time in the fall.
Congressman Tom McClintock, from California’s 4th District, was Sunday’s Court of Honor’s special guest speaker. Before a crowd of approximately 250 Scouts, family members and friends McClintock said being an Eagle Scout was not about metals, patches or pins; it was all about character. He said he was impressed at how all eight boys rallied together when Devin became ill and that they have developed a special friendship that will last a lifetime. He compared them to a “band of brothers.” The congressman then presented Certificates of Special Recognition to each of the boys from the United States Congress.
Another highlight of the program was a video clip/photo collage created by Marti Adams. Alexander, Devin, Cameron, Evan, Ashish and Kees discussed what it meant to be an Eagle Scout. They laughingly related some of their favorite camping stories: the time Devin and Kees woke up in the middle of the night to find a snake in their tent; or the time Kees knocked Evan out with the boom while learning to sail. In another clip they expressed gratitude to all the adults who’ve been special mentors to them over the years.
Each boy was presented with a red, white and blue Eagle Scout neckerchief and neckerchief slide, the Eagle Metal, Patch, Knot and a certificate from the National Council, Boy Scouts of America. Mothers and fathers received Eagle Scout parent pins from their sons.
Mementos of each boy’s Cub and Boy Scout experiences were displayed. Included were Eagle Scout Binders, which certify merit badges earned (a minimum of 21 are “Eagle required”) and highlight each boys’ community service project. One of the many requirements for achieving Eagle rank is to recognize a community need, design and win approval for the project, raise any necessary funds, serve as project manager throughout and complete the project with the aid of fellow Scouts of all ages. Devin’s and Kees’ individual projects benefited the Grace Foundation of Northern California. Cameron’s, Evan’s and Ashish’s projects each benefited Silva Valley Elementary School. Alexander taught lifesaving anti-choking rescue techniques to various community groups.
Other items displayed were Eagle Scout Commendation Binders: collections of congratulatory letters from current and former presidents and vice-presidents, members of the Cabinet and Congress, Supreme Court justices, law enforcement (FBI, CIA etc.), religious leaders (e.g., the Pope), famous astronauts, entrepreneurs, business leaders, and television and sports personalities. Also on display were special Scouting-related heirlooms, other mementos of the boys’ Cub and Boy Scouting years, (such as favorite photos and patches, pinewood derby cars and “raingutter regatta” boats), as well as U.S. flags flown over the California State Capitol in honor of the boys’ achievement.
A general reception of cookies and punch followed the ceremony. A second celebration followed at the home of Tim and Marti Adams.