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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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The Full Suburban: Becoming an Eagle Scout is a marathon of accomplishments

Cousins Owen Rich, third from left, and George Ditto, center, stand with other Eagle Scouts in their extended family at their recent Court of Honor.  (Courtesy of Julia Ditto)
Cousins Owen Rich, third from left, and George Ditto, center, stand with other Eagle Scouts in their extended family at their recent Court of Honor. (Courtesy of Julia Ditto)
By Julia Ditto For The Spokesman-Review

I ran a marathon last Saturday. Not an actual marathon, mind you. It was more of a day-that-never-ends kind of marathon. In the morning, Logan and I, along with some brothers- and sisters-in-law, drove to a campground in Idaho to help my parents pack up the site where they had been camping for four days with 15 of their grandchildren.

Yes, this is a thing they do every year, aptly titled “Grandma and Papa Camp,” and it is utterly amazing for all involved. The kids love these days with their grandparents, who live by the motto, “What happens at Grandma and Papa Camp stays at Grandma and Papa Camp.”

By the time we arrived at the campsite to help with cleanup and takedown, the kids all looked like they had been living in the forest with a pack of wolves for a month. We clasped their sticky little hands as they happily showed us all the crafts they had made and the various places they had thrown up after eating too much candy. Needless to say, it was a whirlwind morning.

We worked like crazy for a couple hours taking down camp, and then we headed back home, where we helped the grandparents unload and clean everything and also started the first of about 500 loads of laundry.

Already exhausted, we could have settled in for a long summer’s nap right then, but no! Instead of taking it easy the rest of the day, I had wisely planned that, since we had family in town anyway, that very day would be ideal to hold the Eagle Court of Honor for our oldest son, George, and his cousin (and fellow Grandma Camper) Owen.

Owen’s mom (my stepsister, Holly) had joined me on this path to insanity weeks earlier when we naively decided that this would be a good idea. A month before the Court of Honor, we met to discuss logistics, which included the following:

Where we should hold the ceremony (in my backyard in full sun, of course); who would emcee the event (our friend and the boys’ former Scoutmaster, Dan); and how we could obtain 75 red, white and blue cupcakes arranged in the shape of an American flag without having to make them ourselves (enlist the help of my niece, and professional baker, Laynie).

With those details decided, it was time to get down to the nitty-gritty details. And holy cow, there were a lot of nitty-gritty details. An Eagle Court of Honor is a major, epic affair. There are uniforms and flags and visiting dignitaries and printed programs and salutes and pledges to do important things for the remainder of your days.

It’s not something to be taken lightly, nor should it be; the accomplishment of earning an Eagle is seriously a big deal. If you’re not familiar with what is required of one who is trying to attain the rank of Eagle Scout, go ahead and look it up on the Internet.

You’ll be amazed that anyone can meet such stringent requirements, let alone a teenage boy who would much rather try to catch ping pong balls in his mouth that his friends have thrown across the room. My smile was absolutely from ear to ear as I watched George throughout the ceremony. Is it possible to burst with pride? It sounds messy, but that’s exactly what I was feeling the whole time.

George and Owen are outstanding young men to an astonishing degree. I’ve known Owen his whole life, and I have never seen him act grumpy or say an unkind word. George is similarly a breath of fun, good-natured air anywhere he goes. They both know how to work hard and play hard, and to me, they personify exactly what an Eagle Scout should be.

It may have been a marathon day, but it was nothing compared to the work those boys put in to get there. And any time I felt tired, I just headed over to the dessert table. You’d be surprised at how much energy you can get from eating the entire blue portion of a giant American flag cupcake display.

Julia Ditto shares her life with her husband, six children and a random menagerie of farm animals in Spokane Valley. She can be reached at dittojulia@gmail.com.

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