Worrell makes history

Published 9:44 am Thursday, August 6, 2009

COLERAIN — For many in Colerain the consensus is that one young man has now paved the way for others.

During a Friday ceremony, Eric Worrell, 18, of Colerain Boy Scout Troop 135 became the first Eagle Scout in Bertie County in more than three decades.

Dozens of fellow boy scouts, family members, friends, well wishers and even a former Eagle Scout came to Colerain United Methodist Church to watch Worrell break a 33 year epoch and attain the highest rank in the Boy Scouting program.

“He was once a boy scout with boyish ideas, now he is nearly a man,” Rev. Walter Johnston said to the audience during the Eagle Court of Honor ceremony. “I know he’s going to be a great man in his community. He may not be known world wide, but he will be known by his community.”

Johnston is one of many who have watched Worrell work to achieve the Eagle Scout title. He baptized the now Eagle Scout two years ago at the Colerain United Methodist Church.

“He’s always been very diligent,” said Johnston. “He’s going to be a benefit to this community and he’s going to be one of those that stays in the community.”

In January, Transit Parts (the Rich Square company Johnston is vice president of) partnered with Kidde Safety Products to donate 24 smoke detectors for Worrell’s service project, just one of the many requirements to be met by an Eagle Scout candidate. For his project, Worrell educated senior citizens and low income families about fire safety as well as provided them with a smoke alarm.

The Eagle Scout rank may be earned by a Boy Scout or Varsity Scout who has been a Life Scout for at least six months, earns a minimum of 21 merit badges, demonstrates Scout Spirit, and demonstrates leadership in the troop. The scout must also plan, develop and lead a service project that shows both leadership and a commitment to duty. Participation in a Scoutmaster conference is also a requirement. After all prerequisites are met, he must then complete an Eagle Scout board of review.

Worrell completed those requirements just before his 18th birthday, the age cut off for becoming an Eagle Scout.

Johnston said Worrell’s parents, William and Rhonda, prompted their son to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout. William is the Scoutmaster for Troop 135, which boasts 12 members.

William Worrell said his son began his scouting career at age 7 in Tiger Cub Scouts. Since then Mr. Worrell has seen his son develop from a timid child into a brave young man.

“It keeps young men off the streets,” he said about the benefits of the scouting program. “There’s loads of stuff they can learn that helps them in becoming leaders.”

Eric Worrell said he has an interest in being involved in emergency medical services, fire and rescue and law enforcement. The latter Worrell said he is determined to get involved in after losing a friend to a drunk driving crash.

The teen is already an active member at the Colerain Fire Department and EMS.

“I have a lot of goals I want to achieve,” he said. “I made one, now I have to make the rest.”

Like any proud mother, Rhonda Worrell said she was “on top of the world” about her son’s achievement.

“I’m excited to see him succeed…he worked very hard for this,” she said.

Mrs. Worrell said she feels her son’s success in scouting will take him many places and now has a sense of satisfaction as a parent.

“I feel like I can step back and let go,” she said. “I feel like my job has been accomplished.”

Troop 135 Junior Scoutmaster John Hedges served as Worrell’s mentor in becoming an Eagle Scout. Hedges set goals for the scout to meet and provided guidance throughout the Eagle process.

“His project was exceptional,” he said. “He could save lives with the smoke detectors.”

For many citizens in Colerain, Worrell’s achievement signifies the path being paved for other young men to do the same.

According to Ronnie Felton and Randy Perry, both of Colerain, the last young man to reach Eagle Scout rank in Bertie County was 33 years ago. The two men said Troop 135 was a strong group in the area in the 1960’s and 1970’s. The troop was led by many notables, including the late Seaton Fairless. Then participation decreased, sending Troop 135 into oblivion. In 2002, the group was resurrected with a new batch of scouts.

Perry, a former Eagle Scout himself, was invited to the Eagle Court of Honor ceremony to watch Worrell join the ranks of many before him. It was noted by Johnston and others how many of those who earned Eagle Scout went on to be successful in life. Perry is among those scouts.

He said background in scouting help lead him into the ecology and biology fields. Perry was a professor and scientist for 29 years and said he spent much of his career in marshes and swamps, something scouting undoubtedly prepared him for.

“It’s a lot harder now,” he said of Worrell’s work to get to Eagle Scout. “The challenges facing young people…there are a lot more; the temptations are magnified.”

Additionally, Perry noted the problem with finding adults to support and back scouting programs in communities.

It’s a problem that doesn’t seem to be present in the town of Colerain. While many relish in the goal met by Worrell and his parents, many agreed the community support behind Boy Scout Troop 135 is part of that successful equation.

William Worrell said he is working with yet another young man in earning the top rank in scouting.

Eric Worrell himself sent words of encouragement to those wanting to achieve Eagle Scout or any goal in life.

“Just go as far as you can go and work hard,” he advised.

For more information about Boy Scout Troop 135 or the Scouting program contact William Worrell at (252) 356-2147.