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Kingston teen completes trail project, earns Eagle Scout badge

Sam Shoemaker, 17, stands in front of the hardest part of the trail — making the stairs.  - Kelly Joines/Staff photo
Sam Shoemaker, 17, stands in front of the hardest part of the trail — making the stairs.
— image credit: Kelly Joines/Staff photo

KINGSTON — Sam Shoemaker is following in some pretty hefty footprints. Some of which were made in moon sand.

On the surface it might not look like the 17-year-old from Kingston has anything in common with Neil Armstrong, the first man to step onto the moon, or academy award winning film director Steven Spielberg, for that matter. But they do. They are all Eagle Scouts.

Eagle Scout — the highest ranking in Boy Scouts — is the coveted rank few attain. It is so highly recognized by NASA and the United States military that men who graduate out of boot camp after obtaining an Eagle Scout badge are automatically granted one pay-grade higher than other graduates. According to the Boy Scouts of America Web site, www.scouting.org, less than 5 percent of all Boy Scouts ever make it to Eagle.

However, for those who know Shoemaker — and are familiar with his ability, dedication and academic achievement — knew he was a shoe-in to make the cut.

“With Sam I saw it coming for a while. For me it’s been an expectation,” said Jeffrey Boyce, leader of Shoemaker’s Boy Scout troop 555, better known as The Triple Nickel. “He’s one of the natural leaders. I can’t say that for all the boys, but for Sam for the last three or four years I knew it was coming.”

To attain the rank of Eagle Scout, Shoemaker fulfilled requirements in leadership, service and outdoor skills, working his way up through and passing tests set before him in six ranks.

“It’s a challenge,” Shoemaker said of Boy Scouts. “I feel I need more of a responsibility in my life.”

Shoemaker, a senior at Kingston High School, carries a full load of four advanced placement and honors courses, is the third-seeded singles tennis player on the varsity tennis team and doubles as a pole vaulter and sprinter on the track team in the spring.

For his community service project, the last requirement to obtain the Eagle ranking, he chose to complete Kingston’s East 4th Street Trail, located up Ohio Street at Princeton Point, just north of the downtown core.

“It’s kind of difficult when you’re such a young age to take responsibility for such a big project; but that’s part of being an Eagle Scout,” Shoemaker said.

About one-quarter of a mile, the trail connects numerous apartment complexes with Ohio Avenue and a trail to the beach. It’s the first trail project Kingston’s Open Space and Trails committee (a sub-committee of Kingston Citizens Advisory Council) has slated for a larger Kingston trail system.

Bobbie Moore, who serves on the committee, said the permit for the project was in place with the county since 2005.

“It’s really been on the radar for a long time but it was a question of finding either funding so we could hire people to do it or finding youthful people with energy,” Moore said.

“The trails committee people are either retired or aging so it wasn’t practical to do it ourselves. Sam was wonderful, just extremely energetic and has the makings of a very professional young person.”

Most of the effort went to repairing the trail where erosion had gotten the best of it. After nine man hours and help from 12 other Boy Scouts, the trail is complete.

“Actually when we were working on it I saw a lot of people walking on it,” Shoemaker said. “It’s nice because I’m doing good for the community and helping out, which is all part of being in Boy Scouts.”

Shoemaker said he looks forward to studying community mechanical engineering and business at a four-year university.

After, maybe his name will join the ranks of other recognized great Eagle Scouts such as former president Gerald Ford, Bill Gates Sr. who serves as CEO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Academy Award-winning documentarian Michael F. Moore, or Steve Fossett, the first person to circumnavigate the world in a hot air balloon.

Those who know Shoemaker closest may actually come to expect it.

Troop 555 meetings are at the Scout Hall Cabin at Kingston’s Kola Kole Park every Tuesday at 7 p.m. Boys ages 11-18 are welcome.

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