Eagles soar: Three DeKalb teens journey to Scouting's top rank

Three Scouts in DeKalb's Troop 33 have earned the Eagle Scout Award in the past year - Brad Schaaf, Charles Kidd and Derick Peterson. Each year only about 4 percent of all Scouts earn the Eagle Scout rank. In addition to earning a minimum of 21 merit badges, they must serve their troop in a leadership position and conduct an extensive Eagle Service Project that helps the community while demonstrating their ability to plan, develop and provide leadership to others. Schaaf, a 2006 graduate of DeKalb High School, is a student at Kishwaukee College. He became active in Scouting at an early age in Florida and continued in the program after moving to DeKalb. He earned 23 merit badges and served in leadership positions including Patrol Leader, Senior Patrol Leader and Junior Assistant Scoutmaster. His Eagle Project included the creation of a new library for DeKalb County Rehab and Nursing Center. He collected hundreds of books, designed and built new shelving units and organized musicians to stage a grand opening concert to celebrate the new library for residents. Kidd, a 2006 graduate of DeKalb High School, currently lives in Michigan. He joined Boy Scout Troop 33 at age 11 and quickly became enthusiastically involved in the various outdoor activities continuing in Scouting until reaching the Eagle Scout rank. He earned 26 merit badges while serving his troop as a Patrol Leader and Instructor. His Eagle Project involved collecting and organizing several thousand toys to send to Mississippi for hurricane victims during Christmas 2005. Due to his project, needy children devastated by one of the nation's worst natural disasters were able to enjoy a much happier Christmas. Peterson, a 2007 graduate of DeKalb High School, became involved as a Cub Scout in Pack 131, bridging into Boy Scouts and Troop 33 at age 11. Peterson earned 26 merit badges and served Troop 33 as a Patrol Leader and Chaplain Aide. Peterson's Eagle Project involved donating and installing smoke detectors for area seniors. Due to his project, many older area residents now live in a much safer environment. All three boys were very heavily involved in outdoor adventures, sharing many of the same Scout trips. Their combined activities took them through 29 states, traveling nearly 30,000 miles across the United States and Mexico. They all began their adventures with summer camp at Camp Lowden near Oregon, Ill. As they became older and more experienced, they became active in various high adventure programs with Troop 33. They worked very hard on a variety of troop fundraisers to pay for their many Scouting adventures. Kidd enjoyed caving at Twin Cave and Wyandotte Cave in Indiana, plus a special wild cave experience at Mammoth Cave National Park. Kidd and Schaaf both enjoyed a tour of the eastern United States featuring visits to historic sites in Philadelphia, the Atlantic City boardwalk, the beach at Shipbottom, N.J., various sites in New York City, plus whale watching in Massachusetts, mountain climbing in New Hampshire and Niagara Falls in upstate New York. Schaaf and Peterson toured the Southeast United States and Mexico where they hiked, camped and went horseback riding and pontoon boating. Kidd experienced a wild western tour of the United States. In Nebraska, he stayed overnight at Offutt Air Force Base, toured the Strategic Air & Space Museum, visited a Lewis & Clark event at Atkinson State Park and camped at Camp Eagle. In Colorado, he backpacked at Rocky Mountain National Park, camped at Rifle State Park, Mesa Verde National Park, toured Bents Fort National Historic Site, did an overnight lock-in at the Koshare Indian Kiva Museum and a whitewater raft trip on the Animas River. Peterson and Schaaf toured Hawaii ,where they visited Pearl Harbor, Nu Uanu State Park, beautiful beaches at Barber's Point, Kailea, Waikiki and Shark's Cove, snorkeling at the famous Hanuama Bay Marine Sanctuary, climbing to the top of Diamond Head and hiking through rain forest to Manoa Falls. They made new Scout friends at a luau with Troop 664, surfed with Troop 189 and camped at Camp Pupukea on Oahu. On Maui, they bicycled down a 10,000-foot volcano at Haleakala National Park, enjoyed exploring jungle trails and hidden waterfalls along the Hana Highway and camped at Camp Mahulia. On another trip, Schaaf enjoyed touring museums in St. Louis, caving at Onondaga Cave and canoe trips on the Huzzah, Meremec, Gatineau and Missouri rivers. A special feature was retracing the route of Lewis & Clark for a day from the duo's celebrated journal. Winter activities included Klondike Derbies and some special events like snowmobiling near Tomahawk, Wis., hiking to ice caves on a frozen Lake Superior and driving a dog sled through the north woods. Peterson and Schaaf spent their 2005 Christmas vacation working on Troop 33's Christmasissippi Project to aid victims of Hurricane Katrina. They helped collect and load more than 6,000 pounds of supplies trucked to Mississippi, helped cook a banquet for homeless military families and abandoned foster children at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, helped cook more than 5,000 meals at God's Katrina Kitchen in Pass Christian, Miss., and in New Orleans helped establish a new animal rescue center. Peterson returned to Mississippi in April 2006 to spend his Easter vacation doing more hurricane relief work. He helped Troop 33 collect and load another 6,000 pounds of critically needed supplies; helped cook 2,000 meals at God's Katrina Kitchen in Mississippi, helped operate a distribution center providing food and clothing to 400 families and worked at an animal rescue center in New Orleans. Schaaf toured the northeast United States with Troop 33 last summer, which featured New York City, a visit to West Point in New York, New London Naval Submarine Base in Connecticut and the Naval War College at Newport Naval Station in Rhode Island. The Scouts learned the meaning of compassion and service while helping others through countless hours of community service projects. Through their many adventures, they learned about teamwork and cooperation, trust, goal setting, dedication and sharing in responsibility and leadership. The Eagle Scout Award is not a destination, but rather a journey. For Schaaf, Kidd and Peterson, their amazing journey has taken them on a challenging trail of self discovery helping them grow from 11-year-old boys to capable young men now out of high school and entering the world. Troop 33 is open to boys ages 11 to 17 and is sponsored by the First Lutheran Church in DeKalb.

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