BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — As friends and fellow Scouts in Troop 97, Henry Haines and Phoenix Hall have shared a lot of adventures in the past eight years – from the Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota to the islands of the Florida Keys. On February 5, both were recognized with the rank of Eagle Scout during a court of honor at Hope United Methodist Church.
Eagle Scout is the highest rank for a Scout to earn and includes completing the required number of badges and a special project by age 18.
Henry’s project was to build planter boxes and a trellis – which he painted emerald green – for Hospice of Northwest Ohio, where his mom Amy works. His grandfather, Arnie Elton, is a carpenter, and helped him – as did fellow Scouts including Phoenix.
Phoenix refurbished an area of the Fort Meigs Historic Site – a spot that is used to store firewood for outdoor events. With funding from Ken Bialecki of A.E. Electric, Phoenix replaced a weathered and broken-down fence and cleared out debris and brush. For the past two years, Phoenix has been involved as a re-enactor at Fort Meigs, portraying a private soldier during special events.
Phoenix started in Scouts as a 5-year-old and convinced Henry to join during his fifth-grade year. Over the years, Troop 97 has taken the teens on a variety of trips, including last summer’s Northern Tier Adventure in the Boundary Waters along the border of Minnesota and Ontario.
With the weeklong adventure, the teens canoed to different islands and often had to wade through water to bring their canoes ashore or flip the canoe over to carry it around obstacles, such as beaver dams.
“We had dry socks and wet socks. We only slept in the dry socks. There was never enough time to dry the other ones,” Phoenix said. “We had 2-to-3-foot waves – which isn’t that big unless you’re in a canoe. And we went straight from paddling to hiking, so there was no time to change shoes.”
Staying on different islands each night always yielded plenty of breathtaking views, especially at sunrise and sunset, both agreed.
Sea Base High Adventure Camp in the Florida Keys gave the teens a week of snorkeling, deep sea fishing, stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking around the Scout-owned island.
“We would spend the day fishing for food to eat that night,” Phoenix said.
After shark fishing – in which another Scout caught a small shark – Henry said they walked through chum-filled waters to get back to land.
A Philmont, N.M., trip was also noteworthy, as they spent the week shortly after a wildfire had burned many of the trees.
“It was very post-apocalyptic looking,” Henry said, adding that the normal summer sounds were gone, and it was eerily quiet.
The teens hiked 82 miles – longer than the normal excursion because of a need to go around a mountain instead of over it due to snow that year. While nearing the corner of a switchback one day, Phoenix and his dad saw a bear. As Scout leader Clif Vaughan approached, he advised the group to “make some noise,” and that scared off the bear. Later, they learned that many Scouts have seen the bear that they nicknamed “Starvin’ Marvin.”
Henry and Phoenix have earned dozens of patches for their knowledge and experience in topics ranging from camping and outdoor cooking to mining and citizenship.
Phoenix said he most enjoyed rifle and shotgun shooting as well as the climbing wall at Camp Pioneer. While earning his electrical merit badge, Phoenix discovered he liked it so much that he enrolled in the Construction Electricity program at Penta Career Center. While he’s enrolled at Penta, Phoenix is also a senior at Anthony Wayne High School, where he is involved in football and wrestling as well as playing rec soccer. After graduation, he plans to earn his associate degree in electrical applied science from Owens Community College, then join the Joint Apprentice-ship Training Council’s program through the IBEW Local 8.
It was a Scout program with local operating engineers that inspired Henry.
“We got to run around in Bobcats and try front loaders during a spring campout,” said Henry.
A senior at Monclova Christian Academy, Henry plays trumpet in the band and works part time at StoryPoint Senior Living in Waterville as a dishwasher.
“I’m thinking about the military or the operating engineers,” said Henry.
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