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Six St. Croix Teens Achieve Scouting’s Highest Rank

Scouts pose with Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. at a community service event. (Photo provided by Sonja Sundaram)

Considering that only 4 percent of all Boy Scouts achieve the rank of Eagle worldwide, Troop 7227 on St. Croix achieved something unusual when six local teens were awarded the Eagle rank at the same time.

In a news release issued on Jan. 4, the St. Croix Scout District said the six teens constitute the most ever members of the troop to achieve Eagle at the same time.

Donovan Capdeville, Douglas Capdeville II, Gabriel Capdeville, Kieran Walter-Sundaram, Nbiko T. Bowry and Phar-I Merchant were all honored at a virtual “Court of Honor” on Dec. 19.

To become an Eagle, Scouts must first reach the rank of Life Scout, demonstrate how they live the spirit of the Scout Law, provide the names of community members who will recommend them and earn at least 21 merit badges in specific categories.

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Eagle candidates also must create a community project, which is the centerpiece of their application.

“I’m very proud that my son is one of the ones featured on that site as he won an award, actually, for his particular project,” said Sonja Sundaram, who is advancement chairwoman for the troop. “The project was about creating a mobile, free-standing charging station that can be taken, deployed. It can be taken to a place that has lost power generation and communication. Participating in the Scouts is truly all about service.”

Donovan Capdeville is awarded the Eagle Scout rank. (Photo provided by Janelle Boodoosingh)

“This was a first for us in many ways,” said Toby Tobias, scoutmaster of Troop 7227. “It was also the first time three of the Scouts were a part of the same family, the first time we held our ceremony virtually and we acknowledged our first girls in our troop.”

In 2019, the St. Croix District began to welcome girls. Lily Morse of Long Beach, California, made history in becoming the first female Eagle Scout in the nation.

“We are looking forward to having girls from St. Croix become Eagle Scouts in the next few years,” Sundaram said. It takes about four years for a person to attain this status. “We don’t say Boy Scouts, we now say ‘Scouting of America.’ The girls are doing a great job; they are diving in and doing all the things just like the boys.”

Dignitaries “present” at the virtual ceremony included Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. and V.I. Delegate to Congress Stacey Plaskett.

Achieving Eagle is more than a rank, said Sundaram. It’s something that stays with the recipient forever.

“An Eagle rank is one of those few things that you see in the Library of Congress. When you look under the accomplishments of individuals like astronauts, one of the first accomplishments that they will list is being an Eagle Scout,” Sundaram said. “So, it is a big deal especially if you go into any government line of work or military.”

Kieran Walter-Sundaram tries out his portable charger. (Photo provided by Sonja Sundaram)

“In Scouting, they have to go through various stages of advancement in order to get an Eagle rank,” Tobias said. The Scouts are mentored on values and good citizenship and are taught multiple skills, including first aid, resolving issues in the community, citizenship in the nation, communications, cooking, personal fitness, emergency preparedness, lifesaving environmental science, personal management, swimming, cycling, camping and family life.

“As they work their way through the different requirements, it involves a lot of adult support. There are adults who specialize in swimming and boat safety, pioneer skills, cooking, etc.”

Some of the Scouts assisted members of the community after Hurricane Maria impacted St. Croix in 2017.

“We have individuals that have graduated from the Naval Academy, Air Force, Coast Guard, major colleges and universities,” Tobias said.

Most of the Scouts have participated since the age of 10. Once they complete the Scouts at the age of 18, they can continue in an adult leadership program.

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