Eagle Scout Payton of Forest Park sitting on the steps of St. John’s Lutheran Church on Sunday February 5th. | Sara Janz

Peyton Brown became an Eagle Scout on Jan. 26, an achievement attained by only 5% of the 1.12 million boys and girls involved in the Scouts BSA program as of 2020 [formerly Boy Scouts of America] and of the 110 million Americans who have been part of Scouting since the organization was founded in 1910. And, Brown is reportedly the first Eagle Scout out of a Forest Park troop in decades.

One reason so few Scouts make Eagle is that the requirements are extensive — earn 21 merit badges, be involved in a leadership position in your troop, do a service project and “tell how you have done your duty to God, how you have lived the Scout Oath and Scout Law in your everyday life, and how your understanding of the Scout Oath and Scout Law will guide your life in the future.”

Brown said merit badges are designed to increase your skill at, for example, knot tying or cooking, but that the main benefit of earning each one is the experience a Scout gains in earning them.  In that sense, he said, they are not hard.  What they require is a lot of time.

Brown grew up in Forest Park where his family owns Brown Cow Ice Cream. He now lives in Brookfield but continues with the Forest Park troop.

Scouts can choose potential badges from a list of 130.  Of the 21 badges that must be earned to make Eagle, the following 14 are required: Camping, Personal Fitness, Personal Management, Swimming (or Hiking or Cycling), First Aid, Citizenship in Community, Citizenship in the Nation, Citizenship in Society, Citizenship in the World, Cooking, Family Life, Emergency Preparedness (or lifesaving), Environmental Science (or Sustainability) and Communication.

Peyton Brown with his mom, Connie Brown. | Provided

“I went into scouts thinking just about camping,” Brown said, “but I soon realized that Scouting is about becoming a whole person.”

Brown emphasized that he learned a lot about leadership in Scouting.  “The experience and the lessons I have learned as a leader, I will carry that forever,” he said. Brown has held every leadership position possible in Troop 107 which meets at St. John Lutheran Church, 305 Circle Ave. 

“You actually learn a lot about who you are as a leader,” he said.  “I learned how to see everyone as individuals and to take everyone’s ideas into account.  When I was interviewing a school board member for one of my Citizenship merit badges, it made me think about what it takes to make a positive impact on the community — a lot of stuff I had never thought about.”

Brown’s Eagle project was building a composting station behind St. John with a rotating 55-gallon drum.

This summer he will be an instructor at Camp Owasippe in Michigan where he will be leading experiences in camping and in search and rescue.  Next year he plans to study mechanical engineering or civil engineering at Montana Tech in Butte.  He admitted that leaving the flat land of Illinois and going to Butte which is nestled in the mountains was a motivation for choosing Montana Tech.  

One of his favorite stories involving both nature and leadership was the time he planned a camping trip for his troop into the Badlands of South Dakota.  “I was just 14 and I planned the whole trip, a trip I will always remember.  We had to cut it short because a storm came through with nonstop lightening and gale force winds that broke all of our tents.  Every tent was flattened with Scouts huddled in the center with the lights of their phones shining through the collapsed tent.  It was crazy!”

He said he received a lot of support from his mother who owns the Brown Cow Ice Cream Shop in Forest Park and his father and grandfather, both of whom were Eagle Scouts.

Scout Law

A Scout is:

TRUSTWORTHY. Tell the truth and keep promises. People can depend on you.

LOYAL. Show that you care about your family, friends, Scout leaders, school, and country.

HELPFUL. Volunteer to help others without expecting a reward.

FRIENDLY. Be a friend to everyone, even people who are very different from you.

COURTEOUS. Be polite to everyone and always use good manners.

KIND. Treat others as you want to be treated. Never harm or kill any living thing without good reason.

OBEDIENT. Follow the rules of your family, school, and pack. Obey the laws of your community and country.

CHEERFUL. Look for the bright side of life. Cheerfully do tasks that come your way. Try to help others be happy.

THRIFTY. Work to pay your own way. Try not to be wasteful. Use time, food, supplies, and natural resources wisely.

BRAVE. Face difficult situations even when you feel afraid. Do what you think is right despite what others might be doing or saying.

CLEAN. Keep your body and mind fit. Help keep your home and community clean.

REVERENT. Be reverent toward God. Be faithful in your religious duties. Respect the beliefs of others.