It’s been a long and often dusty road for four young men, but
their journey together as Boy Scouts is almost completed. Jonathan
Downam of Arleta, Terry Thompson of Tujunga, David Cohen of Sunland
and Matthew Brooks of Burbank will receive the rank of Eagle Scout
during their Court of Honor ceremony Feb. 16 at the First United
Methodist Church in Burbank.
Through camping and survival experiences with Troop 209, these
Scouts have learned leadership skills, bonded and become reliant on
each other, said Jonathan, 16, the group’s spokesman.
Their trek began as Cub Scouts in first grade at Village Christian
School. They remained members of Troop 209, part of the Verdugo Hills
Council, even after going on to different junior and senior high
To have four boys continue from Cub Scouts to the Eagle Scout rank
in the same troop is very unusual, Troop 209 Scoutmaster John McShane
Typically, national statistics show 7% advance to Eagle Scout, he
said. Boys move with their families to another city and join a troop
there, and others discontinue membership.
“The thing that stands out with them is they have a desire to
achieve tests and accomplishments and to do them on time, which is
basically what the program is about,” he said.
All four have gone to at least one of the three Scouts’ National
High Adventure Bases, and two of them have gone to all three.
At 13, the four Scouts earned the Oak Badge.
“We went to a camp for a week and learned leadership traits,”
Jonathan said. “When we came back, we helped other patrols to be a
team, and taught the patrol leader how to become a leader.”
At 14, they went backpacking for 60 miles over seven days at the
Scout ranch in Cimarron, N.M.
For his Eagle Project, Jonathan cleaned and organized the church
kitchen at Emmanuel Evangelical Church in Burbank. He washed down the
walls and ceiling, cleaned the ovens, refrigerator, emptied and
cleaned the cabinets and put everything back. He also attached safety
hinges to make the doors earthquake-proof.
The other three earned their Eagle Scout rank by refurbishing the
Messenger Flats camp site in the Angeles National Forest. They
replaced the wood, sanded and painted the outhouse and picnic tables,
and took out the metal liners in the fire pits and cleaned out the
ashes. They also cleared away shrubbery to prevent a fire hazard.
By going on camping trips and working on service projects, young
men learn to rely on each other to get things accomplished, Jonathan
said. He said he has learned how to organize, set priorities and get
projects started. He believes he will carry those experiences with
him in his adult life.
“I feel more confident, like being a better leader, organizing
things and directing people on what to do,” he said. “If I get stuck
out in the wilderness, I’ll know what to do.”