By Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer
Luke Baum, Chris Schmiesing and Thomas Schwinghamer have attained a rank that about 95 percent of Boy Scouts will not — they were awarded their Eagle Scout Award this year. Each of them joined scouting in Sauk Centre in first grade, as Tiger Scouts.
They all realize how many scouts don’t make it to Eagle. A number of different things motivated them to keep going. Schwinghamer’s grandpa, William Thomford of Long Prairie, was a Scout.
“He pushed me to stick with it,” Schwinghamer said.
He also noted that when enlisting in the military, a person “automatically moves up in leadership when they find out you’re an Eagle Scout.”
For Schmiesing, it was the prospect of being the first Eagle Scout in his family.
Baum was aiming for the satisfaction of achieving the highest rank in Scouting.
“The chances of getting a job increase if you’re an Eagle Scout,” Schwinghamer said. “They know that you can be a leader and handle responsibility. It’s a trust thing.”
They all agreed that they’ve worked for 12 years for the award and it’s paid off.
“We’re going to be recognized for it the rest of our lives,” they said.
Each of them has a variety and number of scouting memories that they look back on over the years. There was the big snowstorm during their first winter camp, near Brainerd. They had to try to start their own fires that day.
“One year at Camp Wilderness, there were storm sirens and tornado alarms three or four times,” Schwinghamer said. “From Cub Scouts on up, my favorite thing was the Iron Man competition.”
Schmiesing remembers having to chop down a tree, while Schwinghamer mentions a Ripley Rendezvous where they got to shoot all the guns.
Baum made a lot more trips than he remembered, including Florida’s Sea Base and a trip to the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam and Las Vegas.
The major requirement in earning the Eagle Scout rank is a project conceived, planned and executed by the scout.
In fall 2012, Baum painted, using a stencil he had made, “No dumping” more than 500 times on sidewalks around Sauk Centre. The paint was provided by the city.
Schwinghamer built bluebird houses with materials donated by Steiner Lumber and Centre Lumber. Most of them were put up next to CentraCare, with some going in at Lakeshore Estates assisted living and a few handed out in the community. The project was completed in January.
Schmiesing relandscaped the area around City Hall. He removed weeds and the old mulch, put down landscape fabric and new rock. He finished in August 2012.
Baum credits his dad, Scott, for being the biggest support.
“He helped me to prepare each step and was motivating me to keep doing it,” Baum said.
The main person who helped Schmiesing with his Eagle project was his dad, Paul.
“Toward the end, the last three merit badges were the hardest,” Schmiesing said. “I was getting sick of doing it, and my dad kept pushing me to do them.”
Probably the biggest influence in Schwinghamer finishing his Eagle requirements was his dad, Chris.
“He took time out of his day to go to the shop,” said Schwinghamer. “He would tell me who to go to for help, and he reminded me every day.”
All three agreed that their Eagle Board of Review was very nerve-wracking. They were asked questions by members of the Central Minnesota Council, people they had never met, about their journey to Eagle. They were expecting it to be more serious, when it turned out to be more relaxed.
“My parents were more nervous than I was, though,” said Schmiesing.
The three believe Scouting has had a strong impact on their lives.
“Our lives could have gone a completely different way,” Schwinghamer said. “This kept us in line; it pushed us in the right direction.”
“I had a lot more fun than I expected when I joined,” Schmiesing said. “I knew I could be with friends and go camping, and I like camping. I never knew I could have fun without electronics.”
They would all like to thank their families and the businesses and volunteers who donated materials and helped with the projects.
Baum and Schmiesing are members of Troop 25 of Sauk Centre, while Schwinghamer belongs to Troop 68 of Melrose.