For the last 12 years Ben Keppers has been diligently working through the ranks of Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts on his way to a perch few ever reach.
While he earned his Eagle Scout rank in September 2020, he was finally pinned with eagle wings during an official Court of Honor ceremony Monday, April 19, at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Wadena. His rise in ranks of Troop 54 took time and energy and support from his family.
The crowning moment was special for his father, Bob, who has been involved with Boy Scouts with Ben for the last 12 years. He is the current Troop 54 Scoutmaster.
“It was a pretty good moment knowing what it takes, how few people make it,” Bob Keppers said. Since 1912, only about 4% of Scouts have earned the rank, according to the Boy Scouts of America.
One major project Keppers, 18, had to complete included the landscaping project at the Birch Shelter in Sunnybrook Park. Keppers brought his plan to the Wadena City Council in June of 2018 and made improvements to signage, cleaned up dead trees and replanted the site throughout the summer. He even raised funds to pay for the materials at the city-owned park.
“I was given a list of things I could do around the city,” Keppers said. “That was the one I decided on.”
An Eagle Scout must earn 21 merit badges before their 18th birthday. Keppers said merits revolved around hard work and some included first aid, health and fitness and finances. He said going through the ranks of Boy Scouts has helped him as a student and he can see how it will help him in the future.
“It’s a lot of hard work,” Keppers said. “One thing it really hammered on is leadership, just how to lead.”
He's been using that leadership in volunteering regularly throughout the community for most of his life. All that work helps him realize that he earned that Eagle Scout honor that few ever receive.
“It’s nice being that exclusive thing,” he said. “Everyone can earn it, but not everyone does.”
After years of learning outdoor skills, Keppers said his future plans are now focused on attending University of Wisconsin Superior where he plans to work his way towards becoming a history teacher. He graduates from Wadena-Deer Creek at the end of May.
Wadena Eagle Scouts
Wadena’s Troop 54 has a proud past of Eagle Scouts. Keppers became the 80th Eagle Scout, based on Troop 54 records. The Troop’s first included Sam Dower and Tom Davis in June of 1937.
From 1912 to 2019, 2.6 million Scouts have earned Eagle Scout rank.