BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — Zip-lining down a mountain, camping out in the wilderness and cooking over a fire are essential to the Scouts BSA Troop 97 experience, but it’s the unscripted times like playing tag in the snow after dark, cards in a cabin and impromptu conversations that Jack Haines, Nathaniel Nicely and Joe Roush said they’ll remember just as much.
The three Anthony Wayne High School seniors recently achieved the rank of Eagle Scout and are planning their Courts of Honor for later this year.
All three got into Scouts early on and were encouraged by brothers who also achieved the Eagle rank, including Henry Haines, Robbie Nicely, George Roush and James Roush.
Each summer, the teens headed to one of the High Adventure Camps, including Philmont in New Mexico, Sea Base in Florida, Northern Tier in the Boundary Waters of Minnesota and Summit in West Virginia.
Summit had the most opportunity for adventure, the three agree, with zip-lining, BMX bikes, shooting, climbing and skateboarding among the options. The Big Zip is likely the longest zip line in North America, and it involved a 45-minute hike up a mountain to reach the top of the line.
“There’s no place like Summit for zip-lining,” Joe said.
Philmont was the most beautiful, Jack said, with incredible views everywhere.
Nathaniel caught a 3-foot lemon shark while at Sea Base camp.
“We walked out and chummed the water and then waded back through shark-infested waters in the dark, so we couldn’t see anything,” Nathaniel said. “I felt something nip my ankle.”
He caught the shark with an extra strong rod baited with a smaller fish they’d caught earlier.
Thankfully, their trip to Northern Tier missed the hatch of black mosquitoes that they heard are painful, Jake noted.
The outdoor adventures provided plenty of opportunity for learning.
“We learned skills like how to set up a tent and what we need to carry in our backpacks,” Jack said.
“We cooked on grills, with coals and in a Dutch oven,” Joe added.
Nathaniel recalls cooking burgers on a fire during a miserable weekend campout where they learned about wind turbines and electricity.
“My fellow campers were badmouthing my burgers,” Nathaniel said. “I had to put a tarp on the side of the cook fire because the wind was so strong.”
Many of their best memories are from Camp Frontier in Pioneer, Ohio, where Scouts spend at least a week earning badges and enjoying outdoor adventures.
“One night, we laid on the dock in the middle of the night and just talked about stuff,” Nathaniel recalled.
Joe and Jack agreed that the times at Pioneer or while in cabins at Camp Miakonda gave the Scouts more opportunities for spontaneous adventure, such as playing poker and blackjack while shooting the breeze, or going out after dark and playing tag in the snow.
The patches on their uniforms show that the three Eagle Scouts learned quite a bit during their experiences. Holding up their sashes, each shared which one is the “most exotic.”
“Horseback riding,” Nathaniel said.
“It’s either painting or the bugler,” said Joe.
For Jack, it was mammal studies.
“My first year at Camp Frontier, I learned about mammals … researching and writing a paper,” he said. He also helped clean out invasive species in the Pioneer, Ohio campground as part of a service project.
All three held leadership positions in Troop 97. Joe served as the bugler, playing at camp and other ceremonies. Nathaniel was the chaplain’s aide, praying before meals or when the group was all together. Jack was the quartermaster, keeping track of the trailer that stores all of the supplies for outings.
For their Eagle Scout projects, each found a way to benefit the community. Nathaniel made firewood boxes for the Metroparks. One is located at the base of the Whitehouse sledding hill in Blue Creek Metropark, near a fire pit. Jack rebuilt a decaying bridge along the 17-mile trail north of Monclova Road in Oak Openings. Joe constructed a 30-foot-diameter, three-ring prayer path with brick at Widewater Retreat Center with help from fellow Scouts, Anthony Wayne band members and adults.
“It seems like the Boy Scouts are preparing us to have jobs in construction,” Nathaniel said. “It shows you the management part with the planning, too.”
Joe agreed, noting that it was hard to manage such a large crew when he wanted to be working hard to get the job done.
“On the other hand, I needed to make sure it was done right,” he said.
So, what’s next for these high school seniors?
Jack, who has been studying HVAC at Penta Career Center, is enlisting in the U.S. Navy, where he hopes to continue a focus on HVAC.
Nathaniel plans to work for a year and figure out his next step. While at Anthony Wayne, he’s enjoyed taking the principles of woodworking class and participating in the Tabletop Games Club. A trumpet player in the band, he was a member of the Marching Generals.
Joe also plays trumpet in the band and is involved with Quiz Bowl and the Chess and Games Club. He previously was on student council and a member of the German Club. Joe received nominations to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and the United States Air Force Academy, as well as a three-year Army scholarship to attend the Citadel, a private military academy, among other offers. He’d like to focus on cybersecurity as an area of study with a second major in automotive engineering or maintenance.