Bedford Boy Scout achieves top rank of Eagle Scout
By SIMON RIOS
Union Leader Correspondent
BEDFORD — Not many Boy Scouts achieve the honor of being an Eagle Scout. When Chase Hughes traveled to San Ramon, Costa Rica, to deliver hygiene kits to a Mormon mission there, he was on his way to achieving that lifelong goal.
“I want to be remembered as a hard worker and a good student and citizen,” said Hughes, 15, who will celebrate his new rank at the the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Manchester on Sunday.
Hughes, who will enter Trinity High School as a freshman this fall, said his favorite part of being a Scout was learning preparedness, wilderness survival and first aid.
A member of Bedford Boy Scout Troop 388, Hughes earned 38 merit badges — though just 21 are required — in addition to his service project. An Eagle Scout must pass through the six ranks and serve six months in a troop leadership position before being approved by the Eagle Scout review board.
Hughes plans to attend the Boy Scout National Jamboree in West Virginia next year, and aspires to advance to senior patrol leader. “I will continue to earn merit badges because they teach you life skills and help you become fluent in many areas of life,” he wrote in an email.
Humanitarian work will be central to Hughes’ future, he said. In 2000, the Hughes family started Color My World, a Bedford nonprofit organization centered around helping young people get involved in service work. He plans to remain active with the group, and encourage his friends to do the same.
“The pinnacle of Scouting for me is not really being an Eagle Scout, but what you do with your life after as a result of the program,” he said. In addition, he wants to work in aeronautics.
For Hughes, the hardest experience in Scouting came in the form of the yearly Klondike Derby, a camping trip in the middle of winter in the woods.
“It takes a lot of effort and time,” he said. “You have to be mentally prepared because you are freezing and usually wet. I know now I could probably really survive in an emergency situation.”
Hughes’ Eagle Scout project consisted of collecting and packing 150 hygiene kits, which he delivered to Faithful Servants Mission in Bajo Tejares, San Ramon, Costa Rica. The town is populated by impoverished Nicaraguan immigrants, largely marginalized by Costa Rican society. He worked with various local organizations — from the Bedford Little League to the Bedford Women’s Club to the Mormon church.
In June 2011, he traveled to Costa Rica, where he enjoyed bonding with the children on the basketball court.
With the money left over from his fundraising, Hughes bought sports equipment for the children in Bajo Tejares.
The Eagle Scout is proud to share the designation with such figures as President Gerald Ford, Neil Armstrong, Steven Spielberg and former FBI Director William Sessions — just a few of the more than 2 million Eagle badge recipients since 1912.
“Now, I feel a little more responsibility to give to others and make a difference in the life of someone,” Hughes wrote, offering a bit of wisdom to younger Scouts. “Go on as many campouts as you can and learn all of the advance skills taught to you — most of all have fun.”
According to the Boy Scouts of America, in 2011, 51,473 Scouts earned the rank of Eagle Scout, or about 5 percent of Scouts.
Chase’s father, Brian Hughes, said he’s happy his son finished his Eagle early.
“We are encouraging him now to spend the next several years working on merit badges that will expose him to career opportunities, continue to work with his troop and develop leadership skills by working with younger Scouts.”
Hughes will be recognized in Court of Honor ceremonies on Aug. 19, at 7 p.m. at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Manchester.