Three local Scouts — Brendan Smith, David O'Connor, and Luke Virsik — have attained the highest rank in scouting, becoming Eagle Scouts after earning merit badges and meeting other requirements.
Smith and O'Connor were honored on Sept. 22 at St. Matthias Church in Redwood City, and Virsik was awarded the rank of Eagle in late 2018.
Eagle Scout is the highest rank offered by the BSA, formerly known as Boy Scouts. Only a small percentage of members ever attain this prestigious honor, which requires that the Scouts earn 21 merit badges and devise and complete a final Eagle project.
Troop 206, first chartered by Trinity Episcopal Church in Menlo Park in 1958, has advanced 202 Scouts to Eagle rank in the past 61 years. Its membership currently includes active Scouts from Menlo Park, Woodside, Portola Valley, Redwood City, and Palo Alto.
Troop 206 Scouts participate in a variety of troop activities each year, such as putting out flags on Memorial Day, participating in the Veterans Day ceremony at Little House in Menlo Park, and collecting food for Second Harvest Food Bank.
They also do a variety of outdoor activities such as kayaking, rafting, rock climbing, and shooting, which were some of Brendan and David's favorites. The boys have made snow shelters and camped in the snow, and on backpacking trips at Philmont in the New Mexico high desert, the scouts were completely off-grid for almost two weeks.
Brendan Smith is the son of Adrian and Kathy Smith of Emerald Hills. He is currently a member of the senior class at Woodside High School.
He joined the troop in early 2014, just before his 12th birthday. "Scouting has provided me with a great foundation in planning and executing projects," says Brendan. "I feel that I am better prepared to take on real life challenges."
For his Eagle Scout project, he led a team in designing and building a drinking fountain for the preschool playground at St. Matthias in Redwood City, a project that took over 170 hours to complete.
In addition to scouting, Brendan has played four years of football at Woodside High, and he was also involved in musical theater there, playing the lead in the 2019 production of "Mamma Mia."
In addition, on a church mission to Ecuador, he spent three weeks working with Hansen's disease patients, at a leprosy clinic, which he says was "an amazing and rewarding experience."
David O'Connor, son of Michael and Gail O'Connor of Redwood City, has loved the outdoors for as long as his parents can remember. Scouting gave David the opportunity to build on his love for the outdoors and exposed him to life and career opportunities that allow him to be closer to nature.
With Troop 206, David backpacked 327 miles, and camped a total of 98 nights, 57 of which were on backpacking trips. According to troop leader Emma Shelton, Dave's camp cooking was memorable.
This summer he worked as a river rafting guide, and this winter he plans to crew on ski slopes in Utah.
At Woodside High School, David was on the varsity water polo and swim teams, and he founded the Cold Water (surfing) Club.
For his Eagle project, David designed and built a set of wooden bike racks for a small school in Layton, Utah. The racks are designed to provide safe storage and secure transportation for the school's 12 mountain bikes.
Luke Virsik, son of Peter and Allison Virsik of Ladera, was recognized as one of the Redwood District's Scouts of the Year in 2018, the same year he earned his Eagle rank. Luke is now a senior at Menlo School, where he has participated in the cross county, track, and robotics teams. His "main life goal and ambition, he says, is to be an astronaut."
For his Eagle project, Luke built two pieces of furniture, with the help of a parishioner, for the Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Cross in Belmont. One is a shelf for the choir's computer, and the other is a bookshelf for the babies' cry room.
"Scouting has taught me outdoor skills, such as how to build a fire and how to construct a survival shelter," Luke said. On the trail to Eagle, he has been a patrol leader and a senior patrol leader, roles that have taught him many leadership skills.
All of these Eagle Scouts have also been recognized as members of the Order of the Arrow, Scouting's honor society.