KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- This past weekend – Boy Scouts honored the more than 900 members who became Eagle Scouts this past year in the Kansas City region. Attaining the rank of Eagle is the highest member honor in Scouting. One of this year’s honorees is this week’s FOX 4 Reaching 4 Excellence young achiever of the week. He is the first ever Eagle in a Scout district specifically created to encourage and foster Scouting in Kansas City’s urban core neighborhoods where it had been waning for many years.
At the regular weekly meetings and frequent campouts for Boy Scout Troop 342 in Kansas City, Kansas it’s not unusual for Richie Adkins to take charge. His Scoutmaster and other adult mentors in the troop call Richie a natural leader – patient, skilled, encouraging --- someone they rely on to guide and train the other boys.
“I provide them knowledge I learned and grew up with,” said Richie, the FOX 4 Young Achiever of the week. “Tell them to do right. Not do wrong.”
“Oh yeah, he’s a role model,” said Scoutmaster Chris Gonzalez. “These kids look up to him. They’re always running up to him. It used to be, ‘Mr. Chris! Mr. Chris! Mr. Chris!’ And now it’s, ‘Richie! Richie! Richie! Richie!’ That’s what I wanted.”
That’s especially so since Richie recently earned the rank of Eagle, the highest achievement in Scouting. And he did it over odds that sometimes seemed stacked high against him.
“I had to push myself to not give up and just think forward and tell myself this will help in future life,” said Richie. His dad died when Richie was a small child. His mom and older sister got him into Scouting when he was seven. Richie says it has given him positive direction and purpose and kept him motivated to push ahead through the tough times.
“It made me believe in myself and as a young man become a really good guy in life,” said Richie.
“Richie deserves it because he has a lot of heart,” said Gonzalez. “And he’ll push past anything. There’s nothing that will stop him.”
Only about six percent of all Boy Scouts earn the Eagle rank each year. And in climbing to that lofty height Richie’s achievement is even more notable. He is the first Eagle ever in the Frontier District which the Heart of America Boy Scout Council created three years ago out of units in urban core neighborhoods of Wyandotte and Jackson Counties. They did it to reverse the decades-long decline in Scout participation and advancement in those areas.
“It’s a really big deal,” says Frontier District Director Dusty Boatright of Richie earning his Eagle. Boatright says Richie now becomes the standard-bearer – the Eagle to follow for all Scouts and future Scouts in Kansas City’s urban core and especially in Troop 342.
“Richie is an awesome, awesome young man,” says Boatright. “He’s accomplished a lot. I’m proud of him and with this troop here at 342. He’s got big stuff on his shoulders now. And he’s going to have to mentor these kids. He’s already said he was going to stick around and make sure these kids get the Eagle Scout ranking that he’s been mentoring all along.”
“I know one of (Richie’s) role modeling things is to get recruitment up,” says Gonzalez. “I know he wants to get more kids in here. He would love to have more kids to work with.”
“It’s really important,” says Richie of his plans to remain active in Scout leadership after high school graduation. “I can teach them like people taught me. To grow up and be a young man.”
An Eagle to soar with.
Richie is a senior at Turner High School in Kansas City, Kansas where he’s been advancing in the school’s automotive technology program. He is planning a career in that field and he intends to go forward in the specialty by studying at Kansas City, Kansas Community College in the fall.
Meantime, The Heart of America Boys Scout Council is having success with the Frontier District in attracting Scouts and keeping them in the program. According the Council, 60% of Scouts in the District programs are advancing now and 30 percent are going to some kind of Scout summer camp. Both of those used to be at zero.
FOX 4 News is Working 4 You to spotlight outstanding young people and their positive accomplishments. In our weekly report called Reaching 4 Excellence we meet young achievers in subjects like academics, the arts, leadership, community service, volunteerism, career exploration, overcoming obstacles and heroism. Watch for Reaching 4 Excellence every Wednesday on FOX 4 News at 9 p.m. and every Thursday on FOX 4 News at 8 a.m. and noon.