Garrett Steele earns top Eagle Scout badge

POULSBO — Speechless.

That’s what Garrett Steele was when asked about finally receiving his place in the Eagle Scout court of honor after finishing a nearly four-year project to earn the ranking.

But his words didn’t disappear for long.

The 17-year-old Boy Scout Troop No. 1577 member was inducted in a Sept. 15 ceremony that lasted almost two and a half hours, where family, scoutmasters and Poulsbo City Councilwoman Connie Lord gathered to honor his accomplishment. Garrett Steele earned the prestigious status after working for 44 merit badges — though only 21 were needed — and completing a wheelchair ramp addition to Little Norway’s Kvelstad Pavilion. Having started the service project at the age of 13, Garrett Steele said seeing the final fruition of his efforts was an honor long in the making.

“There were definitely times where it was tough. It took a long time but it was definitely a rewarding experience,” he said. “It worked out pretty nice I think.”

The Eagle Scout badge is one familiar to the family name, as Steele’s father and grandfather both belonged to the Boy Scouts, and his mother and grandmother each served as den leaders. Garrett Steele’s brother, Grann Steele, too, is a scout. In order to earn the prestigious Eagle badge, requirements in first aid, emergency preparedness, citizenship and environmental science learning, along with others, are needed, as well as leadership experience and a service project beneficial to the community.

Garrett Steele’s father, Gary Steele, said his son’s persistence and drive in chasing after the Kvelstad Pavilion idea — instead of waiting for one to fall into his lap — has sent him on the path of becoming a leader. Working with city council, the Parks and Recreation and Public Works departments and the Port of Poulsbo were all part of the lengthy task of creating handicap access for the Waterfront Park structure. Garrett Steele said he realized the idea in 2003 while dancing during Viking Fest, when he saw four men lifting an elderly woman in a wheelchair onto the pavilion and out of the rain. The new ramp was completed March 2006.

“That’s part of what the Eagle challenge is, to realize how big of a process it is to get things done, and to coordinate people to help do it,” Gary Steele said. “It’s one of the very first really positive things that you’ll carry with you as an adult.”

The community support and donations, of both monetary and physical labor value, were integral in completing the task, and Garrett Steele said he was thankful, but not surprised, at all who came out to help.

“I’m glad he took on a project for the community,” Gary Steele said. “There was just a lot of encouragement over the small hurdles. People were very supportive.”

Though Garrett Steele already has plans to attend electrician school and continue his apprenticeship at Puget Sound and Light, Gary Steele knows his son will have continued involvement in the Boy Scout organization and in setting a good example for others.

“I’m happy that this benefits the community. It’s something that’ll be there for a long time,” Garrett Steele said. “It feels very rewarding to finally complete it. It was a big honor.”

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