SOUTH PLAINFIELD - South Plainfield High School Sophomore Kyle Griswold was awarded the rank of Eagle Scout, taking his place as the forty-ninth Eagle Scout of Troop 309. A Court of Honor was held at 12p.m. on Saturday, June 1st at Wesley United Methodist Church, located at 1500 Plainfield Avenue, South Plainfield, NJ.
“It’s a great feeling to make Eagle Scout,” said Griswold. “To go all this way on the journey that I’ve been on has been with the people I’ve met, the experiences I’ve had, and the places I’ve been, It’s just been so surreal.”
“I am very proud of my son,” said Heidi Griswold. “He worked really hard for this and the fact that he did it with school and with sports is amazing. He really earned it.”
“I am just really proud of him,” said Brandon Griswold, who is also an Assistant Scoutmaster of Troop 309. “In the beginning, there’s always that push that you have to help your son, but to see how he carried out his Eagle Scout project and do everything on his own, is incredible.”
The ceremony opened as the scouts filed in carrying the American Flag, including Troop 309 Boy Scout Sean Griswold, Kyle Griswold’s younger brother.
“On behalf of Troop 309,” said Jeff Pauls, Troop 309 Scoutmaster. “I would like to welcome you this afternoon to this Eagle Scout Court of Honor. Many scouts set out on the trail to Eagle, but few have the perseverance to follow it to the end. Kyle Griswold is one of those few, and we are here today to honor his great achievement. The wearer of the Eagle award is the epitome of Scouting’s best efforts and beliefs.”
Senior Patrol Leader, Wyatt Gerber, led the Pledge of Allegiance and Boy Scout Oath.
“At this time, we would like to welcome our 49th Eagle Scout, Kyle James Griswold, escorted by his parents, Brandon and Heidi Griswold,” said Pauls.
Pastor Gary Timm opened the service with an invocation. Pauls then highlighted Griswold’s lifetime achievements and journey to Eagle Scout. Moving to South Plainfield in 2010, he joined Cub Scout Pack 207 in third grade. Joining Troop 309 in 2014, Griswold began his quest for Eagle Scout, setting the goal to achieve the rank by the time he was fifteen years old. With diligence and hard work, Griswold attained his goal about six months later than he originally wanted, but a full two years sooner than most scouts. Aside from Boy Scouts, Griswold is an excellent student, volunteers in his church and excels in baseball.
One of the final requirements of Eagle Scout is the Eagle Scout Service Project. Scouts are asked to plan, develop and take the role as leader in a service project to help a religious institution, school or the scout’s community. The Eagle Scout Project Griswold chose was to update the playground for Redeemer Lutheran Church and Little Lambs Preschool in Westfield, NJ. A team of twenty-seven volunteers participated in the project, which took 209 man hours.
Nancy Pauls, Troop 309 Advancement Chair, verified Griswold’s advancement record.
Scouts presented flowers to Griswold’s parents for each rank that Griswold achieved. Pauls recounted dates Griswold had attained his ranks as well as when he achieved the twenty-four merit badges he received while on his way to Eagle Scout. Beginning with the rank of Scout on April 1, 2014, Griswold reached the rank of Tenderfoot on September 22, 2014, Second Class on February 16, 2015, First Class on March 16, 2015, Star on September 28, 2015, Life on May 16, 2016 and Eagle Scout on March 28, 2019. Griswold held several positions of leadership including, Patrol Leader and Assistant Patrol Leader.
“On behalf of Patriot’s Path Council, Boy Scouts of America and with the high hope that you will always represent the finest of character and citizenship, we welcome you to the Eagle Rank and congratulate you, your parents and your troop leaders,” said Pauls.
The 48th Eagle of Troop 309, Ryan Carey, read the Eagle Scout Challenge, which emphasized the obligation of an Eagle Scout to live honorably, live with loyalty, be courageous, cheerful and to be of service. These qualities set an example for others in the troop, for family and friends and in the community.
Letters of commendation were then read. Eagle Scout Max Rohrer, Assistant Scoutmaster of Troop 309, read a letter from the Patriots’ Path Council written by Mark Tallmadge, Council President. Troop 309 member Greg Cassio read a letter from Dennis J. Kohl, Patriots’ Path Council Scout Executive.
After Griswold rose and recited the Scout Oath, special pins were presented within the ceremony to symbolize the status of the achievement.
“Kyle, place this mother’s pin over your mother’s heart in recognition of the love, encouragement, faith and trust in your future,” said Pauls as Griswold pinned the emblem on his mother’s shirt.
“Ryan, in recognition of the wisdom and guidance given to you by your father, you present him with the father’s pin, which he will be proud to wear in your honor,” said Pauls as Griswold placed the pin on his father’s Troop 309 uniform.
Griswold was then asked to present the traditional Mentorship Pin to someone who has made an impact on his trail to Eagle.
“To this mentor’s pin goes to someone I met of the baseball field,” said Griswold. “They’ve been with me for a really long time. They mentored me throughout baseball and throughout my scouting, Max Rohrer.”
Eagle Scout Ron Schroeder and Eagle Scout Ryan Carey then handed down the Troop 309 Badge.
“I have every bit of confidence that Kyle will respond the following way when he is approached by the devil of temptation, the devil of procrastination, when all of the evils of the world come upon him and tell him he can’t do something,” said Schroeder. “When the devil whispers in his ear, the devil will say, ‘You don’t have the strength to withstand the storm.’ Kyle will say, ‘I am Kyle Griswold. I am a doer. I am a changer, an achiever. I am a leader. I am a child of God. I am an Eagle Scout. The courage to face the storm, I am the storm.’ Congratulations, Kyle!”
