Two Harlem teens reached a pinnacle of scouting Saturday.
In a ceremony held at the Harlem Woman's Club, brothers Robert Neal Baldowski Jr., 15, and Steven Phillip Baldowski, 13, of Boy Scout Troop 157 were honored as Eagle Scouts.
Participating in the ceremony were Harlem Mayor Scott Dean, Harlem City Manager Jean Dove and many other city and Boy Scout officials.
Dean said that it was appropriate that he and city officials attend because the brothers' community service projects required to reach Eagle Scout were ones that benefited the city.
Neal's community service project was to build six wooden benches that were placed around Harlem, including the Woman's Club's garden and the Laurel and Hardy Museum.
Phillip's project was to build four wooden trash bins that also were placed in various parts of the town.
Scouts Phillip Baldowski (left) and Neal Baldowski (center) take the Eagle Scout Pledge, read by Eagle Scout Steven Kitchings.
Photo by Donnie Fetter
"We had to come up with a plan and then take it before the city council," Neal said. "Then we had to buy materials, or have them donated to us, and recruit people to help us. It was a community service project, but it was also a leadership project."
Fewer than one in 50 Boy Scouts make it to Eagle Scout. What makes the Baldowski brothers' achievement more impressive is that they are younger than the average age of 16 or 17 when most of their peers reach Eagle Scout.
Neal and Phillip have been Boy Scouts for nearly a decade and have earned 68 and 67 merit badges, respectively.
"There are merit badges for doing all kinds of different things and each one represents a type of career you might one day be interested in," Phillip said.
Some of the badges the teens have earned include first aid; community, national and global citizenship; hiking; and personal money management.
Both brothers are home-schooled, which turned out to be an advantage to reaching their Eagle Scout rank. Their mother, Jenny, says that she often incorporates Boy Scout challenges and lessons into her sons' education.
"They've both learned discipline and leadership through scouting," said Mrs. Baldowski. "But I've been able to do things like incorporate lessons on environmental science while they're earning a badge for it. There have also been lessons on law, atomic energy and other things from scouting that we've been able to use as part of school. It's also been a great way for them to develop their socialization skills."
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