Nicholas Keyes, 18, of Auburn was awarded his Eagle Badge on October 5. Nicholas is a member of Troop 53 based at Faith Baptist Church. The Eagle Scout rank is the highest merit achievement in Boy Scouts of America.
Keyes joined Troop 53 in 2007 and immediately established himself as a leader. He became a Patrol Leader and a Den Chief for Cub Scout Pack 53. Within a year, he was inducted into the Order of the Arrow and became an Ordeal member of Pachachaug Lodge #525, Scouting’s National Honor Society. In his tenure, Keyes would serve as a senior patrol leader, Troop Guide, Junior Assistant Scoutmaster, and a vice chief for the Order of the Arrow. In 2012, he earned the World Conservation Award.
Even for someone as driven as Keyes, earning the rank of Eagle Scout is no easy task. There are a series of merit badges that must be earned, and candidates must fulfill a range of community service projects. The most widely known of these, and the largest undertaking, is the candidate’s Eagle Scout Project. Keyes developed a local Poison Prevention Awareness Program as his Eagle Project. He learned that every 8 seconds, someone contacts a poison control center, he realized the importance of this project and wanted every home owner to be aware of the potential dangers these items can have.
He began his project in September, 2012 by researching the effects of unintentional poisoning which can be caused by everyday home products. “I worked with the Auburn Fire Department and talked to Chief Coleman. He was great.” says Keyes. “Then I came up with a tri-fold pamphlet and a cover letter.” Keyes added. “The letter explained that this was all informational. I didn’t want to put anyone off thinking we were selling anything.”
The pamphlets were printed at the Auburn High School Graphics Arts department with the cooperation of teacher Elizabeth Palmer, Principal Casey Handfield and Vice Principal Eileen Donahue. Worcester Envelope donated 8,000 envelopes, and Keyes also landed a donation of 20,000 sheets of paper. “The high school allowed me to use their printers as long as I could provide the paper. Everyone really helped out.”
Once the materials were printed, folded and stuffed into 8,000 envelopes (think about that the next time your groaning about addressing thank you notes…) Nicholas and a number of helpers from Troop 53 hand delivered the packets to nearly every household in Auburn, providing the toll-free hotline number and this life-saving awareness pamphlet over the course of 4 months and a total of 277 hours.
There are still some of these packets left, and can be found at the Auburn Police Department, Auburn Fire Department and the Auburn Public Library.
Nicholas graduated from Auburn High this past May. He is presently a first year student at Assumption College in Worcester. He is studying French and education, in hopes of someday being a French teacher. Coming “home” to formally receive his Eagle Badge at an Eagle Court of Honor Ceremony on October 5th was an exciting moment, as one might imagine.
“It was great to hear the letters, the congratulations from Congressmen, representatives and other people. Then all the people that came out to congratulate me, was a little overwhelming.”
Keyes stays active in Scouting, currently serving as Assistant Scout Master for Troop 53. He is also a member of the Order of the Arrow, and acts as something of a liaison linking the Order to local Native American tribes. He values the lifelong lessons Scouting has instilled in him. “One thing is that I am really comfortable with public speaking, and that is directly from my experiences in Scouting.”
He also hopes that he can help other Scouts take as much from the organization as he himself has received. The critical takeaway for Nicholas, however, is trying to live the components of the Scout Law. “There are 12 points in the Scout Law” Keyes explains. “I just try to live those every day Try to be a good person.”