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The Boy Scouts of America often tout this statistic about the group’s highest rank: for every 100 boys who join a Scout troop, only four will become Eagle Scouts.
In the Batchelor family, the batting average is 100 percent. Seven Scouts in the family – every male descendent of the late Raleigh photographer Burnie Batchelor – left the organization as Eagles. The youngest, 18-year-old Broughton High senior Maclin Batchelor, earned the distinction this year.
Maclin says he didn’t feel too much pressure not to break the streak, and the older Eagles in the family helped out. “I knew the ropes and it made it a lot easier going through the process,” he said.
Maclin’s dad, Ronnie Batchelor, 53, said he was inspired by his older brother, Rick – the family’s first Eagle Scout. “I really looked up to him,” Ronnie said. “Seeing him get his Eagle impressed upon me that it was something I wanted to do.”
Burnie Batchelor, Rick and Ronnie’s father, was the first to take an interest in Boy Scouts, though he wasn’t a member as a child.
“He wanted to make sure we were all busy and had stuff to do,” Ronnie recalled. “Dad felt like the three points of the Scout Oath (duty to God and country, to others and to self) were in line with the priorities of his life.”
The path to Eagle takes years, and it’s a lot more than tying knots and pitching tents. Scouts have to earn 21 merit badges on a wide range of topics including first aid, citizenship in the nation and basketry. They earn five rank advances before starting on Eagle. Then there’s the Eagle Scout project, which challenges boys to create something of lasting significance to the community.
Maclin built benches and created a new entrance to the football field at Broughton High, giving athletes a spot to relax between the action. Other Eagles in the family also opted to give back to their schools. Older brothers Andrew, 25 and an MBA student at Wake Forest University, and Davis, 22 and a senior at High Point University, built picnic tables for Lacy Elementary and Daniels Middle. Maclin’s cousin, Wesley Batchelor, now 30 and owner of a Raleigh insurance agency, built a nature trail at Aldert Root Elementary.
The heavy lifting of the Eagle project usually comes during the busiest part of high school. “When you turn 16 and get your license, you’re not thinking about Scout meetings on Monday nights,” Wesley said.
That means making sacrifices. Andrew said he dropped off the football team for a season because he had gotten behind on the Eagle checklist.
Once the project is finally done, Scouts have to answer probing questions about their work in a “board of review,” a committee of adults that awards the Eagle rank. It’s a lot like a job interview.
“You really had to think about deep answers to questions,” Andrew recalled.
The Eagle Scout accolade comes up in real job interviews, older Batchelor family Eagles said. Wesley said he’s met many fellow Eagles in the business world. “You get some common ground to share with someone you don’t know,” he said.
While most of the younger Batchelors are still in their 20s without kids, Maclin likely won’t be the last Batchelor boy to make Eagle.
“If I’m fortunate enough to have a son, I wouldn’t think twice about entering them in the Scout program,” Wesley said.