Caleb Hoffman received his Eagle Scout rank Nov. 7 in a ceremony at Crozet United Methodist Church, the home of Boy Scout Troop 79. Scoutmaster Gary Conley conferred the honor, the elite zenith of scouting that few achieve.
Hoffman entered scouting as an 11-year-old, joining Cub Scout Pack 107, and rose rapidly, earning his First Class rank in 18 months, Conley said. He achieved Eagle rank a year and half before his 18th birthday, which is the age cutoff for reaching the rank. Typically boys do not achieve the rank with that much time to spare.
Scout leader Hubert Shaffer described Hoffman’s Eagle project, completing a storage building for the church (which he is not a member of). “Every scout is expected to do a good turn daily,” said Shaffer. “By the time you reach Life Scout, you’re expected to do more. Crozet United Methodist Church was the beneficiary of his project. Everything began after the shell of a utility building was brought to the church, unpainted. Caleb did an interior and exterior design for the building and painted it in two tones to correlate with the playground equipment. It took a very steady hand. He built a ramp with a slip-resistant surface to get lawn equipment in. He divided the shed into two rooms and built a workbench and storage shelves. It took 106 hours, involved 12 individuals and cost $1,000, not including donated materials.”
“Eagle Scout has special significance,” said Conley. “It’s a performance-based achievement with standards that are very high. Only four to five percent of scouts earn Eagle.”
Scout leader Mark Adams said to Hoffman, “Your conduct along the trail has been excellent. You’ve become an example to your community. I challenge you to enter the Eagle brotherhood and to uphold the tradition of honor and service.”
Eagle Scouts in the audience were asked to stand, and eight men and teens rose. Hoffman’s father Eddie, an assistant scoutmaster with the troop, put an Eagle neckerchief on him and his mother Ginger pinned on his Eagle badge.
Delegate Steve Landes presented Hoffman with a commendation awarded in his honor by the Virginia General Assembly. Landes mentioned that his brother had reached Eagle, but he did not. “I was jealous,” he admitted. “Eagle Scouts accomplish a lot in our country.” Landes also gave Hoffman a Virginia flag that had been flown for Hoffman’s sake above the capitol in Richmond.
Scott Lancey awarded Hoffman the Council Heroism Award. He said that in the last five years, the Stonewall Jackson Area Council, which encompasses 13 Virginia and West Virginia counties and has 5,000 active scouts, has given the award only four times.
Hoffman then told the story of a 2013 hunting trip in which a tree stand broke and left his father dangling backwards. “I ran to where he was. He yelled at me to cut him loose. I knew that wouldn’t be right. I put my tree stand under him and we made a circular ladder and got him down.”
The Council added a Certificate of Merit, too, saying that Hoffman had “demonstrated the best traditions of scouting.”
Shaffer also presented Hoffman with a binder full of letters of congratulations from state political leaders and a wallet card identifying him as an Eagle Scout. Congressman Robert Hurt sent Hoffman a U.S. flag that had flown over the national Capitol.
“I would like to say thank you to my scout leaders,” said Hoffman, “especially to Mr. Conley. You deserve a medal. And I’d like to thank my parents, and Rick and Jim Hegedorn for helping me with my project.” Rick Hegedorn had also been present at the time of his father’s accident.
By virtue of rank, Hoffman, a junior at Western Albemarle High School, is now a senior leader, helping the troop’s eight Life Scouts who are still working to achieve Eagle.