After all of the Eagle Scouts present were called up to congratulate Griswold, Assistant Scoutmaster Scott Waters approached the podium to introduce the dignitaries and say a few words.
“I know quite a few of you have been to Eagle Scout Court of Honors before, but this one is kind of unique and special,” said Waters. “Most kids make Eagle when they are about eighteen and what you don’t realize is that Kyle made it two years before he turned eighteen and to me, that’s amazing. That takes a lot of dedication, a lot of hard work and a lot of sacrifice.”
Waters then introduced Mayor Mathew Anesh, Councilman Rob Bengivenga Jr., and Councilman Derryck White.
“Making Eagle Scout is rare and it is, but it seems to be magical here in Troop 309,” said Anesh. “To be here more than two years earlier than most is remarkable. When you think about excelling and attaining Eagle Scout, we all know that there isn’t a perfectly straight road to attaining Eagle Scout. Whatever you do in life, I’m sure you’re going to be a leader with many people to lead. With your Eagle Project alone, to be able to lead twenty-seven people, who probably weren’t always as motivated or looking in the same direction, is amazing.”
“…Whereas, as a result of Kyle’s confidence and dedication to excellence, Kyle has brought honor and pride to his family, his community and scouting,” said Anesh reading a proclamation as he commended Griswold on his accomplishments while wishing him continued success in the future.
White then presented Griswold with South Plainfield lapel pin, noting that the pin of South Plainfield represents a strength and recognition, serving as a reminder that the South Plainfield governing body and community stands with him where ever he goes.
“For Kyle to achieve this honor two years earlier than many Eagle Scouts and a lot of that has to do with his family and his course, shows his internal determination, that desire to lead and not follow, that is really the hallmark of what Eagle Scout is about,” said White.
Representing the Flint and Steel Association, Tony Sarao presented Griswold with a certificate.
“I’ve been doing scout training of boys for years,” said Sarao. “I represent the Flint and Steel, an association of men that started back in 1923, who wanted to do something for the boys in town, and they created the Flint and Steel for service to boys.”
Speaking on behalf of Knights of Columbus Council 6203 was Joseph Wilkowski, who presented Griswold with a certificate from the Knights of Columbus Supreme Council.
“On behalf of the Knights of Columbus Council 6203, we congratulate Troop 309’s newest and 49th Eagle Scout and to acknowledge your parents,” said Wilkowski. “We would also like to recognize Scoutmaster Jeff Pauls and his scout leadership for mentoring the young men and boys to reach the pinnacle.”
Elks Lodge 2298 Youth Activities Chair, Bill Seesselberg, presented Griswold with certificate and the American Flag.
“This flag is presented to you because you have demonstrated that your daily practice, the teachings of democracy have been met,” said Bill Seesselberg. “We are proud to call you our fellow citizen because you have worked hard to prove that you believe in the United States as one nation under God with liberty and justice for all. As the red, white and blue colors blend to make a beautiful flag, so the skills you have mastered have blended together to make you an outstanding citizen.”
American Legion Post 243, represented by First Vice Commander Richard Tarn, presented Griswold with a citation and a check for $100.
“Congratulations to Ryan, but also congratulations to the parents because you’ve done an outstanding job as well as he’s done,” said Tarn. “It’s a pleasure to see a young man who contributes so much to the community. On behalf of the American Legion, I’d like to extend our congratulations to you on achieving the highest honor of Eagle Scout, the Boy Scouts of America’s highest rank. You are among the select few who have achieved this award. It is so nice to see young people like yourself take on leadership roles and project like you have done to be enjoyed for many years to come.”
Waters took a moment to comment on his experience over the years with Griswold.
“When I first met Kyle, I was not impressed, that cocky little kid,” said Waters. “It turned out, he was not cocky, he was confident. I’m proud of Kyle because he did it the right way. He did it quicker than most and it’s an amazing achievement. Kyle it’s been a pleasure getting to know you. Good luck in the future!”
Griswold then addressed all who came to the ceremony, thanking everyone individually who helped and supported him along his climb towards Eagle Scout. He recounted his challenges in striving for success in life even though the odds seemed against him and how believing in himself and having the strength of a solid support system, helped him achieve his goals.
“As I close, I will leave you with these two things,” said Griswold. “Number one, do not underestimate scouting. If you know anyone that may be interested in Boy Scouts or are of the age of being a scout, let them be a scout, because being a scout has been one of, if not, the greatest experiences of my life. And secondly, when people tell you ‘no,’ that you can’t do something that you aspire to be or do, look them back in the eye and tell them ‘no,’ and do what you were meant to do anyway. Thank you.”
As the ceremony came to a close with the benediction prayer by Griswold’s pastor, the celebration continued with cake and desserts. The scouts, scoutmasters and parents of Troop 309 are family, sharing in the experience of watching boys become responsible young adults and often to the rank of Eagle Scout.
“It’s wonderful to see that transition from the little boy to the young man,” said Brandon Griswold. “Our role, as parents, is to just help them recognize the tools that he had and work with him so that he had that self confidence and that ability to go forth. I’m just proud of him and everything that he’s done. Today is his day.”
“My advice to scouts working to become Eagle Scouts is don’t give up,” said Kyle Griswold. “Keep on trying and striving for Eagle. Even when you doubt yourself, just know that the top of the mountain is the best view that you’ll see.”