LYONS — When so many of their friends left Scouting over the years for reasons ranging from jobs, sports and girls to peer pressure, Lyons High School seniors Mason Moore, Andy Gaylord and Matt Albanese stuck it out.
And they’re glad they did.
Their perseverance was rewarded earlier this year, when each was granted the coveted Eagle Scout award, the highest honor a Scout can attain.
They were given the awards at a Court of Honor in late April at the Phelps Buckhorn Sportsman’s Club with friends and family in attendance.
Moore has been a Boy Scout since first grade, while friends Gaylord and Albanese have been in Scouting since second grade. They started as Cub Scouts and moved up the ranks, earning numerous badges along the way while remaining close friends.
Becoming an Eagle Scout is no easy task. To even begin working on an Eagle Scout public service project, a Scout has to earn at least 21 merit badges over the course of their Scouting careers. And only 4 percent of all Scouts earn the rank of Eagle.
The three attained the rank while remaining active in a number of school activities, including sports, while also holding down jobs.
Moore’s project involved building bat boxes — “birdhouses for bats,” as he called them — at the Huckleberry Swamp in Rose. The wetlands site features a nature trail and boardwalk.
Gaylord’s project involved creating handicapped-accessible picnic tables for the Trail of Hope near the Lyons Community Center on Manhattan Street.
Albanese did renovations at the town’s canalside park behind McDonalds, including its benches, the pavilion and the park sign.
The three admitted that staying in Scouting through the later high school years is not easy. There is that perception, they said, that Scouting is not cool.
That is not a theory they subscribe to.
“It is true that peer pressure can definitely affect a person in Scouting, and we have dealt with many of our fellow troop members dropping out of the program,” said Albanese, who noted that one of his best friends left Scouting. “I had even thought about leaving myself, but I am very glad I didn’t. The fact that I still had Mason and Andy with me kept me going and pushed me to reach the rank of Eagle Scout.”
Gaylord said having Albanese and Moore as friends helped him stay with Scouting as well. So did a family background in the organization.
“My two best friends stuck it out, and so did I,” he said. “I also have three older cousins that have their Eagle. They gave me a lot of encouragement.”
Moore said the “support of family and the good friends that also remained in Scouting until the end” made all the difference to him.
While the Eagle Scout does do some of the labor involved in a service project, one of his primary duties is to be the project’s “clerk of the works,” with responsibilities for planning, any fundraising and coordinating volunteer help.
“I must have spent up to 20 total hours working on my project planning and proposal,” said Albanese, giving credit to his dad, James Albanese, for his guidance.
Gaylord estimated that he put in at least 30 hours of research, and added that there is the documentation and getting project approvals, while also writing essays of the importance of Scouting.
The three assisted in one another’s Eagle projects.
Moore plans on attending State University College of Technology at Cobleskill in the fall to major in agriculture business/viticulture, while Gaylord and Albanese plan to attending Finger Lakes Community College; Gaylord for environmental conservation, and Albanese for mechanical engineering.
The Lyons seniors said earning the Eagle rank, along with their many years together in Scouting, are experiences that have bonded them.
“It’s meant a lot,” said Moore, “to have others in the same boat, in the same place, at the same time, doing the same thing — being part of something bigger than myself with my best friends in the world.”
“We will be life-long friends,” added Gaylord.
Albanese agreed, saying “it means the world to me that I still have Andy and Mason in Scouting with me. We have been continuously pushing each other since day one to reach this point.”