KINGMAN - Matt Schapiro understands the value of being an Eagle Scout.
So when Schapiro met Joseph Songster and learned of his desire to join the elite group of Eagle Scouts, he did everything he could to help his young protégé achieve his goal. Schapiro is a long-time Eagle Scout and leader of Boy Scout Troop 57 in Golden Valley, where Songster is a member and serves as assistant scout master.
After five years of effort, Songster was named an Eagle Scout on Oct. 8 during a leadership board of review meeting. Songster, who received the honor four days before his 18th birthday, is the first Eagle Scout from Troop 57 and one of only a few in Mohave County. Boy Scouts must achieve the rank of Eagle Scout before they turn 18 years old.
"It's an honor to become an Eagle Scout, and there aren't many in this area," said Schapiro. "I'm an Eagle Scout and I know the importance of earning that rank. It's a huge accomplishment and is like a Bar Mitzvah for a scout. Being an Eagle Scout will stay with him for life. From this point on, he is an Eagle Scout and always will be. I'm very proud of him."
For his project, Songster built a cinderblock fire pit and removable barbecue grill in September for Golden Valley Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2555. The project involved 88 service hours and included a group of 10 Boy Scouts and adults who assisted. Songster and the group worked from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the site, installing block and leveling the pit.
"It was a lot of work, but I'm glad I did it," said Songster, a senior at Kingman High School whose Eagle Scout induction ceremony will take place in December. "Their fire pit didn't look very good and I wanted to make something nice for them. I'm very proud of what I did, but I don't feel any different now that I'm an Eagle Scout."
To become an Eagle Scout, potential candidates must achieve a Life rank. They also must live by the principles of the organization, earn 21 merit badges, actively serve in a leadership position for six months, and plan and develop a service project for a community group. Songster has met all those requirements, said Schapiro.
Schapiro said becoming an Eagle Scout opens the door to many options, including better jobs, school scholarships and higher rank in the military. Songster plans to apply for a scholarship to the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, Neb., where he plans to study music recording technology.
"Being an Eagle Scout teaches young men to be great leaders, and it's considered a positive thing in the workforce," said Schapiro. "It's a great stepping stone. Companies and schools know that Eagle Scouts have worked hard and know how to mentor and manage other boys. A lot of jobs will hire an Eagle Scout just because he reached that rank. This accomplishment gives Joseph a bright future."
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