The Rapidian

Local Eagle Scout continues his Scouting journey

New Eagle Scout Zach Schemmel keeps serving, growing in Scouting
Zach Schemmel

Zach Schemmel /Jay Schemmel

Alex Schemmel, Jay Schemmel, Zach Schemmel, Pat Schemmel, Jason Schemmel

Alex Schemmel, Jay Schemmel, Zach Schemmel, Pat Schemmel, Jason Schemmel /Toni Falk

Zach Schemmel at his Eagle Court of Honor

Zach Schemmel at his Eagle Court of Honor /Jay Schemmel

For many an Eagle Scout, the path to Scouting's highest rank ends with a frantic sprint of completing requirements just before his 18th birthday.  But for Zach Schemmel, earning his Eagle badge at 16 means new opportunities to grow and contribute before he ages out of Scouting in February 2015.

Boy Scouts of America (BSA) Troop 200 awarded Schemmel the Eagle Scout rank Saturday at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Parish (IHM).  Schemmel's Eagle Court of Honor celebrated a journey in Scouting he began 10 years ago as a six-year-old Tiger Cub Scout and looks forward to continuing.

In his brief Eagle Scout speech, Schemmel, a junior at East Kentwood High School active in student council and varsity swimming, recalled fondly his earliest Scouting activities. These included Cub Scout pinewood derbies and rocket races, as well as his patrol unwittingly setting up camp on the edge of a cliff on his first Boy Scout campout. 

Schemmel said the highlight of his Scouting career was passing his Eagle Scout board of review on June 18th, his parents’ 30th wedding anniversary, an accomplishment that prompted an unexpected response.

“I started to shed tears,” he told the Court audience.

When interviewed after the Court, Shemmel elaborated on his feelings that June evening.

“I was shaking when I first got to my board of review,” he said.

And his emotions only intensified when his reviewers told him the good news.

“I was pretty shocked; I couldn’t say words,” Schemmel said.  “I was shedding tears. It was the happiest day of my life.” 

Schemmel’s Scouting accomplishments were noted by the Court's master of ceremony, Alex Schemmel—Zach Schemmel's older brother and himself an Eagle Scout.  He stated that Zach Schemmel has served Troop 200 as Scribe, Quartermaster, Troop Guide and currently serves as Assistant Senior Patrol Leader.  Alex Schemmel also noted that Zach Schemmel is an active member of the Order of the Arrow, BSA's honor society, and that he served this past summer on the staff at Gerber Scout Camp in Twin Lake, Mich.

Jaki Spencer, unit commissioner for BSA's Gerald R. Ford Council, served alongside Schemmel at Gerber.  In an interview before the ceremony, Spencer said she quickly sensed Schemmel was "the kind of young man that Eagles are made of."

"I noticed his willingness to reach out to young Scouts to make them feel comfortable, make them feel excited about Scouting, make the young guys realize that Scouting is a brotherhood.”

Ben Willison, Troop 200’s newest and youngest Scout at age 11, echoed Spencer’s assessment of Schemmel.

“He welcomed me into the troop and on my first outing,” Ben said. “He showed me the way.”

Speaking during the ceremony, Spencer, who also served on Schemmel’s board of review, told the audience she looks forward to Schemmel’s ongoing contribution to Scouting.

“The work of becoming an Eagle is done,” she said. “The mission, the adventure of being an Eagle has just begun.”

Schemmel’s continued growth as an Eagle Scout was recognized during the ceremony when he received his Eagle Bronze Palm, awarded to Eagle Scouts who earn an additional five merit badges beyond the 21 required for Eagle and continue in troop leadership three months beyond passing their boards of review. 

In awarding the Bronze Palm to Zach Schemmel, Alex Schemmel observed that while only four percent of Scouts earn Eagle, only one in 10 Eagle Scouts earn the Bronze Palm. 

Alex Schemmel also noted that Zach Schemmel is preparing to work on his fourth Catholic Scouting emblem, the final such emblem available for Scouting youth.

Schemmel’s Catholic Scouting emblems demonstrate how his Scouting journey has coincided with church participation. Schemmel and his family are active members at IHM, Troop 200’s sponsoring institution.  For his Eagle Service Project, Schemmel led a team in assembling 12 “busy bags” for children at IHM. Each “busy bag” contains books, coloring pages, crayons and a rosary. Schemmel also oversaw construction of wooden racks that hold the bags.

During the ceremony, Schemmel presented Eagle father and mother pins to his parents, Jay and Pat Schemmel, and Eagle mentor pins to Troop 200 Scoutmaster Dan Erickson and Troop 200 Scout Leader Toni Falk.

Erickson commended Zach Schemmel for his development as a leader, emphasizing his performance at the troop’s recent outing, the Mackinac Rendevous.

“A year ago he didn’t have a whole lot of confidence,” Erickson said before the ceremony. “This past weekend was quite a difference in who Zach has become. He knew what needed to be done. . . . He had a lot more confidence.”

Pat Schemmel, Troop 200’s Scoutmaster from 2008 to 2012, spoke of her youngest son’s accomplishments within a larger context.

“I’m very proud of the whole family,” said Schemmel, who, like her husband, Jay Schemmel, remains an active Troop 200 Adult Leader. “Scouting is a family activity. I think that’s why we like it so much.” 

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