About 6.5 percent of all kids enrolled in the Boy Scouts of America last year earned the Eagle Scout honor, the highest designation within the nonprofit organization. Since its inception in 1912, a little more than 2 percent of the 105 million Boy Scouts have become Eagle Scouts.
An area family has defied those odds over a span of 70 years, with three generations having passed through the gauntlet of merit badges and leadership positions necessary to reach Eagle Scout status.
Sienna Plantation resident Stuart Jackson became an Eagle Scout in 1979, 30 years after his father, Donald Jackson. Now his son, George Jackson, a junior at Ridge Point High School, is set to become an Eagle Scout at an upcoming ceremony.
“My dad always wanted at least one of his two grandsons so we could pass that down to a third generation. It’s nice to know that he made it,” Stuart said. “I pushed him along probably a little faster than he might have wanted, but I wanted his grandfather to be able to see him make Eagle.”
Donald, 87, started the tradition as a boy in Denver. Stuart became an Eagle Scout in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and George is a member of Troop 1424 at New Hope Lutheran Church in Missouri City.
The Jacksons have cherished memories and accomplishments to share. Donald is staying with Stuart and George for a few weeks before moving to New Mexico.
“I’ll remember this for the rest of my life,” Donald said.
George joined the Cub Scouts in elementary school in the early 2000s. An avid outdoorsman even as a child, he sought out adventure at each turn.
But when Cub Scouts did not provide that rush he sought, he pulled back from scouting until joining up again in 2014.
“My dad and I thought it’d be fun to go camping, because I always loved being outdoors when I was younger,” he said. “Then, I noticed all the friends I was hanging out with were in Scouts and were always on camp outs. I thought, ‘This sounds pretty fun,’ so I joined up.”
For the three Jackson generations, part of the joy of scouting has been bonding time between father and son.
George and Stuart, a software engineer, have hiked the peak of 14,232-foot Mount Shavano in Colorado and been to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
“I remember telling George, ‘I was standing right here (at the base of the Grand Canyon) 35 years ago with your grandfather,’ and now I’m getting to stand there with my son,” Stuart said.
There also have been long conversations in the car and around campfires as well as motivating each other through grueling hikes.
“I’ve gotten to spend a lot more time with my dad and get to know him a lot better,” George said.
Donald recalled his own experiences as a Scout and leader.
He initially was a Cub Scout in San Francisco in the early 1940s and was spurred by his mother, who became a den mother and once took 12 Cub Scouts to the Golden Gate Bridge as part of a field trip.
His troop would collect everything aluminum from area households and take them downtown to aid the World War II effort.
Upon moving to Denver and joining the Boy Scouts there, it was much the same.
During Stuart’s Scout days, Donald recalled a scout camp in Colorado where the marksmanship badge was on the agenda. So, he and Stuart proceeded to shoot at the same time on the range – another event stored in the memory bank.
“It was the first time we had ever done that,” Donald said.
Once Boy Scouts earn the 21 merit badges and move through leadership positions necessary to attain the Eagle Scout honor, they must also devote an Eagle Scout project to the community.
Among required badges for any Boy Scout includes a first aid badge, swimming badge, and physical fitness badges. For physical fitness in particular , scouts must log physical activity five days per week over a period of three to six months.
Donald said he pushed Stuart toward completing all the necessary objectives, and Stuart has done the same with George.
“(My father) has been pushing me to do merit badge work at home so I can get them done,” George said. “I used to have a bunch of half-finished badges from camp that I just never touched. He pushed me, then I just started doing it on my own.”
All three Jacksons also possess the belief that serving communities can make them better. They consider that teaching the shining star of the Boy Scouts program.
“In our country, I think we’re getting further away from communities helping themselves within the community,” Stuart said. “Understanding your community and being in touch with what’s going on and who’s in need and helping them out is really important.”
For George’s Eagle Scout project, he collected used sports equipment such as lacrosse sticks, tennis rackets and baseball bats and gloves from area garage sales and his own garage.
The Jacksons later got in touch with Missouri City councilman Floyd Emery, who connected them with Missouri City’s Parks and Recreation department.
“We realized that we had a bunch of sports equipment in our garage that were just laying around since I jumped from sport to sport,” George said. “We refurbished the equipment and distributed the equipment to sports leagues around the area, and set up a booth to give it away.”
Seeing his son exemplify the Scouts’ mantra of community service, Stuart said, is one of the best rewards.
“The focus was to get it to kids who might not be able to normally access it or get that quality of equipment,” Stuart said. “I think to be in a situation where you’re actually handing it to the recipient using that and seeing them get to do something they might not otherwise be able to really solidifies that aspect.”
Donald agreed, beaming with pride about his grandson and his journey to becoming an Eagle Scout.
“It’s amazing that he went through it,” Donald said. “Nowadays, scouting doesn’t get looked up to the way it did when I was in it.
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