Sam the Eagle

When we moved to Australia four years ago we didn't know if Sam would be able to finish the U.S. boy scout program--because (of course) they don't do it here as part of the youth program at church like they do in the states--but luckily there was a brand new BSA troop being formed in Canberra led by a group of outstanding, make-it-happen parents.  Sam jumped right in and it has been, I daresay, an even more crucial part of his life here than it was in Boston. The numbers have fluctuated as American families moved in and out of Canberra but they've kept up an ambitious schedule of adventures and learned to support and lead each other, this fairly ragtag (but in the best way) group of boys between 11-18. 

They meet each week at the embassy. Unlike most American families here, we're not affiliated with the embassy but when Ambassador Berrey heard that Sam was working on his Eagle he personally reached out to encourage him over the last year and offered to host the ceremony if he finished. Every time he saw Sam he would not only remember his name but also check up on how he was doing and tease him about being all set to host the party. It was not the only thing that kept Sam trudging toward finishing his Eagle rank but it was a gracious nudge and reminder that he had a lot of people cheering for him.  

The ceremony gave us a chance to thank many people who have helped Sam along the way here: the headmaster and housemaster at his school, his friends, church leaders, and the scouts and their families. Because security is tight at the Ambassador's residence, we weren't able to bring a camera but one of the scout families who has ties to the embassy had clearance so we are grateful to Lynnea for these photos:

 The invitations sent by the protocol office: we had no idea it would be so fancy shmancy!

The invitations sent by the protocol office: we had no idea it would be so fancy shmancy!

 All the pins. And Sam already has a chance to pay it forward as an Assistant Scoutmaster for the next few months

All the pins. And Sam already has a chance to pay it forward as an Assistant Scoutmaster for the next few months

 Taking the oath

Taking the oath

 Such a great dad. Greg's spent countless hours doing scouts with Sam, serving in some capacity for pretty much the whole 7 years.

Such a great dad. Greg's spent countless hours doing scouts with Sam, serving in some capacity for pretty much the whole 7 years.

 Sam's scoutmaster, the Ambassador, and Sam all gave talks. 

Sam's scoutmaster, the Ambassador, and Sam all gave talks. 

 Friends from school (in case you're wondering, Ben's striped blazer means he's a sports team captain)

Friends from school (in case you're wondering, Ben's striped blazer means he's a sports team captain)

 Headmaster Garrick (left; think Dumbledore equivalent) and Mr. Cameron, Sam's housemaster (middle; think...McGonagall?) 

Headmaster Garrick (left; think Dumbledore equivalent) and Mr. Cameron, Sam's housemaster (middle; think...McGonagall?) 

 It was such a happy day and it worked out perfectly that Maddy was there for her visit at the time. We missed Lauren and Patrick, though!

It was such a happy day and it worked out perfectly that Maddy was there for her visit at the time. We missed Lauren and Patrick, though!

 (from left) the 4 Waddoupi, Ambassador Berrey, his partner Curtis, scoutmaster Chris Odell.

(from left) the 4 Waddoupi, Ambassador Berrey, his partner Curtis, scoutmaster Chris Odell.

Just for fun, let's take a quick glimpse at what that boy looked like back when he started on the path to Eagle back in 2009 and a few since then:

He's been so enriched and blessed by the incredible mentors who have contributed SO MUCH time and energy to help the scouts learn and grow. So grateful. Forward, march...