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Western Pa. Eagle Scouts honored, urged to develop leadership, character

| Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012, 12:18 a.m.
Eagle Scouts and their mentors sit down for dinner at the 63rd annual Eagle Scout Recognition Dinner for the Laural Highlands Council to honor the region’s more than 315 new Eagle Scouts for 2012 at the Westin Convention Center, Downtown, Tuesday, November 20, 2012. Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Eagle Scouts bow during the invocation at the 63rd annual Eagle Scout Recognition Dinner for the Laural Highlands Council to honor the region’s more than 315 new Eagle Scouts for 2012 at the Westin Convention Center, Downtown, Tuesday, November 20, 2012. Pictured from left to right is Sean Paden, Adam Talbot, Nicholas Hills, Brandon Perez and Daniel Cozma. Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review

The keynote speaker at a dinner honoring the more than 315 young men who this year achieved Scouting's highest rank — Eagle Scout — challenged them to view their accomplishment as the start, rather than the end, of a journey that will define who they are.

“Being an Eagle Scout is not about the badge,” said Dan McCarthy, group director of the Scout's high-adventure base being constructed in West Virginia. “It's not about what you've done, it's about who you are. It's about what you do from here on that defines you as an Eagle Scout.”

The dinner was held Tuesday evening at the Westin Convention Center, Downtown.

In addition to providing Scouts with a camp offering a range of challenging activities, Summit Bechtel Reserve will be the permanent home to the National Boy Scout Jamboree scheduled for July 15-24.

McCarthy urged the new class of Eagle Scouts from the Laurel Highlands Council to rely on the values they have learned in Scouting such as character, fitness and citizenship as they move through life.

“The torch is passed on to you to continue to apply these lessons and help others who follow in your footsteps,” he said.

Michael B. Surbaugh, Scout executive of the Laurel Highlands Council, called on the Scouts to reflect on all the things they learned as they progressed through the ranks and use those skills as they enter adulthood.

“You should never forget the road you've taken and the journey you started out on as a Tiger Cub and culminated in finally achieving Eagle,” Surbaugh said. “Your time is now. Our nation and world are facing serious challenges, and without the finest in leadership the consequences are dire. We are depending on you to take what you've learned to lead, and lead with character.”

Consol Energy Chairman and CEO J. Brett Harvey, who was selected as this year's Eagle Scout Class Honoree, said he was “humbled” by the award because it comes from an organization that promotes such strong values.

“I'm so proud to help an organization that is willing to step forward and push the values promoted by Scouting,” said Harvey, whose company has donated $15 million for the construction of a 700-foot bridge at Summit Bechtel.

Daniel Uber, 16, of O'Hara, who recently earned his Eagle Scout badge, said the biggest lesson he learned in the 10 years he has been involved in Scouting “is that anything is possible.”

“I loved the entire experience — from learning little things like how to tie knots, participating in Scouting for Food and on up through organizing and carrying out my Eagle Scout project have been wonderful experiences,” he said.

Uber said while the personal accomplishments of progressing through the ranks of Scouting were important, he give equal weight to learning to work in a group.

“I saw each challenge as another mountain to climb,” he said. “Scouting is an organization that has real depth and I believe what I've received has definitely changed my life.”

Tony LaRussa is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7987 or

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