Five friends become Eagle Scouts together

After COVID delays, Troop 52 members able to participate in ceremony, celebrate rank

Five young men who have been friends since kindergarten were able to celebrate a significant accomplishment last month.

The five members of Boy Scout Troop 52 - Sal Aguilar, Patrick Kelly, Marty McCann, Bryan Phlamm and Conor Richards - all earned their Eagle Scout rank at a Dec. 21 ceremony. They are among only 4 percent of Boy Scouts nationwide who achieve this rank.

The Hinsdalean spoke to each of the Scouts about their projects and their advice to younger Troop members who hope to follow in their footsteps.

Sal Aguilar

Project: Install a concrete pad and path connecting an exit to a picnic area behind Hinsdale United Methodist Church

Completion date: June 2018

Aguilar, now a freshman at West Point, said he wanted to choose a project that would benefit Hinsdale United Methodist church, where Troop 52 meets.

"I wanted to do something for our sponsor, since they have done so much for us," Aguilar said.

His uncle helped him with the project, as he had never laid concrete before. Making sure the path - which was on a slant - was level was a challenge. But nothing Aguilar and his team couldn't handle.

"I felt proud because everything went the way we wanted it to. We didn't have any complications or difficulties getting it to work," he said. "Everyone enjoyed spending time doing something good."

His advice to other Scouts who are considering pursuing the Eagle rank is to start early, consider many options and find an unusual project.

"I did something new and I think that makes it more rewarding, have something that you did that is unique from everyone else," he said.

Patrick Kelly

Project: Built two hand-crafted wooden honeybee puzzles to be used as teaching tools at the Fullersburg Woods Nature Center

Completion date: August 2019

Kelly's visits to Fullersburg Woods as a kid and his love of LEGOs led him to choose his Eagle project.

"I figured this is a bigger LEGO kind of project," he said.

He started with a balsa wood model of a honeybee, using an "old school" projector to trace the outlines on large sheets of construction paper taped on his wall. He cut those pieces out to use as patterns for the plywood, ultimately creating honeybees that were 12 times larger than the model.

"It took a lot of thinking. It took a lot of help from friends and also people more knowledgeable with tools than I am," said Kelly, now a freshman at Marquette University. "I learned a ton doing this project. It was a lot of fun."

He suggested potential Eagle Scouts finish eighth grade prepared.

"I think it's best if you get the vast majority of merit badges and rank advancements done before high school," he said.

Marty McCann

Project: built three fish cribs for the DuPage County Forest Preserve District

Completion date: summer 2020

McCann learned from his friend Patrick Kelly about the DuPage County Forest Preserve District's list of potential projects and found one that spoke to him.

He said he's happy to know his project will help local lake and pond ecosystems.

"I really like fishing and I have seen problems with overfishing," the Creighton University freshman said. "It's just really hard to catch a fish, especially around here. Knowing that (the cribs) will help cultivate the populations of fish in our local preserves is great. That makes me happy."

He enjoyed seeing his former St. Isaac Jogues classmates last month.

"Everyone who was at the ceremony, I've known them my whole life. It was just good to reconnect," he said.

He recommends talking to Eagle Scouts about their project before choosing one. He also credited his Eagle coach, Sally Sylvester, for her help, and said everyone he met through Scouting was great.

"I really enjoyed myself in Boy Scouts - a lot of good memories," he said. "Definitely if I have kids, I'm going to put them in Boy Scouts."

Bryan Phlamm

Project: Created and mounted wooden identification signs for the Hansen Center barn

Completion date:

Phlamm, who had volunteered at the Hanson Center, was happy to create signs to help the children and adults with disabilities who use the barn more easily find their way around. Doing so was no easy task.

"The most challenging part of my project was programming the CNC machine to cut out the numbers and words due to not having any prior experience programming machinery," said Phlamm, a freshman at the College of DuPage.

But it was worth the effort.

"The most rewarding part of the project was installing the project and seeing how much the staff was appreciating the signs," he said.

Like other Eagle Scouts, he recommends choosing a project that resonates on a personal level.

"Pick a local organization that you care about and find an project that can truly benefit them," he said.

Conor Richards

Project: collected more than 3,000 books for Bernie's Book Bank and built a mobile shelving unit for the nonprofit's warehouse

Completion date: July 2020

Richards knew he wanted to do something involving books and education for his project and discovered Bernie's Book Bank through a family friend.

"I really loved how they were targeting underprivileged kids. I really loved how they were focusing on people who normally don't have access to books," said Richards, a freshman at Boston College.

He set a goal of collecting 1,500 books and ended up with 3,000, about two-thirds of which met Bernie's requirements for donation.

COVID-19 forced him to delay the drive and change its format. It also affected construction on the shelving unit.

"That was done in the summer outdoors and we were all wearing masks," he said. "We also had to focus on a much smaller group of kids."

He enjoyed seeing the faces on the individuals who came with a truck to pick up the books and shelving unit.

"The guys who were picking it up were shocked at how many books there were," he said. "Seeing their shock and awe at our hard work was amazing."

He also believes it's important for Scouts to choose an Eagle project they are passionate about, as he did.

"I loved it because I felt purpose every step of the way," he said.

Author Bio

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean