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Valatie teen makes Eagle Scout

Jan 10, 2011 6:34 am
[caption id="" align="alignright" width="200" caption="Thomas Cleland, 18, received the rank of Eagle Scout at a ceremony held at the McNary Center of St. Paul’s Church in Kinderhook. Photo by David Lee from the Register Star website."][/caption]The Register Star leads with a story today on a new Eagle Scout from the Town of Kinderhook, 18 year old Thomas Edward Cleland from Valatie, who was honored in a ceremony held at the McNary Center of St. Paul’s Church in Kinderhook. “Only two percent of all boy scouts achieve the rank of Eagle Scout every year,” said Glenn Wallace, the Mahikan District Advancement chairman, who pointed out that Cleland was number 316 of only 319 Eagle Scouts from Columbia County, the first being Lawrence Andrews Sr., of Stockport Troop 1, who was so honored in August of 1922.

“You join these Eagles,” he told the young man, “those here and those who are with the greatest scout master of them all.”

“He went through Scouts, from Tiger, since (age) 5, to becoming an Eagle today,” said Cleland’s father, Paul. “It was a great experience for him. He learned how to accept help and give help.”

To earn the Eagle Scout rank, the highest advancement rank in Scouting, a Boy Scout must fulfill requirements in the areas of leadership, service, and outdoor skills, according to National Eagle Scout Association. Among the areas in which a Boy Scout must prove his mettle include first aid, citizenship and environmental science, among others.

A Scout must also complete a service project to become an Eagle. Cleland chose to update the existing maps of a section of the old cemetery, dating to around 1820, belonging to the Kinderhook Dutch Reformed Church. The information from the gravestones was collected and organized into what will be an online database that includes pictures.

Cleland said he spent around 50 hours on the project. “I had two computer technicians that helped me,” he said.

One of the hardest parts of the project, he said, was trying to decipher the names and dates on the old stones. Cleland dedicated the project to residents, past and present, of Kinderhook.

Of Scouting, Cleland said, he learned the true meaning of service.

Those in attendance used words such as “brave” and “dedicated” to describe Cleland.

Dr. Stephen Krizar, the Scoutmaster for Troop 113, said Cleland was someone with a lot of self-confidence and felt the word “brave” described him well.

“He is someone who can take his convictions and make them the guide for his life,” he said.

Maria Cammarata, the troop 113 committee chairperson, said that Cleland was full of determination.

“I’m in awe of what a fine young man he has become,” said the Rev. Stark Jones, who gave the invocation and benediction at the event. During his opening prayer he said that they were “there to mark the completion of a foundation built majestically and what he has built, he will stand on for the rest of his life.”

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