Last year, summer campers had to wait in the hot Texas sun to ride the rope swing at Peaceable Kingdom Retreat Center for Children in Killeen.
That was until Heights resident Connor Atkins, 14, led friends, parents and members of Boy Scout Troop 255 in building a shaded wooden waiting area for campers at the special needs facility.
The project was one of many community service projects Atkins completed to become an Eagle Scout May 9. He had to earn 21 merit badges – given for service in specific fields, like aviation – to ascend to the highest rank.
“Him making Eagle Scout in middle school is a big achievement,” said troop parent Maxine Tipton. “Usually Scouts make Eagle Scout at (age) 16 or 17.”
Many steps went into planning the waiting area.
“We checked their website and they said they needed a permanent shade structure for the area,” Atkins said. “We talked to their volunteer coordinator, and we took a trip to Peaceable Kingdom. We did a very basic design given by the management crew.”
Atkins said it was an honor to be named an Eagle Scout, because few people join Boy Scouts.
“Even fewer become Eagle Scouts,” he said. “I’m not going to be done with scouting just because I reached Eagle, I’m going to stick around to help others.”
He’s set his sights on earning the three Eagle Palms, marks of progress for scouts who continue at the highest level.
Atkins went to his first Cub Scout meeting between fourth and fifth grades, and stayed with it.
An eighth-grader at Union Grove Middle School, he plays violin in the orchestra. He also enjoys soccer and flying.
“Not models, but actual planes,” Atkins said. “I started last summer and took another (lesson) this fall. I’m far from licensed, but I know how to operate all the instruments of a small aircraft.”
Atkins has plans to attend college, but he’s also considering joining the Army after graduation. He will be a freshman at Harker Heights High School this fall.