The pews of Destin United Methodist Church filled with family members, neighbors, friends and fellow scouts Saturday as Nick Bowyer, Benjamin Heyse and Harrison Jourdan prepared to become Eagle Scouts.
The pinning ceremony was a longtime coming for the three members of Troop 504. They worked for the better part of seven years to earn the required 21 merit badges — as well as plan and complete an Eagle Scout project to earn the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouts of America program.
"This is a big day," said Jeff Jourdan, father of Harrison Jourdan and an Eagle Scout himself. "Harrison is a Type 1 diabetic so I’ve been on every campout with him. I’ve watched his progress firsthand. It’s incredibly rewarding for him to have achieved this."
According to the Boy Scouts of America website, a scout must learn and perfect skills in leadership, service and outdoor survival tactics while advancing through seven ranks: Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life, and finally, Eagle.
"I feel relived to have it over with and I’m extremely honored to be a part of such a prestigious group," Nick Bowyer said. He will be attending Troy University in the fall and plans to attend law school in the future.
During the ceremony, Boy Scout leader Thomas Denney reiterated the importance of dedication during the boys’ quest to achieve the Eagle Scout rank, which only 4 percent of scouts ever reach.
The Eagle Scout project tests the organization and planning skills of the scout.
"You have to organize a group of people, and raise money for the project, so I believe that will help me with multiple things in life," said Bowyer, who installed 15 bluebird houses at the Destin Water Users George F. French Reclamation Facility.
Benjamin Heyse, who will graduate from Collegiate High School this spring, believes his experience as a Boy Scout will help him reach his goals.
"When I graduate from high school, I hope to go to college in Orlando next year. I’m trying to go into video game design." Heyse said. "Halfway through I thought about giving up on becoming an Eagle Scout, but my parents encouraged me to stick with it and I’m glad I did."
For his project, Harrison Jourdan built two wooden swings for the community to enjoy at Legion Park in Miramar Beach. Jourdan has also been to two out of the three high adventure camps that boy scouts offer, and will attend the third and final high adventure camp in the Florida Keys this summer.
"It feels really good to carry on the legacy of being an Eagle Scout," Jourdan said. "Right now, I’m in school at UWF and I’m majoring in exercise science and will hopefully become a physical therapist in the future."
After the ceremony, all three of the new Eagle Scouts enjoyed a reception after the ceremony, where they talked with friends and family and celebrated their hard-earned achievement.