Harrisburg Eagle Scout named N.C.’s best of the year
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Monday, Jul. 14, 2014

Harrisburg Eagle Scout named N.C.’s best of the year

  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/07/14/13/17/QyrAr.Em.138.jpeg|235
    - COURTESY OF TREMAYNE BROOKER
    Friends and family celebrate with Scouts from Troop 49 after the ceremony dedicating the newly expanded military memorial that helped Trevor Heffner earn N.C. Eagle Scout of the Year awards from the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/07/14/13/17/Ol60n.Em.138.jpeg|210
    - COURTESY OF JIM HEFFNER
    During construction of the military memorial, Trevor Heffner posed for a photo with his outline of a semicircular walkway.

Eagle Scout Trevor Heffner received two statewide awards last month.

The American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars recognized Heffner, 18, of Harrisburg as their North Carolina Eagle Scout of the Year.

The honors add to his already impressive list of awards, which includes the God and Life award, Palms (given for merit badges earned after a Boy Scout achieves Eagle rank) and the Brotherhood of the Order of the Arrow.

Each state award is a scholarship given by the veterans organization to honor those who demonstrate to the fullest the values of Boy Scouts. Heffner received the American Legion Award, for $250, June 13 at the annual state convention in Raleigh and the VFW award, for $500, June 7 in Greensboro.

This year, the competition for the American Legion award was tough, and the committee was split. Veterans whom Heffner deeply respects gave him standing ovations at the conferences, he said, putting into perspective the effect on the community of his dedication to Boy Scouts.

One of the deciding factors in his selection for the awards was Heffner’s Eagle service project from 2012. The undertaking was inspired by his troop’s ongoing involvement with the military and by the 18 veterans in Heffner’s family.

Behind the church where Troop 49 meets is a military memorial built by a previous Eagle Scout, Nirav Lakhani, with additions by another previous Eagle, Alex Stone. Heffner added five flagpoles and plaques, one to honor each branch of the military, and built a sidewalk that wraps around the memorial.

To get local veterans involved and raise money for the project, Heffner started a campaign that placed a plaque honoring each veteran who donated to the endeavor. The project originally stemmed from the work of Christopher Chapman, a member of Troop 49 who later became a war hero.

Chapman initially created a military memorial behind the church. He died in a Blackhawk helicopter crash during the Persian Gulf War and is now buried at that memorial, honoring his service.

It is rare for a Scout to remain involved in his troop after he has achieved Eagle rank; last year only 7 percent of Boy Scouts did so. Heffner said part of the reason he stayed active in Troop 49, sponsored by Back Creek ARP Church, as a Venture crew member was his desire to mentor younger Scouts.

He almost left, however, when his father gave him the choice to quit Scouts after Heffner led a Scout summer camp as Senior Patrol Leader. Charged with plotting out the entire experience, Heffner admitted he made blunders in the planning, which resulted in stiff criticism from other leaders.

Heffner had to learn quickly from the advice from other patrol leaders. Despite his attempt to turn it around, he still counts the summer camp experience as a failure.

Faced with his father’s way out, Heffner decided to continue with Scouts and become the type of leader he looked up to while a Cub, the lowest division of Boy Scouting. Now, other patrol leaders come to him for advice.

From the time he joined Troop 49, Heffner has been inspired to lead and mentor others, a sentiment born from his Scoutmaster, Chip Wampler. Without Wampler’s guidance, Heffner said, he would not have created an Eagle service project that had such impact.

The Scoutmaster holds his troop to a higher standard, expecting their projects to be more than just a new picnic table in a park. Wampler pushes the Scouts to achieve an award that goes beyond the name and means more to them personally. Heffner said he values his Eagle Scout award more than graduation from high school.

Besides serving the troop, Heffner is an active member of multiple youth groups in local churches, taking mentorship one step further. Recalling the effect seniors had when they reached out to him when he was younger, he makes an effort to reach out to more introverted members. Heffner remembers one classmate who started out shy but, with Heffner’s support, gained confidence and eventually became an Eagle Scout.

Heffner plans to continue with Scouts in college as an assistant Scoutmaster in Boone, where he will attend Appalachian State University and pursue a degree in psychology and criminal justice.

His advice to young Scouts? It’s going to be hard, and you have to build your own drive, but the struggle creates rewards.

Tucker: 704-358-5112

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