the Eagles

When Gabriel was a tiny newborn we ventured downtown to witness all the Olympic festivities. Everywhere I went those days, people counted my little boys, “1, 2, 3, 4, 5!” and offered a variety of comments both kind and cutting (the rude ones were just jealous). But I’ll never forget the lady who counted the boys, asked, “Are you LDS?” and on my affirmation exclaimed, “Oh no! All those Eagle projects!”

I laughed, but didn’t understand her words until several years later. It should be noted: I love and adore mothering my five boys. I would have happily taken a sixth– but the paperwork! Oh! The paperwork of Eagle projects.

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The service itself usually invigorates and inspires all participants, but the forms are grueling. Choosing a project the BSA approves, getting every signature at the right time in the right order, saying the right thing and appearing at all the right meetings…. I’m of the opinion service should be done quietly, with no fanfare and no checked boxes. The angels in heaven can record my good deeds, because I really don’t want to.

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My attitude works well for life and mothering (can you imagine if a mother tried to write down every act of service during the day?), but doesn’t fly for the Boy Scouts of America.

And so, my boys (who’ve inherited my hatred for paperwork) were sadly in danger of missing this rite of passage for Mormon boys.

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Enter our hero: Scott Young. For years I’ve teased his wife Allison; I know their family secretly wears superhero suits under their clothing. Quiet, unassuming, always kind and amazingly organized– they are our neighborhood’s version of the Incredibles.

In typical Lehnardt fashion, my boys had attended the camps, put in the service hours and earned the merit badges, but neglected most of the paperwork.

Scott took it upon himself to make it happen.

For weeks, months, he called my boys nearly every day: “Go get this signature.” “Fill out this form.” “You need to be here by 11.”

Together, they chose Eagle projects and finished them in September within ten days of each other.

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Hans chose restoring a public park. The boys weeded and trimmed the greenery; stained the fence and repaired breakage.  Witness the beauty of scouting: every boy supports each other in their Eagle projects, everyone stays till the job is done.

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of course, Scott’s there too. Front and center.

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the little sister’s club

painting till nightfall

Because of his love for children (and juggling), Xander chose a Head Start Family Health Carnival.

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Once again, eveyone arrived to help on a Saturday morning when they surely had other things to do. Scouts, leaders– they all took time to put smiles on little kids’ faces and help Xander.

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Truly, these boys are remarkable. But you know what I say about teenagers today…

they’re FANTASTIC.

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Even with the project finished, the boys were far from done. But Scott led them through every step of the long approval process. I’m somewhat embarrassed by my failings, but profound gratitude overshadows my shame.

December 15th, our ward held a court of honor for six boys earning their Eagles.

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Gabriel led the flag ceremony.

Each boy stood as the scoutmaster extolled his virtues.
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a real eagle graced the event

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The mother’s pin (grossly unearned).

My contribution to the evening was a slideshow of all six boys from birth to Eaglehood. Many times, the photos made me teary– not for their artistic merit but for the greater beauty in witnessing all these leaders taking my boys camping and to the sand dunes and fishing. And the same boys helping one boy after another complete his Eagle project– learning new skills and laughing together.

I, the cynical scoutmother, became converted.

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My favorite portion was listening to the boys thank their parents, leaders and other family members. We don’t often reflect on what others have done for us and taking the time to think about and express gratitude enlarges the soul. Hans spoke eloquently about each leader and especially thanked Scott, pinning on his lapel the Mentor’s Award. (otherwise I would have given him my mother’s pin).
Just a bit from Hans and Xander’s Eagle essays:

Xander- “My life ambition is to make other people’s lives easier. I will go on a mission when I turn eighteen and serve people then. While on my mission I will teach others the gospel and do anything I can to serve them. After my mission I am planning to attend college and get a degree in electrical engineering. With my education I will design tools to help people accomplish tasks. I want to make everyone’s life easier. I want to marry and start a family. I will serve my wife and my family and provide for them. Serving others will be my main purpose in life. I will help my family and do anything they need. I believe that I can have a positive influence on the world.”

Hans– “My life purpose is to become the best person I can, so that I can help other people. I’d like to invent something great.  I don’t know what it will be, but I want to change lives for the better.  It could be technological, medical, or psychological.  It could even just be writing a book.  Because I don’t know I’m just learning all I can now, so I’ll have options. I also want to be a father.  I want to marry and take good care of my family.  Too many families have absentee, abusive, or neglectful fathers.  I will be the best husband and father ever.  My other ambitions will help to serve this one.  I will play with my kids all the time and tell my wife that I love her, everyday.”

OK, the whole process was worth it just to read those essays.

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The evening finished with lots of hugs, Eagle cookies,

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a meeting of the little sister’s club,

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group photos,

and then back to what scouts do best…

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trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent

December 31, 2013
January 5, 2014



  1. Judi

    January 3, 2014

    congratulations to both of them! and their parents for raising such good young men! xoxo

  2. Selwyn

    January 3, 2014

    How wonderful (and those essay excerpts, sublime!)

  3. The Kibler-McCabes

    January 3, 2014

    My dad was the High Adventure person for my brother’s Boy Scout troop and was called on by my brother’s friends to do his “what is an Eagle” speech.

    The troop was notorious for building benches as their Eagle projects. There were also stories of boys waiting until the night before their 18th birthday to have stuff signed or faxed.

  4. Tracy

    January 3, 2014

    Huge congrats to them! And their essays – tears. xo

  5. Kathleen

    January 3, 2014

    Thank you for sharing their essays, such wonderful words ! We are a scouting family. My son is a Wolf and my awesome husband took on a Den leader position last year. It is a lot of extra work, but worth it!

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