Colwell endures challenges, earns Eagle Scout rank


Photo courtesy Matthew Cowell

Junior Matthew Cowell has accumulated 400 hours of community service and earned multiple merit badges as an Eagle Scout.

Anne Hampton and Raven Spano

Junior Matthew Colwell passed six ranks, participated in over 400 hours of community service, earned numerous merit badges, and worked through rain and snow to complete his Eagle project and earn the Eagle Scout rank as a Boy Scout.

An Eagle Scout is the highest rank an American Boy Scout can reach. To earn the Eagle rank, candidates must earn 21 merit badges and complete a service project.

Merit badges are “little snippets of societal goals,” he said. “It is community based.” Some examples are wilderness survival, kayaking, and cooking. Merit badges aim to develop Scouts as people and teach them important life skills. 

For his project, Colwell built a pergola for the troops’ meeting place, North Zion Lutheran. A pergola is a shade harbor; Colwell built it to act as a source of protection from the elements. Along the way, he said there were many challenges. 

“We got rained out and snowed out while cutting down trees and installing concrete,” Colwell said.

With the help of his scout leader, his family, and his fellow troop members, the pergola was finally finished last June. Eight months later, he was officially presented his Eagle Scout medal at a court of honor ceremony on April 23. Less than 5% of scouts reach this rank. 

Scoutmaster David Neuhaus said Colwell has always put in a full effort in scouting. 

“When Matt was elected as senior patrol leader, the highest youth leadership position in a scout troop, he wanted to make the scout troop better than it was,” Neuhaus said. 

Colwell has been a leader with the troop for more than two years. In that time, Neuhaus said Colwell has had a huge impact on his troop and the program. 

“He created and implemented a yearlong program plan, insisted that other youth leaders be accountable for their duties, and wanted more activities that the scouts could do,” he said. 

Neuhaus said Colwell is the reason his troop has started going on more weeklong trips, troop bonding day activities, and camping trips. Colwell’s leadership abilities and friendly demeanor have always helped defuse stressful situations, he said. 

“His vision has helped Troop 338 have a more robust scouting program, which has helped his troop grow in membership. He has also set a standard to the other scouts to try to achieve and to be better leaders and people,” Neuhaus said. 

Junior Ryan Shaneman has been a scout with Colwell for about seven years. He said Colwell is always using his skills to help others.

“We once went on a 17-mile hike, Matt was able to help the younger scouts,” he said.

Colwell started Boy Scouts in fifth grade because he enjoyed Cub Scouts and spending time outdoors. But as he got older, he realized how significant it would be as a part of his life. 

Balancing his priorities became a challenge, however. Colwell participates in the band and video productions club. 

 “I definitely struggled with timing (Boy Scouts) with band,” he said. 

After high school, Colwell plans to go to college and eventually become a graphic designer. He believes that his experience as a Boy Scout and now an Eagle Scout will help him in the future. 

“It definitely shows leadership, adaptation, and overcoming challenges,” he said. “It even helps with social skills.”