An eagle is a rare creature, known to be bold and fearless. In the world of scouting, the eagle stands for strength of character and knowledge for all phases of scouting, representing an understanding and deep respect for the community and nation. Recently, Claire Capdevielle, South Bend, achieved the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest honor for youth members of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA).
“I joined my troop (Troop 3105, Lasalle Council) when I was 16,” noted Capdevielle. “I had been trying to find options to get into scouting since I was very little, long before girls were accepted into the BSA program. I tried out some other types of scouting, but it never quite fulfilled my dream of becoming proficient in outdoor skills and participating in great adventures like my older brothers.”
Becoming an Eagle Scout requires deep commitment, extensive work, and a completion of a total of 325 requirements.
“First, you must earn the ranks of Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, and Life. To do this, you complete various requirements including outdoor survival skills, first aid, camping trips, cooking, fitness, and service. You also learn about citizenship and good communication. For the last three ranks, you also have to hold a position of leadership in your troop and earn merit badges. There are hundreds of merit badges covering pretty much every topic from computer science to aviation, but there are 14 required ones for Eagle. This includes physical activity-based badges like swimming and climbing, and community-focused ones like citizenship in the nation, society, and world. Additionally, you must complete a service project. The Eagle candidate plans and leads a team to complete a project benefiting the community in some way. There is a lot of creative freedom allowed in what kind of project is done,” shared Capdevielle.
Her family, specifically her older brothers who were also scouts, gave her the drive to tackle the rank of Eagle Scout.
“They both earned the rank of Life scout, the one right below Eagle,” said Capdevielle, noting she always looked up to her brothers. “When I joined scouting, I knew I had only two years, and I wanted to pack in as many experiences as possible into that time. The road to Eagle Scout definitely helped me have more adventures than I would have without aiming for this goal. Without the possibility of Eagle driving me, I might have said no to experiences that changed my life.”
She did various projects during her quest including service hours at Our Lady of the Road in South Bend serving breakfast. It is a place where anyone can take showers, do laundry, have breakfast, rest, and enjoy conversation with guests.
“It’s always great to get to sit down with the guests and talk to them after the serving is done. It can be easy to forget about these members of our community, but this experience always helps me to feel connected to those who are struggling, and feeling connected inspires me to want to do more for them,” said Capdevielle.
Her Eagle Scout project was planting a row of bushes in front of the Our Lady of the Road center to serve as a green fence. Capdevielle’s most memorable moment of the project was seeing it when it was complete.
“It was November and very cold. My dad and I were finishing off the project by ourselves. We had an awesome work crew for our first day, but we decided to add mulch for the bushes, which meant a second day of work. I remember kneeling in the cold spreading the mulch around the newly planted bushes with my hands. It was hard work, but it was incredibly rewarding to step back and look at my work,” recalled Capdevielle.
Capdevielle said scouting has impacted most areas of her life.
“I’ve formed new bonds with people I would never have met, in my troop and community, and at the two scout camps I attended and staffed. I’ve become closer to my family, especially my parents who were with me every step of the trail to Eagle. I’ve been tested physically, have led even when I felt no more experienced than the people I had to lead, and have learned and grown so much over the past few years,” said Capdevielle. “I think I will be much more confident as I take on the next challenges life brings because of this experience.”
Capdevielle will continue her life in scouting by staying with her troop as an adult leader, hopefully going on a caving trip this fall. She also plans on working as staff for Camp Tamarack and Trail to Eagle. Professionally, she strives to become a film director and possibly an actor.
“I will be studying film at the University of Notre Dame this fall. I hope I can one day make films for young people that can spread a message of hope. It’s important to reflect on the reality of the problems in the world, but I want to tell stories that emphasize the ways we can overcome those problems. I think we need more heroes who understand honor, integrity, and dignity. I’d like to bring those heroes to the world through film,” said Capdevielle.
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