Many may start out well-intentioned, but earning the Eagle Scout designation is something a select few boys have the dedication and leadership skills to achieve.
The bright orange and black tiger (aka a teacher in costume) made an appearance at morning line-up every fall. Each year, a new crop of first grade boys would eagerly join the world of scouting by becoming a Tiger Cub.
Greg Confessore signed up as a Tiger Cub, and now the senior has achieved the rank of Eagle, something only about 4-5 percent of Boy Scouts ever do. The percentage of those who become involved as Cub Scouts in elementary school and ultimately achieve the Eagle designation is significantly lower.
“I knew from the beginning that I wanted to stay involved,” said Greg, who received the coveted Eagle rank in late September. “My dad [West Hartford native Tim Confessore, who is now the owner of ] was a Boy Scout, and was even in the same troop in West Hartford,” Greg said.
“I wear his old neckerchief to meetings. He made it to [the rank of] First Class, which is the third level out of six to become an Eagle Scout.”
When he graduated from Webster Hill’s Cub Scout program and entered in 2005, Greg joined Boy Scout Troop #163, which meets at . Steve Zukowski, who was also a Cub Scout leader and Scoutmaster at Webster Hill, is still Greg’s troop leader.
To achieve the rank of Eagle, a Boy Scout must first progress through the ranks of Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, and Life. He must also earn 21 merit badges, in areas such as first aid, citizenship, communications, and emergency preparedness. It’s a lengthy process, which takes many years.
However, it the planning, developing and leading of the Eagle Scout project that is perhaps the most daunting obstacle for many who aspire to reach the top rank. The project must be for the benefit of “any religious organization or any school or community,” according to the Boy Scouts of America website.
“I spent months looking for a project,” said Greg. He was ultimately referred by his troop leader to Dr. Plato Karafelis, principal of , who provided him with several service project ideas.
“I did research to see which of his ideas would have the greatest impact,” said Greg, who eventually chose the task of building birdhouses to encourage the return of bluebirds to Wolcott Children’s Forest which is adjacent to Wolcott Elementary School.
“Most people don’t realize what bluebirds are; they think of blue jays,” said Greg.
According to the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection, “the Eastern Bluebird, one of the most loved and beneficial birds, declined in numbers from the late 1800s through the 1980s. One significant contributing factor to this decline was the lack of suitable nesting cavities needed by the bluebird to successfully raise young.”
For his Eagle project, Greg supervised the building of 15 new bluebird houses for the Wolcott Children’s Forest. All of the materials were donated, and family and friends helped with the construction and installation.
Successful organization and leadership of the project is what needs to be demonstrated to earn the rank of Eagle, not necessarily performing the labor for the chosen project. “I was supposed to lead others, and it took seven of us,” Greg said. His dad and six friends – some of whom are also Boy Scouts – installed the birdhouses.
Greg is thankful to his friends and family, as well as Russell Hunter at in West Hartford Center, for support and assistance. Doug Jackson at was also instrumental in helping Greg research bluebird habitats and the quirks of their housing needs. Greg even went back to Westmoor and helped with a birdhouse building workshop for elementary school children.
The project took more than six months to complete. “I scoped out the area last winter, got the materials in late April, assembled the birdhouses in late June and early July, and installed them in August,” Greg said.
The birdhouses may look unfinished, but they are purposely left unpainted. “Bluebirds are picky, and they don’t like painted houses,” said Greg.
Greg said that the project has proven successful, and he has seen bluebirds using the houses.
Greg will officially receive his Eagle Scout honors in a ceremony with fellow Eagle candidate Jonathan Zukowski later this year or in early 2012, once Zukowski has completed his project. Greg plans to start working on his palms, which is the next step after Eagle, and should be able to earn two of them before his 18th birthday.
Greg is now busy applying to college. He is a member of Conard’s varsity football team, but an injury has kept him on the sidelines for most of the season. He was a member of the Connecticut TD Bank Senior Division 19U Championship baseball team this past summer, and hopes to be back on the diamond for Conard this spring.
“The biggest thing about keeping kids involved in scouting from younger to older years is getting support at a young age,” Greg said.
How has scouting changed his life? “It’s all about developing leadership skills – community service projects and everything else comes back to leadership.”