ISLAND FALLS, Maine — For the second time this year, a member of Troop 202 has attained the highest rank possible in the Boy Scouts of America — Eagle Scout.
Ben Boutilier was lauded on Feb. 10 at the Big Valley Sno Club with a dinner celebration attended by more than 80 family, friends and community members.
Considering that only 2 percent of all Scouts attain the rank of Eagle Scout, it’s impressive that the 18-year-old Boutilier is the second member of Troop 202 to receive his pin this year. Richard Kimball Jr., who was honored in January, was on hand with his family for Boutilier’s ceremony.
“You have to have a good program for the kids to get them to stick with it,” Troop 202 Scoutmaster Jeff Brooks said. “You have to have something for them to do and you have to enjoy it as much as the kids do.”
The son of Everett Jr. and Sandy Boutilier of Merrill, Ben Boutilier has been in Scouting for as long as he can remember. Boutilier said he followed his brother Evan into Scouting starting at age 5. Boutilier’s father has served as Cubmaster and helped guide him through Scouting.
“Evan didn’t stick with Scouting, but I wanted to,” Ben Boutilier said.
“He has a lot of years in Scouting,” said Boutilier’s father, Everett. “I couldn’t be more proud of him. We had a really nice turnout tonight.”
“He’s a great kid,” added Brooks. “I’ve had him in Scouts since he was 11 years old. It’s a very distinguished award and I am very proud of him.”
Boutilier flew out of Maine on Feb. 22 to begin the Army National Guard’s basic training to become a military policeman. By earning his rank of Eagle Scout, Boutilier has a leg up on his fellow cadets as he has already earned the rank of E2 for the military. It normally takes about a year to attain this level, and he already will be one pay scale higher than his fellow recruits.
Travis Smith, who just returned from basic training, was the guest speaker for the evening. Smith and Boutilier attended Southern Aroostook Community School and played baseball together for the Warriors.
“Our intentions were to join [the military] together and go [to basic training] together, but a shoulder injury prevented Ben from enlisting,” Smith said. “Needless to say, Ben showed his dedication and overcame his injury. I recall the moment he called me in basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. It was one of the best phone calls I received while in basic training. I was really proud of him.”
For his Eagle Scout service project, Boutilier built six picnic tables for the communities of Island Falls, Oakfield, Merrill, Patten and Sherman, as well as for the Bethel Pentecostal Church in Oakfield. Boutilier said he chose picnic tables after talking to town officials and asking them what each could use for the community. His father and other troop members assisted in the construction.
Horten Lumber in Houlton donated material for the tables.
Merrill Town Manager Candy Nevers read several letters of congratulations, including one from Gov. Paul LePage. In his letter, the governor said, “It is exciting for me to see a young man who has accomplished so much in his life already.”
LePage’s letter also shared 10 two-letter words he recalled from his childhood, which helped him through tough times.
“If it is to be, it is up to me,” Nevers read. “You will encounter adversarial circumstances in life, but just remember if you put your mind to it, you can overcome anything.”
U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe also sent letters of congratulation.
The town of Merrill’s Board of Selectmen and Nevers also drafted a letter of recognition for the evening.
“Becoming an Eagle Scout takes a lifetime of dedication and decisions to do the right thing,” Nevers read. “I congratulate Benjamin’s parents for a job well-done in raising such a fine young man.”