The way John Stephenson, recollects it, he was one of the first three Boy Scouts to make Eagle Scout in Santa Fe back in the early 1930s.
“It was me and two other kids named Johnson and Casados,” he said. “We all got it in the same ceremony. That was one of the goals any fella in high school had.” They all belonged to Troop 29, hosted by a local Presbyterian church, Stephenson said.
On Saturday, Stephenson, 98, watched as 17-year-old Devin Flood — Troop 53, Santa Fe — worked toward earning his Eagle rank by organizing and leading a work crew to expand and renovate a tool shed on the Santa Fe Community Farm property off San Ysidro Crossing. Stephenson founded the farm about 60 years ago.
“This is something I’ve wanted for a long time,” Flood said while taking a break from the job Saturday. “I made a promise to my grandfather, Larry T. Flood. I dropped out of every program he put me in as a kid except for Boy Scouts. He was my dad, my mentor — everything to me.” His grandfather passed away some years ago.
Devin Flood joined Troop 53 about seven years ago. “It was a blast,” he said. “It made me see the world differently, made me who I am. I’ve become a better man because of the experience.”
To make Eagle Scout, Flood had to work his way through several ranks from Tenderfoot up to Star Rank and then to Life Scout. An Eagle Scout must earn a total of 21 badges. “It took me about four year to earn them all,” he said. “I slacked off quite a bit.”
Now he is too close to quit — hence the Community Farm project. His grandmother, Tilly, volunteered this year on the 12-acre farm, which has provided fresh fruit and vegetables to the community for about 60 years. She told Devin that the farm’s shed needed expansion and repair, to say the least, so Devin organized a work team, including about 10 of his fellow Scouts, to do the job. Adult mentors helped lay out the plans, he said.
In addition, over the past year Devin helped three of his fellow Boy Scouts work on earning Eagle status by rebuilding a playground at a church on the south side of town and creating a new horse trail out in Eldorado, among other projects.
One of Devin’s helpmates on Saturday, 17-year-old James Rose, said he initiated the horse trail project. He has until February to earn a few more merit badges to make Eagle. After graduating from the Academy for Technology and the Classics next spring, he plans to join the U.S. Army. He, like Devin, said once you make Eagle Scout, you stay one forever — “As long as I’m around.”
That’s just how Stephenson feels. He said he is still an Eagle Scout at 98. He remembers one of his troop’s projects — collecting wild animals up off Hyde Park Road; his uncle, Benny Hyde, had asked the Scouts to start a zoo with those animals. Stephenson recalled catching some squirrels and porcupines before the project stalled.
The Boy Scouts was formed in 1910 and boasts a membership of about 2.7 million today. According to its website, more than 2 million of its youth members have earned the rank of Eagle Scout since 1912, with some 51,470 earning Eagles in 2011.
Devin Flood intends to be one who earns his Eagle rank by March 2013, when he turns 18. “Whenever people find out I’m a Boy Scout, they seem to fill with joy — and ask for help,” he said.
After high school graduation, he intends to attend New Mexico Junior College in Hobbs to study automotive mechanics. He currently works part time as a mechanic at Chalmers Capitol Ford in Santa Fe.
He said he intends to maintain his ties to the Boy Scouts. “You can come back as a scoutmaster, bring your kids back some day and then help lead the troop your kids are in.”
In the meantime, he was planning to finish the Community Farm shed before the sun set Saturday. If not, he and his crew would be back there Sunday.
Contact Robert Nott at 986-3021 or email@example.com.