Hahnville High student and longtime Boy Scout Mason Waits was acknowledged at the St. Charles Parish Council meeting last week for earning his Eagle Scout award, along with another local Boy Scout member and St. Charles resident, Matthew Zeringue.
The Eagle Scout award is considered the highest award youth members of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) can achieve. Of the roughly one million youth members that pass through the BSA program each year, only 6 percent become Eagle Scouts, according to Scouting Magazine, the official scouting magazine of BSA.
Achieving the Eagle Scout may be a rare occurrence nationally, but for the Waits family six-percenters of Luling – it’s almost a rite of passage. Mason Waits recently became one of five Waits family members from two generations that have now achieved the Eagle Scout level, with one more waiting in the wings.
Mason Waits’ father, local Mitch Waits, 48, is one of the many Waits family members having previously achieved the Eagle Scout level.
Mitch’s slightly older brother and Luling resident Stuart Waits, 52, is also an Eagle Scout, with his older son Zack having earned the Eagle Scout award prior to attending college several years ago. Stuart Waits’ younger son, Hahnville High senior Kyle, recently completed all Eagle Scout requirements and awaits a final review and decision by various BSA council personnel before he is bestowed the honor.
If those weren’t already an impressive number of Waits family Eagle Scouts, the two Waits brothers Stuart and Mitch have an older third brother, Wes Waits, who also earned the Eagle Scout award earlier in his youth.
Both brothers Stuart and Mitch Waits said their late father John Waits was the primary Waits family influence and motivation to first earn the Eagle Scout award. The Waits’ father got heavily involved with his sons, eventually becoming Scout Master leader of their troop in nearby Reserve, where they grew up.
“[My father] believed in the ideals, the leadership and citizenship aspect [of scouting],” Stuart Waits said regarding his early exposure to BSA. “That’s kind of how we got into it and stayed with it.”
Boy Scouts first introduced the brothers to the 12 principles a Boy Scout lives by, considered to be the Scout Law: scouts are trained to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.
“A lot of kids don’t understand what reverent and courteous, and [some of the other Scout Law principles] mean,” Mitch Waits said. “By [scouts] having to go through those scout points, they learn a bit more about them, and I think it helps to build their character.”
As a scout, Mitch Waits said he and his brothers were able to travel all over the local region and even internationally for various scouting camping events.
“I went to Canada twice, and I did a 50-mile canoe trip in Canada,” Mitch Waits said. “One of the most positive things [about scouting] is going camping and having lots of fun.”
After achieving numerous merit badges and related requirements and going through various ranks of the BSA program, the Eagle Scout level is the pinnacle of the entire BSA program. Before being granted the Eagle Scout award, boy scouts must first compete their Eagle Scout Service Project, which is later evaluated by BSA personnel on the project’s benefit to the community organization being served, along with leadership skills required of the scout that completes the project.
“They have to plan it, organize it, and the major thing is for the scout to show leadership, leading a group of others in the execution of their Eagle Scout project,” Stuart Waits said.
Mason Waits completed his Eagle Scout Service Project by designing and building a fire pit area and gathering space for a local area church, a project later evaluated and approved by local BSA authorities.