A Family Tradition

A Fort Zumwalt West student earns the rare distinction of becoming a third-generation Eagle Scout

By Brett Auten

With his recent achievement, a Fort Zumwalt West sophomore made it back-to-back-to-back for his family.

Nicholas Short of O’Fallon became the third generation in his family to have earned the highest ranking in the Boy Scouts of America, becoming an Eagle Scout. Nicholas accomplished the rank just after his 15th birthday in April.

Short received the honor at a formal ceremony on Aug. 25 at Our Savior Lutheran Church located in St. Charles during a Troop 975 ceremony. In attendance was St. Charles Mayor Sally Faith. Short received an invitation from O’Fallon mayor Bill Hennessy to an upcoming city council meeting to congratulate and present him with a proclamation from the mayor and city council members.

Nicholas earned the rank two years earlier than his dad, Scott Short, and two years earlier than the 2015’s average age of an Eagle Scout. Scott Short received his Eagle in 1982 in Tampa, Florida. Nicholas also followed in the footsteps of his grandfather, Ronald Short, who achieved this rank in 1955 in Moline, Illinois.

“It’s more than a medal or a patch,” Scott Short said. “It shows at a young age the determination and the ability to stay focused. It is a good indicator of a child’s future and his success. I don’t know his future but I know he can achieve being an Eagle Scout and that he can succeed in life.”

Nicholas also out-did his dad in merit badges earned along the way. Nicholas tallied 40, four more than his dad and doubled what is required to achieve the Eagle rank. He also earned 16 more than his grandfather.

“We did not push him into scouting,” Scott Short said. “It wasn’t a mandate. We didn’t push him. It naturally evolved.”

Only six-percent of those who join the Boy Scouts will achieve Eagle Scout and the odds of three consecutive generations earning the highest rank is quite a mathematical problem to figure out.

A requirement of the Eagle rank is to perform an Eagle Scout Service Project, which provided Nicholas the opportunity to demonstrate leadership of others, while performing a project for the benefit of his community.

Nicholas’s project was constructing and installing two spectator benches in the area of the Track& Field for Lutheran High School. He saw the need when watching the elderly, the handicapped, and expecting mothers not having a place to sit while watching family and friends compete in the discus or shot put.

“I remember I was in the fifth grade and all the mom’s and dad’s had to sit on the grass and on a steep incline to watch,” Nicholas said. “It was around February 2014 when I built the benches. I just simply wanted to give the people some place to sit.”

As a youngster, Nicholas joined the Cub Scouts and progressed through ranks and eventually he earned the Webelos badge with many pins, followed by the highest rank in Cub Scouting, the Arrow of Light. This rank prepares a Webelos Scout to become a Boy Scout.

“During Cub Scouts, I was just looking for something to do that was fun,” Nicholas said. “When I progressed into the Boy Scouts that is when I became more aware of my family’s history in scouting and when I found out I could be a third-generation Eagle Scout, that motivated me.”

As a Boy Scout, he has hiked many miles and spent numerous nights camping. Nicholas has achieved the BSA Triple Crown of National High Adventure by attending the Summit, Sea Base and Philmont.  Beyond attending various summer camps, jamborees, and special outings, he has also attended and staffed the National Youth Leadership Training (NYLT) which is the current incarnation of youth leadership development training offered by the BSA. He also attended STEM summer camp programs.

His father believes that the scouting program has presented Nicholas a path to his desired profession, aviation. Soon he plans to apply to universities that offer a professional commercial pilot degree. In working to earn BSA Aviation Merit Badge, Nicholas had the opportunity to fly in a 1946 Taylorcraft as part of the EAA Young Eagle Program offered by EAA Chapter 32 in St. Charles.

Nicholas, who also competes in soccer and track in high school, shuns the tired label that Boy Scouts are perceived as “not cool.”

“The stuff we do is crazy,” he said. “We’ve spent weekends out on an island all by ourselves surviving with very little food. All of these adventures I have taken are the best experiences of my life.”

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