Considering only about 5% of Boy Scouts achieve scouting’s highest rank, Eagle Scout, Gonzaga Prep’s class of 2019 is remarkable. Thirteen of its 117 graduates earned their Eagle Scout ranking. The national average is about 4 to 6 boys per 100.
“Gonzaga Prep typically has a few graduating Eagle Scouts annually, but this number is a record for us. It speaks to the diligence and commitment of these young men, of these high achieving students,” said Vice Principal of Academics, Derek Duchesne.
Even more unusual, one of those 13 scouts, Richard Brown, earned every merit badge possible – a whopping 137. He’s now one of the 380 Boy Scouts to accomplish this in the organization’s 109 year history. He joins 0.00003% of Scouts to achieve this rare honor.
Three of Gonzaga Prep’s Eagle Scouts spoke with The Spokesman-Review about their scouting experience.
Brown is nothing if not determined. At 11, he decided he wanted to earn all 137 merit badges.
“I asked my scoutmaster if it was possible and he said it is, but rare and very difficult,” Brown recalled.
Undaunted, Brown got busy.
“Fingerprinting was the easiest badge to earn,” he said. “It took the least amount of effort, just a couple days at summer camp.”
If you think the most difficult badge he earned involved something strenuous like rock climbing or scuba diving, you’d be wrong. It was bugling that proved problematic for Brown.
“You have to learn the instrument and memorize and play several different bugle calls in front of your counselor. It took me three years, and was the last badge I earned,” he said.
Far more fun for Brown was the aviation badge.
“I got to fly an Alaska Airline pilot-training simulator!” he said.
He also completed his photography merit badge in Antelope Canyon in Arizona and wrote a story for the Spokane Valley News Herald as part of the journalism merit badge.
For Brown’s Eagle Scout project, he cleaned over 100 storm drains and stenciled “Dump no waste” signs near them.
“I want my grandkids to have the same clean drinking water I do,” Brown said.
Scouting is not his only interest. He played lacrosse, football and wrestled for G-Prep, as well as appearing in several theatrical productions at the school.
“I got to play Tevye in ‘Fiddler on the Roof,’ my senior year,” he said.
He’s also a ski coach, a lifeguard, and recently returned from Africa where he climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.
“I love mountaineering. Climbing Kilimanjaro has been my goal since I was a little kid,” Brown said. “It was amazing.”
And more goals await him.
This summer he’s working as a wildland firefighter, and he plans to attend Eastern Washington University in the fall.
“After college I want to become a scoutmaster and have my own troop,” he said. “Scouting has taught me so much that can never be taken away from me. I want to do as much as I can to help scouting thrive.”
Andru Miller Zodrow
Miller Zodrow found his passion while earning his citizenship in the nation merit badge.
“I’m a bit of a civics nerd,” he said. “I really enjoy debate, journalism and politics.”
Visiting museums, contacting congressional representatives – he loved it all.
“I’m going to major in economics and political science at Seattle University,” Miller Zodrow said.
He has a full ride scholarship to the university, thanks in part to his achievements and experiences as a Boy Scout.
While he loved earning his citizenship badges, the outdoor survival badge wasn’t as enjoyable.
“They dropped us off in a remote part of the woods. No sleeping bag. No tent. Just a water bottle,” he recalled. “We built a shelter and slept very little.”
His Eagle Scout project was building two weather-resistant picnic tables for the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery.
“We ended up installing them in a mid-February snowstorm,” Zodrow said.
He credits the supportive staff at Gonzaga Prep, and the involvement of his parents for his scouting success.
His parents served as scout leaders at different times, and he also enjoyed earning many of his merit badges alongside his cousin, fellow Eagle Scout and Prep graduate, Richard Brown.
A phrase from the Boy Scout oath resonates with Miller Zodrow.
“A Scout should be physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight,” he said. “That’s significant to me because it signifies that scouting shapes the whole person.”
When Brewer transitioned from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts, his focus shifted.
“It was less about having fun and more about helping others – that’s when the service-to-others piece really comes into play,” he said.
That’s not to say he didn’t have fun, but Brewer’s idea of fun happens to include helping others.
“I earned my lifesaving merit badge at Camp Grizzly and enjoyed every second of it,” he said.
In fact, it prompted him to become a lifeguard, and that experience is leading him to focus on biomedical science and health studies at Marquette University this fall.
He received an academic and leadership scholarship from the university.
Leadership is where Brewer shines. He’s been a member of the Ronald McDonald House Teen board for two years, and student body vice president at Prep.
“Scouting taught me leadership skills,” he said. “I learned good leaders lead by example.”
His Eagle Scout project involved the creation of a garden shed at River’s Wish Animal Sanctuary.
“They had a garden site to offset the cost of purchasing food for the animals, but I noticed their tools were getting rusty because they didn’t have a place to put them,” Brewer said.
He leveled the area, re-routed water lines and installed a pre-made 10- by-12-foot shed.
Attending the 2017 National Boy Scout Jamboree in West Virginia is a memory he treasures, but a small Boy Scout slogan has become his mantra.
“Do a good turn daily,” Brewer said. “Those words have always stuck with me. If you can do one small thing a day to help others, it can create a chain reaction that would make the world a better place.”
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