Tomas Young knew from a young age he wanted to become an Eagle Scout. His father Chris was a scout and brought him to Cub Scout meetings growing up, where Young learned that working up the ranks was something he desired.
Now Young, 14, has earned his Eagle Scout status as an eighth grader – one of the youngest to ever do it on Nantucket and as a member of Troop 97, according to Troop Leader Jason Zinser.
“He has gone beyond just his Eagle ranking,” Zinser said. “He is a machine.”
"I heard that High School is a lot of work so I really wanted to focus on academics,” Young said. “So I wanted to get Eagle Scout finished before then so I wouldn't be stressing to get that done.”
To become an Eagle Scout, one must climb seven Scouting ranks, earn 21 merit badges, complete an Eagle service project, become a leader within their troop, and prepare their final Eagle Scout binder.
But as Zinser said, not only did Young get it done, he went well beyond the requisites needed to become an Eagle Scout
Young didn’t just earn 21 merit badges. He has earned 71 badges to date and says that he isn’t done going for more despite earning the highest attainable rank in the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) program.
“I have 71 merit badges but only 66 are registered in so I have to get on getting those others registered in,” Young said. “There are 138 merit badges. Honestly, I definitely am not done getting more merit badges, but I don’t have a specific goal that I am trying to reach. I am going to gradually start getting more of them.”
Young didn’t rule out attempting to get all 138 available merit badges.
“Maybe,” he said when asked.
But Young pointed out that some badges are far more difficult to earn than others. He used his fingerprinting merit badge as an example of being one that took less than one day for him to earn, while his camping merit badge (one of 14 Eagle Scout merit badges that each scout is required to earn in order to become an Eagle Scout) takes a very long time because it requires 20 nights of camping out – including a required stretch of one-week straight camping.
Earning this rank is incredibly rare not just on the island, but across the country. Only about five percent of scouts are able to earn the rank of Eagle Scout.
Young also had to complete his Eagle Scout service project, which is supposed to benefit and support a Scout's local community in some way. Every aspiring Eagle Scout must complete their project before becoming eligible to earn the rank.
For Young, his project will be used by many people year-round for years to come – in particular over the summer.
If you find yourself enjoying the new Land Bank park off Milestone Road, known as “The Creeks Preserve,” and walk up to the top of the property to gaze out at The Creeks, you will see two Adirondack chairs placed side-by-side overlooking one of the island’s most beautiful views. Those chairs were made by Young with the help of several people across the island.
Young said the project in total took about 60.5 hours to complete. He began in May and finished in September. The construction of the chairs taught him leadership and time management.
“I think as a whole this whole process has taught me time management and just how to manage my time really well,” he said. “But then there is leadership where I learn how to lead other younger kids and how to make sure everything gets done because some younger kids will try to goof off and I have to tell them to knock it off.”
It began with Young needing permission from the Land Bank to station the chairs on their property, followed by Young raising money via a GoFundMe to pay for the lumber needed to complete the project as well as to pay for the services to cut the wood.
Young originally wanted to build giant Adirondack Chairs, which many people have likely seen at various parks across the country. However, the Land Bank asked Young if he would stick to normal-sized chairs, which he agreed to.
Young said Marine Home Center donated all of the supplies he needed to complete the project such as screws, sandpaper, etc.
From there, Young enlisted the help of Eugene Shubin, the owner of Empire Builders, to help him cut the wood.
"Then I took a group of volunteers, and they helped sand it,” Young said. “Who helped me with that was my dad - Chris Young - my brother Fernando Young, my friend Luke Champoux, and Steve Paradis. That was the group that helped sand and oil it.”
After the group oiled the chairs, the hairs on the wood stood up and they were left with no choice but to sand them all over again.
“That was a time-consuming lesson,” Tomas and Chris Young joked.
To help assemble the chairs he called on Marco, Robert, and Rob Graves (Rob is the father; Marco and Robert are his kids), as well as Cameron and Erik Johnson.
Tom Geras, the Land Bank’s property maintenance technician, helped Young install the chairs in the place they can be found today.
After completing a long list of paperwork – which Zinser said is over 30 pages – his project was approved by the Scout Council. Then after completing his project, Young had his Eagle border review where he attends an in-person meeting in which he was asked questions that help them decide whether he is worthy of becoming an Eagle Scout.
“I was deemed worthy,” Young said laughing. “There are some occasions where people get rejected, or they get told that they just aren’t ready yet. They’ll give you specific notes like you need to be more talkative, have more leadership skills, stuff like that.”
Young said he will also be getting some Eagle Palms. For every five merit badges earned beyond the 21 required for Eagle, Scouts get one bronze palm. If you get 10 more than needed, you get a gold palm. If you get 15 more than you need, you get a silver palm. This system is based on how the military ranks officers – which dates back to the Civil War.
“If you get 20 you get a silver and a bronze. So since I have 50 more than required I have three silver palms and then a bronze,” Young said. “I think I am going to work to try to get at least four silver palms.”
Zinser told the Current that what Young accomplished is a rare feat. He said normally scouts aren’t as focused or as driven as Young was to get all of the work done in such a short period of time.
Zinser said Young will be the sixth scout in the past two years to obtain Eagle Scout status after the island went over a decade without having one scout earn the prestigious mark. Last year, three scouts were honored at the top of Main Street during Christmas Stroll weekend. Young said his ceremony will be held privately.
“When he first joined after we got a few weeks into it he said to me, ‘I'm going to get to Eagle before I get to high school,’" Zinser said. "I said ‘Dude that is a tough nut to crack and he said ‘I know but I am going to do it’ and well, he did it. He was dialed in from the very beginning. Came into every meeting, got things signed off, was always prepared, and was always willing to show what he did to the guys who hadn’t done stuff yet – which made him a great teacher. He is really beginning to grow into a position of leadership. He went from somebody who was pretty soft-spoken and timid to being able to give his voice out amongst the troop. They actually voted him as senior leader this year, so he is in charge of the Troop.”
Zinser, who took over the Troop in 2019, said they have lots of excellent leaders doing whatever they can to help these scouts do well and progress up the ranks – which has helped lead to this surge of scouts earning their Eagle Scout Rank.
As for Young, he said he is happy to be done with the process but isn't ready to ride off into the sunset just yet.
"I am very happy this is over but as I said, I still have more I'd like too," he said.