Crozet Boy Scout Troop 79 has produced seven Eagle Scouts so far this year and two more are coming. Jonathan Bowman had his Court of Honor July 1 at Crozet United Methodist Church and received scouting’s top rank. Only five percent of scouts reach it. Three days later he left for Marine Corps basic training at Parris Island in South Carolina.
Bowman joined the troop in 2009 and advanced steadily up the ranks, but only had six weeks of eligibility left when he set out to accomplish his Eagle Scout project, which was the replacement of four decaying picnic tables at Lebanon Presbyterian Church in Greenwood.
Scoutmaster Gary Conley noted that in reviewing photos of Bowman’s years in the troop, which are typically scenes from camping trips, he found that “They always show Jonathan doing something. He’s been a good example and we’re proud to have him in our troop.”
Assistant scoutmaster Mark Adams praised Bowman, nicknamed “Stack,” as “long-suffering and amazingly strong, fast and agile. He’s a force to be reckoned with with the wrestling moves he’s learned.” Adams also noted Bowman’s penchant for peeling off his shirt and willingness to be cold or wet in order to keep his shirt dry and available in reserve. Adams reminded the other scouts on hand of the occasion when Bowman’s canoe capsized in the Rock Garden rapids section of the James River. It’s a dangerous passage, but all turned out well.
Seven other Eagle Scouts stood and repeated the Eagle Scout Oath when Bowman recited it and next received his pin from his mother Elizabeth and his blue Eagle handkerchief from his father Jeff. He in turn gave them Eagle pins in recognition of their help in motivating and supporting him to meet the challenging requirements of the rank.
“A lot of boys don’t have what it takes to move forward,” said Conley, “the drive, and you have to face the Eagle project. The Eagle Award is earned, not granted. But it’s not earned just by you, but by your parents and other scouts who help you as well.”
Dad Jeff Bowman called his mother Hulga forward from the audience when he received his Eagle pin from his son. She had a felt ribbon holding the rank pins her two boys had earned in their days in scouting. Each had achieved Life rank, the one below Eagle. Jeff added his pin from Jonathan to her ribbon. Her green sash was crowned. It was a tribute from her men, and she felt honor in it.
Assistant scoutmaster Hu Shaffer noted all the letters of commendation Bowman had received from state and national political leaders, from NASA, including a letter from the White House.
His Marine Corps recruiter Staff Sargent Brian Brenemann praised the character traits Bowman demonstrated in achieving the rank. “We recognize the brotherhood and fellowship and networking of the Boy Scouts,” he said. “This is a great step and the Marine Corps recognizes you, too.”
When he was given the floor Bowman said, “I want to thank everyone who helped me. These have been the best years of my life.” Turning to the row where his fellow scouts sat, he said, “You guys are my brotherhood. It means a lot to me.”
Bowman earned 24 merit badges. The rank requires 21 and 11 of those are mandated. He said his favorite was Orienteering, which he also enjoyed teaching to younger scouts, and his least favorite was Winter Survival because the conditions in which you have to camp are so severe.
Bowman, the youngest of five and the only boy, said he’d been thinking about joining the Marines out of high school for a couple of years. “I need a ‘gap year’. I don’t know what I would do in college and I can’t afford to pay for it. A friend of mine had gone through basic training and… I ship out Monday.”