Bryce Van de Castle was awarded his Eagle Scout rank at a Court of Honor held March 28 at Crozet United Methodist Church, which hosts Boy Scout Troop 79.
Scoutmaster Gary Conley made the presentation before a large crowd of Scouts and family members.
Virginia Delegate Steve Landes of Verona, who represents Crozet, was on hand to make congratulatory remarks, as was White Hall District Supervisor Ann Mallek. Landes presented Van de Castle with a Virginia state flag that had been flown over the state capitol in his honor. Mallek read a message of congratulations from the citizens of western Albemarle.
Stonewall Jackson Area Council CEO James Milham was also present. Eagle Scouts in the audience were asked to stand and nine rose. Only five percent of Boy Scouts achieve Eagle rank.
Bryce, the son of Drake and Teresa Van de Castle of Crozet, entered scouting as a Cub Scout in 2008 while at Crozet Elementary School. His mom was his den mother. He finished his requirements for Eagle rank in February, two months before his 18th birthday. His Eagle project was a playhouse for kids at Kingswood Preschool (which operates out of the church) to play in and it is now installed on the playground in the rear of the church.
In remarks by his leaders reviewing his career, Van de Castle had to take some ribbing about learning to swim well enough to pass the Eagle standard—“he did an impression of an anchor,” said assistant scoutmaster Mark Adams–and memories of a camping trip to Ramsey’s Draft in Augusta County, where fish guts ended up in some Scout’s tents. The case is mysterious, but apparently linked to Van de Castle’s first success as a fisherman.
But there were also highlights, such as his 79-mile trek at Philmont Scout Ranch, the Boy Scouts’ national adventure base in New Mexico, a service trip to Honduras through his church, and his volunteer efforts on housing projects in West Virginia and North Carolina. His next goal is training to be an Emergency Medical Technician, Adams noted, and he already has a “bug-out bag” ready at his home in case of emergency.
Assistant scoutmaster Hu Shaffer called the playhouse a “a beautiful job. This is professional-quality work.” Van de Castle had to raise the $765 needed for materials (he actually built it for slightly less), and then, joined by volunteer help, he devoted about 220 hours to construction. The playhouse does not contain any pressure-treated wood and because its size prevents a grown person from working from the interior, it was “pre-fabbed” and the sections bolted together once they were inside the playground fence.
Van de Castle had to answer questions about what he had learned about leadership—cultivation of leadership ability is a goal of the rank—and he produced a 56-page report on the subject. “Another beautiful job,” said Shaffer.
“I took responsibility for all my mistakes,” Van de Castle said, “and I forgave all the mistakes by my helpers. I learned you need to make sacrifices and roll with the punches.”
The rank demands a slew of merit badges to achieve its other goals of demonstrating outdoor skills and exemplifying service. Some of the badges are mandatory.
“Bryce has met these requirements with distinction,” said Conley, “and he has never backed down from challenge.”
Van de Castle’s mother pined his Eagle badge on him and he in turn placed pins on his mother’s and father’s lapels. He was presented with a binder containing congratulatory letters from the state’s political leaders, including the governor and senators, and national scout leaders.
Scout leader Scott Lang, himself an Eagle, spoke on Scout honor, explaining the symbolism of the Eagle badge. Van de Castle was reminded that he is expected to stand up for what’s right, to be loyal to his family and community, to do a “good turn” daily, and to protect the weak. “Wear your award with humility,” said Lang. “I challenge you to enter the Eagle brotherhood and continue it with honor and sacrifice.”
The nine other Eagle Scouts present reaffirmed their Eagle Promise as Van de Castle made his. His life is to be an example to his community. “Carry a torch,” said Lang.