By Nancy Dashwood
HOWARD LAKE Cool fact: a flock of eagles is known as a convocation.
Even cooler fact: Joe and Bernice Pehl of Howard Lake, have raised a convocation of Eagle Scouts of their own.
Andrew blazed his own trail, but had mentors
Andrew Pehl, a senior at Mayer Lutheran High School and resident of Howard Lake, recently was honored with an Eagle Court of Honor program.
Andrew said he started with the Scouting program when he was a first-grader. Even then, he had his reasons.
“I started Scouting at first because my two older brothers are both Eagle Scouts, and I knew that’s what I wanted to do,” he stated.
Andrew said some of the first things he learned in Scouting included how to be a leader and how to be a friend.
Andrew earned many merit badges along his path to becoming an Eagle Scout, and he does have a few favorites.
“The merit badges that mean the most to me are first aid, because who doesn’t like helping people? he said. I like the geology because I like science, and weather because it was one of my first Boy Scout merit badges,” Andrew said.
Camping plays a big part in a Scout’s career, and Andrew has a favorite and repetitive camp memory.
“Some of my favorite camp memories come from sitting around a campfire being eaten by mosquitoes, then going home and listening to my mom, telling me that I should have used bug spray,” he said. “This happened every year.”
When asked about his strongest mentors, it’s a family first answer.
“My most influentially positive leaders have been my brothers, for their good advice from their own experiences, and my mom for always pushing me to work hard and do my very best,” Andrew said.
To get to the Eagle Scout level, Scouts move up through the ranks: Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, and Life.
Each rank has its own requirements and merit badges. The final and top rank a Scout may achieve is the Eagle rank.
Earning an Eagle rank comes with a requirement of the completion of a meaningful service project.
At first, he thought about building raised garden beds for The Lodge in Howard Lake. That idea didn’t pan out, so he changed his focus slightly.
Andrew discovered that while the residents did have seating outside, it was primarily comprised of adirondack chairs. Those chair seats were low to the ground, and many residents had trouble standing up to get out of them.
Leadership and construction
Andrew decided to solve that problem by designing and constructing comfortable benches for The Lodge’s residents.
He carefully planned the bench-making process, and then led a team of volunteers through their construction.
“We had to get measurements and draw up designs,” Andrew recalled. “After that, we got approval from The Lodge on the designs, so we could get the supplies to build the benches.”
Andrew made the construction of the benches sound almost easy.
“Once we got the supplies for the benches, we just had to get enough people to build them within the time frame of one weekend,” he said. “With enough people helping, we were able to finish three benches in two days.”
Andrew’s benches were easy for residents to use, and even featured attached tables so residents are able to put a book or cup of coffee down while they relax.
Once the benches were installed, Andrew had some happy folks on his hands. “The residents and staffers were very impressed by how sturdy and well-made the benches were,” he said.
Joining the family Eagle convocation
Following his Eagle Court of Honor, Andrew was reflective about how well the Scouting program had served him and his family over the years.
He said his advice to younger Scouts is simple.
“Make sure everyone knows how much time is required,” he said, “and you get out what you put in.”
Andrew’s older brothers, Josh and Jacob, agree with that statement.
Andrew’s eldest brother Josh started Scouting in fourth grade. Josh worked his way through the Scouting ranks, and completed his Eagle project in 2005. Josh made five benches for the Wright County Fair, and put on a theater clinic at the fair since his interests were also in theater.
The next Pehl Scout, Jacob, looked up to his older brother, and to his parents, as well. Both Joe and Bernice had become Scout leaders.
(Bernice said their daughter, Gwen, went to every meeting her brothers did, and “was as much a Scout as a girl could be at the time.”)
Jacob got an early start in Scouting, by joining in first grade. He earned his Eagle rank in 2008. His service project involved clearing up some parking lot confusion.
Jacob measured and painted lines on the parking lot for his church, St. James Lutheran in Howard Lake.
There had never been parking lines on the lot before, and traffic often stalled during busier times. The lines Jacob painted guided drivers into parking spots.
Bernice said it was then easy to fit a parking lot full of cars, no matter what time of year, because people knew exactly where to park.
Earning Eagle has positive lifelong impact
Joe, Bernice, and their boys are all still firm believers in Scouting. They believe the program teaches for a lifetime, and is also a strong signal to others about their strong work ethic and personal values.
“Andrew had always heard from his brothers about what becoming an Eagle has done for them,” Bernice said.
“It helped Josh and Jacob in their careers, because they (potential employers) saw the Eagle Scout on their resumés, so they were highly sought after.”
That’s good news for the most recent Pehl Eagle. Andrew intends to graduate from high school and then attend college for a computer science degree.”
Andrew joined the Eagle rank with his brothers, and said he is glad he did.
“Scouting is absolutely worth all of the time put in; it will make you a better person,” he said. “I recommend it to every boy in America, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”