Stephen T. Malinowski, 18, of North Collins, received Scouting’s highest award, the rank of Eagle Scout, in ceremonies held March 9 in the North Collins Senior Center.
A member of Troop 429, sponsored by the North Collins American Legion, Stephen has been active in Scouting since entering as a Tiger Cub when a first-grader. Of course, no journey is made alone, and his parents, Wade and Lori Malinowski, have been with him every step of the way and became Scout leaders as well.
In a memorable ceremony, Malinowski’s Eagle Medal was pinned on him by his mother. His fellow Scouts provided an honor guard and conducted a candlelight Eagle Induction Ceremony.
To reach Eagle status, a young man must pass through six rank advancements and earn a minimum of 21 merit badges. Perhaps the most daunting challenge is the Eagle Service Project, where the Scout must plan, promote, organize, and supervise an endeavor that will make a positive impact on his community.
Taking his cue from a previous troop service project, Stephen developed a new recreation opportunity for area residents at the town’s Langford Park. Dubbed “The Legion Trail,” a nearly half-mile trail winds its way through the woods at the park. The name was chosen to honor his troop’s sponsoring organization as well as all veterans.
In its planning, Stephen conferred with Town Highway Superintendent David Winter about the possibility. Winter, who has spent several years addressing drainage problems and adding amenities to the park, enthusiastically agreed to Malinowski’s proposal.
He also had to find willing volunteers to accomplish the project and found his fellow Scouts and leaders more than willing to help. The group spent a chilly, rain-soaked weekend camped at the park while clearing brush and marking the trail. Leaders operated chain saws while Scouts gathered up brush to establish several rabbit hutches in hopes of attracting wildlife. Malinowski also enlisted the talents of a local carver to produce signs clearly marking the trail’s two entrances.
A bit of drama was unfolding during that weekend as well. Stephen’s 18th birthday was rapidly approaching. All Eagle requirements must be met prior to the Scout’s 18th birthday to be eligible. Exemptions are only offered to Scouts with particular challenges or who are involved in military service.
With the help of his Eagle Scout Mentor, Jim Myers, Stephen finished the last of his requirements in the short time available.
During his Court of Honor, the honoree spoke of the value of his Scouting experience and left his fellow Scouts with one important piece of advice: “Don’t Procrastinate!”
While Stephen’s Scout career has met its ultimate goal, he will remain active in the movement as he takes on the position of Assistant Scoutmaster with Troop 429 and shares his experience with this and future generations.
TRAIL BLAZERS — Pictured is the contingent of Troop 429 Scouts and leaders who braved a chilly and wet October weekend to create the Legion Trail. (Photo by Larry Wroblewski)
PROUD PARENTS — Lori and Wade Malinowski congratulate their son, Stephen, following his Eagle Scout Court of Honor. (Photo by Larry Wroblewski)
GAINING ENTRY — Stephen Malinowski displays the hand-crafted signs he obtained to mark the trail's entrances. (Photo by Larry Wroblewski)