By Chris Fuchs
The scouts from Troop 18 – John Haseney, 17, Michael Mahon, 15, Daniel McCloskey, 16, and Eric Petersen, 15 – spent hundreds of hours coordinating various community services projects for the benefit of northeast Queens, to qualify for the 4 percent of Boy Scouts who become Eagles.
Becoming an Eagle Scout in this 90-year-old fraternity is no easy feat. A scout first must earn 21 merit badges, demonstrating his mastery of skills like first aid and physical fitness. He also must help his peers better their own abilities in something he excels at. In all, an Eagle Scout candidate must fulfill his requirements in leadership, service and outdoor skills.
The four scouts, who will receive their Eagle awards Friday, had all chosen arduous and, in some cases, physically taxing projects. All of them were centered on helping Queens residents, whether through a blood drive or a book drive. The four-step process is indeed grueling, designed to weed out the scouts not yet ready to receive the same accolades bestowed upon Steven Spielberg, President Gerald Ford and former U.S. Sen. Bill Bradley.
It first starts with the scouts' picking a project. Haseney retired old, tattered flags, Mahon collected books for children, McCloskey cleaned up the shoreline along MacNeil Park and Petersen spearheaded a blood drive. Although they attend high school and are undoubtedly faced with mounds of work, the four scouts spent hours and hours seeing their projects through to completion, investing large sums of time to make sure they got done correctly.
“It was easy to get the people to take the garbage off of the shoreline,” McCloskey, a student at St. Francis Preparatory High School, said of his clean-up project. “But it was probably more work to notify all the people and get them together.”
In all of these boys' cases, the road to Eagle Scout was seemingly endless, to ensure that they were prepared for the award. Before a scout can be promoted to any of the six ranks, his record must first be reviewed by the troop. For Eagle Scouts, however, the boys' applications must be approved by the district, local and national council as well, a process that can take considerable time.
Take Haseney, a student at St. Francis Prep, for instance. He completed his project on Nov. 13, 1999. It took him 300 hours to collect more than 150 flags, all of which were tattered and unusable. To “retire” them he had to first fold them into a certain pattern and, only after that, place them over a fire.
The other boys' travels were similarly long. Mahon, who attends Regis High School in Manhattan, collected more than 1,000 books which were donated to St. Mary's Hospital for Children as well as to the Salvation Army. And between McCloskey, who on Sept. 16, 2000 cleaned up the shoreline of MacNeil Park with the city, and Petersen, a student at Martin Luther High School in Maspeth who in May 1999 organized a blood drive together with New York Hospital Medical Center of Queens, hundreds of planning and work hours were recorded.
The ceremony is to be held at St. Fidelis Church, at 124th Street and 14th Avenue in College Point at 8 p.m.