Kaleb Keen, 17, a junior and honors student at The Indiana Academy for Sciences, Mathematics, and Humanities for gifted students in Muncie, recently earned The Boy Scouts of America’s highest achievement, the rank of Eagle Scout. This accomplishment represents more than 10 years of dedicated service and membership first as a five year member of Michigan City Cub Scout Pack 871 and then as a member of Michigan City Boy Scout Troop 871 sponsored by The Coolspring Volunteer Fire Dept.
The Rank of Eagle Scout is an achievement few have attained. Less than 4 percent of all boys who have joined the Boy Scouts have achieved this prestigious award. Kaleb is part of the Eagle Class of 2015, BSA’s fourth largest Eagle Rank Class in it’s history, with Indiana ranking 25 out of the 50 states having 882 scouts attaining the rank Eagle.
In addition to the traditional skills learned in Boy Scouts, Kaleb has earned more than 40 merit badges — 21 of which are required to become an Eagle Scout — such as scuba diving, architecture, disability awareness, aviation, emergency preparedness, and Citizen of the Community, the Nation and the World.
As part of the Eagle Rank requirements, a scout is required to complete an Eagle Scout project. This project requires planning, organizing, coordinating, raising funds and soliciting donations for the project. Kaleb, with the help of professional landscaper Hope Robinson, designed a landscaping project for Michigan City Christian Church on W. Earl Road. Several local Michigan City nurseries donated supplies for the project including Beachside Gardens, H&S Services and also Michigan City resident Chester Schlegal.
The whole process, which Kaleb organized, took about a year of planning and just two days of labor with the help of more than30 family, friends and fellow scouts. The project consisted of removing and replacing numerous old and dying bushes and plants, pruning existing trees and bushes, relocating several ornamanetal trees, planting new trees, shrubbery and perennials, weeding and mulching four truck loads of mulch. More than $1,500 was raised in funds and supplies by Kaleb for the project from family, friends and businesses.
“The actual labor was easy,” shared Kaleb. “The planning was the hard part with conflicting scheduling dates, preparing a project presentation for a board of review for approval, writing letters for donations, ... asking local business owners for donations face to face was a very humbling experience.”
Kaleb’s mother Sally Keen, who accompanied her son when visiting local nurseries for donations, shared her thoughts, “I was very proud of Kaleb especially when it came to going around to ask for donations for the project because many were just unable help and had to refuse. Some not so kindly. But, it was a good growing experience in learning to take rejection like a man and keep pressing forward, not losing focus. We are so very thankful for the generosity of those businesses, family members and friends who were able to support Kaleb in this project.”
Scouting is not all hard work. “I have alot of great memories of having fun camping, sledding, caving, zip lining, and we even had a lot of fun working as a troop,” shared Kaleb.
He has been on countless Troop and Council camp outs, and BSA trips in his time as a Boy Scout including 10 days at BSA’s National Jamboree in West Virginia in 2013 where thousands of scouts from around the nation celebrated 100 years of scouting. In 2014 Kaleb joined fellow troop members and his father, assistant Scout master Dennis Keen, in traveling to Florida Sea Base where Kaleb got to swim with the sharks. Last summer, Keen had his first experience as a camp counselor at BSA’s Camp Tamarak in Michigan for six weeks. This summer Kaleb will be traveling as a member of BSA Venture Crew 871 led by BSA leaders Les and Beth Ann Ast to Arkansas for the 2016 Annual White River Canoe Race, a race that goes more than 100 miles through the Ozark Mountains.
Kaleb was officially declared a BSA Eagle Scout at a BSA Winter Advancement camp on Dec. 28. A formal ceremony will be held to honor Kaleb’s achievement at a Troop 871 “Eagle Scout Court of Honor” ceremony at Michigan City Christian Church 11232 W. Earl Road at 1 p.m. April 9. The Keen family welcomes all family and friends, fellow Eagles and local dignitaries to attend.