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The St. Joseph News Press recently featured the Pony Express Council and the council's 5000th Eagle Scout Cody Johnson, 17, of the Pony Express Council

The article appears below.

Eagle Scout No. 5000 Graduates

By Marshall White

Published Sunday April 5, 2009

Eagle Scouts aren’t a dime a dozen. So Northwest Missouri’s Pony Express Council of the Boy Scouts of America celebrated when No. 5,000 graduated on the last Saturday in March.

Cody Johnson, 17, became No. 5,000. But the road to that number started with the formation of a local Boy Scout program back in 1916.

“On average, only three out of every 100 boys joining the Boy Scouts will go on to attain the rank,” said Alan Franks, the council’s chief executive.

Those few Scouts who persisted

attained more than just a rank, said Dan Danford, who became an Eagle Scout in 1972. At the Family Investment Center, Mr. Danford and his two business partners have all earned the rank of Eagle Scout.

It’s not unusual to find more than one Eagle in the same family. Clark Hampton became an Eagle Scout in 1949, and his son and grandson also earned the rank of Eagle Scout in 1969 and 1999.

For the family of Cody Johnson, 17, the achievement of becoming an Eagle is something it was prepared for, because the Boy Scout’s brother, Joey Johnson, also attained the rank.

One of the reasons the Eagle Scout program is a milestone for communities in Northwest Missouri is because each Eagle created a project that helps a community, Mr. Franks said. Cody Johnson, for example, chose to rehabilitate the old Saddle Club grounds in Hamilton, Mo. The club doesn’t exist any longer and the grounds had fallen into disrepair.

A Boy Scout has to earn the ranks of Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star and Life and complete all the work to earn 21 merit badges, some that are required and some that are elective, if he is to become an Eagle.

“The hardest merit badge for me was personal management,” said Cody Johnson. He had to keep a written record of every penny he received, showing how it was earned and where the money was spent.

The easiest was the camping badge, said Cody, who enjoys going on 50-mile bike rides, hiking the Katy Trail and taking canoe trips.

After merit badges, a Scout faces a daunting review process that approves the project idea and checks its progress and outcome. And each candidate must verbalize the current impact of Scouting on his life.

“Being an Eagle Scout carries with you throughout your life, but I think most new Eagle Scouts don’t have any idea how important it will be,” Mr. Hampton said. “For me, I really believe that ‘On my honor, I will do my best’ became a part of my life in everything I’ve done.”

Today, the Pony Express Council has more than 1,200 Scouts who are participating in programs that give each an opportunity to impact their community and, potentially, become an Eagle Scout.

Marshall White can be reached at marshall@npgco.com.

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