Three generations, three Eagle Scouts
Three generations of Eagle Scout recipients isn't any every day occurence.Those generations being a part of the same scout troop and living in the same town is also a rarity.
Joe Wells, 81, his son, Eric Wells, 46, and third generation member, Jake Wells, 17, who is the son of Eric and Terri Wells, are Eagle Scouts. The Eagle award is the highest accomplishment for boy scouts.
Several years ago Joe Wells was a scoutmaster for Troop 132 in Rutherfordton, the same troop Eric was a member of when he received his Eagle Scout award and where Jake is a member today.Eric is an assistant scoutmaster in Jake's troop.
"Getting to be a leader in the troup I grew up in is one of the best things about scouting today," Eric said.
Jake became the latest family member to receive boy scouting's highest honor. On Jan. 26 leaders of Boy Scout Troop 132 presented the Eagle Scout Award to Jake.
Jake presented a Mentor Pin to his grandfather Joe Wells during the ceremony.
"Pretty poignant," Joe said of the honor.
During his scouting career, Jake has earned 25 merit badges and held various leadership positions in the troop including Senior Patrol Leader which is the youth leader for the entire troop. He has earned the Triple Crown Award for attending all three Boy Scout of America high adventure bases — Northern Tier, Philmont and Florida's Sea Base.
Eric and Jake both attended the three high adventure trips. Eric is also a recipient of the Triple Crown Award.
The high adventure trips did not exist when Joe was growing up in scouts but he hiked Philmont with Eric when Eric was a young scout. Eric also hiked Philmont with Jake.
Jake's Eagle project was to collect donations and assemble "Second Aid" Kits containing personal hygiene items and distribute them throughout the county. He organized the collection and packing of the 275 kits through a variety of groups including church youth groups, Trinity Christian School, his own Boy Scout Troop and a local Girl Scout Troop.
His Eagle project will continue as it has been adopted and will be continued continued by the youth group at First Methodist Church, Rutherfordton and the National Honor Society at Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy.
When Joe was a scout in Haywood County, the Eagle Award was based on an accumulation of merit badges and scouts didn't have to do a specific scout project.
"I grew up in a country scout troop," Joe said. "One of my greatest experiences was going back to the camp later to work."
Eric's Eagle project in the 1980s was cutting firewood for two families who depended on wood for heat.
From boy scouting came a passion for hiking and in 1990 Joe and Eric hiked the entire Appalachian Trail.
"A large part of the drive to do that was Scouts," Eric said. "Our troop had done a lot of backpacking so we decided to go."
Jake hopes to hike some of the trail in the future.
Among the highlights of Jake's scouting career was being a crew leader at Philmont.
"I was in charge of 10 youths and two adults for the 10 day trek ... that is something that will always stick with me," he said.
Eric said a highlights of his career was working four summers at Boy Scout Camp Daniel Boone in Waynesville.
"I was paid and got room and board," he said. "I couldn't believe I was being paid to hike, raft, swim, kayak . . .all those things."
Joe Wells said he is a better person for having been a scout. "You learn leadership skills and the friendships you make at camp. . . we still follow up with each other.
"You teach young men to be leaders."
Eric and the other scoutmasters for Troop 132 have a "whole group of scouts coming in," Eric said. "They've got everything to learn. It is exciting. They are excited," Eric said.
"While everyone can be an Eagle .. everyone won't be an Eagle."
It will be 2014 before its time for Troop 132 to send out another group to Philmont.
"The trip is expensive and it takes leadership and dedication on the parts of leaders," Eric said. "It's difficult to get leaders."
That is nothing new, Joe told Eric. "It's always been difficult to get scout leaders. It takes a lot of commitment."
"We laugh about, 'It just takes an hour a week,'" Eric said.
Eric said as he was looking through the pages the troop's history to talk about the three generational story, "I saw the community of Rutherfordton grow up through scouting."