By Emily Fedor
According to Scout Law, a scout must possess twelve traits.
“A scout is trustworthy,” Jack began.
“Loyal and helpful,” Matt piped in. Then both boys were quiet.
“You gonna say the rest?” Jack joked.
With a smirk, Matt finished it off: “Obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent, man!”
Matt and Jack Culkin joined the Boy Scouts of America when they were just seven years old as Cub Scouts — both as members of Dunmore Troop 66.
Over the years, they moved up the ranks from Cub Scouts, to Webelos, to Boy Scouts. Now, the twin brothers are months away from turning 17 and have achieved the highest rank a Boy Scout can achieve — Eagle Scout.
When asked where their interest in scouting first began, the boys smiled and pointed at their father, Billy. Billy is an Eagle Scout himself. He earned the honor back in 1977 as a member of Troop 43, sponsored by the Nativity of Our Lord in South Scranton.
Billy signed his sons up all those years ago, and he’s kept them focused and committed ever since. And between schoolwork, drama club rehearsals, marching band practices and youth group meetings among other things taking up so much of their time, staying focused on scouting was no easy feat.
“You can look at an old picture from when we first joined with all the kids that are still there and all the kids that left,” said Jack.
Unlike many of the kids who quit along the way, Matt and Jack made it through it all — the courts of honor, the countless nights at Goose Pond, trips to Gettysburg, Washington and beyond. They grew into leaders in their troop — Matt earning the title of Quartermaster and Jack the Assistant Senior Patrol Leader. Now as Eagle Scouts, they’re leaders in the community as well.
To qualify for Eagle Scout, a scout must earn 21 merit badges, including 11 required badges. Among those are First Aid, Citizenship in the World, Communications, Personal Fitness, Personal Management and Family Life.
The twins exceeded that number with 25 each. Jack said one of the hardest badges for him to earn was his Citizenship in the World badge.
Jack admits he saw the badge as “a pain” at first, but when he had to take Civics class in high school, he was grateful for the knowledge already under his belt.
“What I learned from Boy Scouts, I was able to take take that knowledge into high school with me,” said Jack. “And it really helped with my grades.”
Matt, on the other hand, had to work hard for his Communications badge.
Billy and his wife Lesly, found out Matt was autistic when he was around three years old. They noticed he wasn’t talking as much as he should have been among other things. And growing up, they remember Matt was a quiet kid. That is, until he joined scouting.
“Matt did his first speech as part of his Communications merit badge,” Lesly said proudly.
Matt had help along the way, but he had all the same experiences and met all the same requirements as his brother and the rest of his troop, including earning that Communications badge.
And earning that badge led Matt to be interested in the communications field. He now aspires to become a writer, just like his favorite author — the man behind Goosebumps, R.L. Stine.
Matt and Jack also had to complete service projects to qualify for the honor of Eagle Scout. The project only had one real guideline: It had to benefit the community at large.
Jack, inspired by his passion for baseball, decided to reconstruct backstop and restore the base paths of the baseball field at Sherwood Park in Dunmore. Matt, on the other hand, learned from DPW officials that they were in need of a new flag pole. So under Matt’s leadership, members of Troop 66 worked to make that happen.
“All my life I’ve wanted to be a leader,” said Matt.
And the final step in becoming an Eagle Scout is passing the board of review. Both Matt and Jack were interviewed by their Scoutmaster, Dominic Pace, and three other scouting officials. They focus on a scout’s successes and other experiences. And you may have guessed it — both boys passed.
Becoming Eagle Scouts was a big milestone for not only the twins, but also for their Scoutmaster. Matt is Pace’s 49th Eagle Scout, and Jack his 50th.
The boys joke that it’s appropriate Matt earned the honor first because he’s the big brother — even if it’s only by a difference of 90 minutes.
And of course, it was a proud moment for their parents.
“You don’t know what to do,” said their mom, Lesly. “You don’t know whether to cry or be happy.”
“It was surreal,” their dad said. “You wait for the day for all these years, and the day comes and they did it. I’m very proud of them.”
The twins will have their Eagle Court of Honor later this month at the Dunmore Presbyterian Church in Dunmore. And although they have reached the top of the scouting ladder, they still plan to stay involved with the organization that taught them so much.
“For how long we’ve been doing this,” said Jack, “this was a nice final hurdle that we’ve passed.”