By Vicky Nasteva
Carmel’s Ben Jennings recently celebrated his 14th birthday by earning Eagle Scout status, making him one of the youngest in the state to achieve Boy Scouts’ top honor.
What started as a way to engage with the community when Jennings and his family were new to Carmel became a passion and a path to self-discovery.
Becoming an Eagle is no easy feat. According to Scouting Magazine, as of 2015 only 2.01 percent of Scouts have earned the honor since its inception in 1912.
To gain Eagle status, Scouts are required to have at least 21 merit badges in subjects ranging from science to sports to business. Jennings has nearly 40.
Scouts seeking Eagle designation are tasked with identifying, planning, fundraising for and executing a service project. Jennings built a feral cat enclosure for a vaccination clinic. An animal lover, he wanted to make sure the cats had a comfortable place to recover after surgery before returning to the wild or entering a Barn Cat Program for adoption.
Jennings has always wanted a cat, but he and other family members are allergic.
Initially, the complexity of becoming an Eagle Scout intimidated Jennings, and he often jumped into challenges without a strategy and becoming overwhelmed. As the process unfolded, he was able to identify his weaknesses and change his approach.
“Finding myself in the journey was probably my favorite part,” Jennings said.