ROCK HILL, S.C. (AP) – It was a proud moment for Chase Slaughter when he was named an Eagle Scout, the highest rank in Scouting. And though an extended family turned out to watch the York Comprehensive High School student go through his “court of honor” recently before he was pinned with an Eagle badge, for many of them it must have seemed quite familiar.
That’s because eight of Chase’s relatives - cousins, uncles and great-uncles - have already earned the distinction of being an Eagle Scout in Sharon’s Troop 137, a group the family has been involved with for 70 years.
“It’s always a pleasure,” said Midge Chambers, Chase’s grandmother, who has also watched her three brothers, two sons and another grandson go through the same ceremony as 15-year-old Chase did last month.
“I’m exploding with pride,” the beaming grandmother said.
Chase’s great-grandfather, Cliff Jones, was the founding scoutmaster of the troop back in 1944, a position he held for decades as his sons and later his grandsons came through the Scouting ranks.
“Some of my earliest memories are of Scouting, because all these activities would go on at my house,” said Tim Jones, Chase’s great-uncle and the youngest of the three Jones boys to become an Eagle Scout in 1971. “One of my brothers was 15 years older, so on all the Scouting activities, I just got carried along. … I always tell people I was born a Scout.”
Tim and his older brothers Harold and Kenny all completed their Eagle Scout projects under their father, who would later have four grandsons complete their Eagle Scout projects.
“It takes a lot of dedication, a lot of labor, and a lot of your mama fussing at you,” said Keith Chambers, Chase’s uncle and a 1983 Eagle Scout.
Chambers was the second grandson of Cliff Jones to earn his Eagle Scout badge, after his cousin Brent Jones, but before his brother Brian and another cousin, Kevin Hope.
Keith Chambers earned his Eagle badge the same way his nephew did, by restoring the same historic York cemetery near York’s McElvey Center.
“After 30 years, it was probably dirty again,” he said.
Chase spent nine straight hours in the cemetery working on the project that earned him his Eagle.
“I was cleaning headstones, replanting flower beds,” he said, although he got a lot of volunteers to help him out. “We probably had 30-something guys out there.”
At 15, Chase is young for an Eagle Scout. Scouts have until their 18th birthday to complete their project and earn their rank. But Troop Scoutmaster David White - himself a former Scout under “Mr. Cliff” - said he got a lot of help from his fellow Scouts.
“He was part of a group that all joined together” at the age of 11, White said. “They went through the same things together, and maybe learned from each other’s mistakes.”
The family’s youngest Eagle Scout takes a lot of pride in following in his relatives’ footsteps.
“It’s an honor, it’s overwhelming,” he said.
An older cousin, Chris Chambers, became his generation’s first Eagle Scout back in 2004. But Chase has used his family connections to take a unique place in Troop 137, alongside his duties as senior patrol leader.
“He’s also the troop historian,” White said, “because he has all these resources at his disposal.”
He may not be the last member of his family to hold that post. Chase’s little brother Justice is still in Cub Scouts.
“We hope to do this for him in a few years,” Midge Chambers said.
Information from: The Herald, http://www.heraldonline.com