by Ian Roantree
Since its inception in the early twentieth century, the Boy Scouts of America have seen more than two million boy scouts earn the Eagle Scout rank, the highest advancement rank in boy scouting.
Tupper Lake’s own, Christopher Gilman, son of Dori and Tom Gilman, has joined the more than two million Eagle Scouts, just in time before he makes his next big step of leaving home, and heading off to college.
The young Gilman joined Boy Scouts in the spring of 2012. By the fall of that year, he had earned his Scout and Tenderfoot ranks, which marked the beginning of his journey to eagle scout. Throughout his Scout career, he would continue to move through the ranks and earn merit badges. As a cub, Chris became a Webelos Scout and earned the Arrow of Light award, the highest rank and award of Cub Scouting.
By June 24 of this year, Chris finally earned his Eagle Scout rank and an Eagle Scout ceremony was held for Chris on August 3 at St. Thomas Episcopal Church.
Chris is the fourth local scout to become an Eagle Scout in the past year.
To become an Eagle Scout, a scout must earn a number of merit badges, demonstrate Scout spirit, service and leadership. The merit badges required include camping, citizenship and community, citizenship in the nation, citizenship in the world, communication, cooking, emergency preparedness, environmental science, family life, first aid, swimming, personal management and personal fitness.
Chris also explored other activities and earned merit badges that aren’t required for the Eagle Scout rank which include archery, aviation, canoeing, kayaking, leatherwork, motor boating, rifle, space exploration and wood carving.
“The thing with the Merit Badge is that it gives the scout a chance to sample different things,” said Eagle Scout, Troop 23 Scout Master and Chris’ father, Tom Gilman. “Maybe a scout would say, ‘I want to do that for a career or just a hobby.’ It gives them a broad exposure.”
Earning merit badges prepares a scout for and arms them with survival skills as well with skills and knowledge for everyday life. For example, for the personal management merit badge, a merit badge counselor takes a scout to the bank to learn about investments, and loans and interest.
There’s the citizenship badges where a scout must attend town meetings and talk about things that are effecting the community or the nation. It may seem like homework for some scouts, but down the line, it’s much more than that.
Aside from the merit badges required to earn the Eagle Scout rank, a scout must complete an Eagle Service Project, a project where the scout must, in some way, give back to the community.
Chris’ project was the preservation and beatification of the Junction Pass Trail. In a project that took over 90 hours, Chris set out to treat all of the wooden structures throughout the trail. Chris treated all of the bridges, benches, railings, fences and posts, preserving and maintaining them.
To add the cherry on top of his Eagle Scout project, Chris had nine wooden flower boxes built and had flowers donated to be planted in the boxes and placed at every entrance to the trail.
This project required advanced planning, acquiring materials, which were donated by local businesses and manpower for completion.
“His mom and I are so proud of Chris,” said Tom Gilman, who became an Eagle Scout 33 years before his son. “He accomplished something that he set out to do.”
Throughout Chris’ middle and high school career, he participated in a many extracurriculars, including modified cross country, the Saranac Lake Nordic Ski Team, modified baseball, varsity baseball, where he earned the All Academic Award and the Super Utility Player Award. He played varsity football in grades 11 and 12 and was awarded the Lawrence Fuller Memorial Award, the Phil Datola Memorial Award, the All Academic Award, and was considered a Scholar Athlete. Chris also played Varsity Basketball and was in the school ski club.
Having graduated from Tupper Lake High School this spring, Chris’ next steps are to SUNY Canton where he will work towards a bachelor of science in cyber security.