There is something special about Boy Scout Troop 890.
In the Circle Ten council, a body of Boy Scout troops from Dallas and surrounding counties, Lake Highlands Troop 890 has graduated more Eagle Scouts than any other, 250. That means that since the troop’s inception, 250 young boys have made it through all the ranks of Eagle Scout, completed their leadership training, proven themselves capable at a young age of being responsible for hundreds of younger Scouts, and all by their tender teenage years.
Except there is nothing tender about being an Eagle Scout. The honor signifies endurance, responsibility and leadership skills of the first order.
At Eagle induction ceremonies, Troop 890 bestows a mint silver dollar in remembrance of one of their own, Grant Milner, who died in 1990. Milner became involved in Troop 890 as a child, and even after going off to college, he still made time to come back and work with Troop 890.
“I think it’s his dedication that we’re recognizing here,” says Brent Anderson, a 32-year-old software engineer who joined Troop 890 in 1980, the same year as Milner.
“Grant was a very, very unique individual,” says James Rackler, an investment manager and the newly appointed scoutmaster for Troop 890. “If we had to hold someone up as a model for younger men, probably Grant would be the role model.”
And creating role models is what Troop 890 is all about.
“Scouting is not about learning to tie a knot,” Rackler says. “It is a leadership program. We do what we do because we found that it worked, and that history and tradition mean a lot to us.”
Within the national Boy Scout organization, the troop, which is sponsored by Lake Highlands United Methodist Church, is well known.
“We have the resources to have our men do some pretty extraordinary things,” Rackler says. “I’m not just talking monetary, but I’m talkin’ about leaders who have good leadership skills.”
A combination of monetary funding and adult participation – the troop has a two boy per one adult ratio, a phenomenal amount of attention and guidance by any standards outside of the family unit – allows the group to plan unique activities that set them apart from other troops. Not many Scouts have gone to Sea Base, the Virgin Islands, canoeing between Canada and the U.S., Alaska even, for their training.
“It’s kind of the icing on the cake for the young men, you know?” Rackler says. “You’ve gotta make this fun, or they won’t come back. If they come back, they’re gonna learn. If they learn, they’re gonna grow.”
From boys to men, the troop’s Eagle Scouts have spent the better part of their adolescence within the strictures of the Scout ethos. Hill has been a member of Troop 890 since he was six years old, when both he and his father (the recently retired scoutmaster) joined.
“Two of the friends who graduated with me were in my den when we were six years old,” Hill says. “They’re the best friends I have.”
“I’ve been in this program for two-thirds of my life. It’s made me who I am now.”