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Taylorsville Journal

Five Taylorsville Boy Scouts honored simultaneously during a unique Eagle Court of Honor

Apr 03, 2022 07:47PM ● By Carl Fauver

Nicholas Bennett, Xaden Sumsion, Caleb White, Luke Smith and Koleby Goodson (L-R) were all recently honored by Taylorsville Boy Scout Troop 117, during a unique, five-scout Eagle Court of Honor. (Dawn Sumsion)

By Carl Fauver | [email protected]

An historic night for Taylorsville Boy Scout Troop 117 saw five different young men each receive their Eagle Scout awards during the same ceremony. The prestigious BSA Eagle Court of Honor is normally reserved for a single Scout to receive congratulations from fellow Scouts, friends and family. But Scoutmaster Steve Plothow offered his Scouts an opportunity to do things differently this time around and they jumped at it.

“We’ve not had a combined Eagle Court of Honor since two brothers received the rank advancement together, back in 1995,” Scoutmaster Plothow said. “I believe the Eagle Court should be a special night, reserved for a single honoree. But the circumstances were unique this time – and all the boys seemed to like the idea – so we did something different.”

Like so many things over the past two years, those “unique circumstances” were thanks in large part to COVID-19. Because so many public gatherings were curtailed by the pandemic, Plothow suddenly had multiple Scouts all needing to be properly recognized.

Another factor contributing to the situation was The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ decision to end its 105-year sponsorship of the Boy Scouts of America at the end of 2019. The move reportedly shrunk the number of Scout troops across northern Utah from 7,200 to just 110. While most boys ended their Scouting experience at that time, others scrambled to join the few remaining troops.

Plothow’s previous Boy Scout troop was among those that lost Church sponsorship. But they were one of a handful of troops that secured sponsorship instead from the Salt Lake County Firefighters employee union (IAFF 1696), allowing them to continue operations under their new 117 troop number.

“When we first made that change (January 2020) I had 40 boys register, from 10 different troops, Centerville to West Jordan,” Plothow added. “I didn’t know how I was going to handle that many boys. We moved our meeting place to the (Taylorsville-Bennion Heritage Center) dairy store. With 35 boys in there, you couldn’t hear a thing. We started feeding them pizza, just to quiet them long enough to conduct the meetings. Then, after only a few gatherings, COVID hit and we were shut down again.”

Troop 117 members met over Zoom for a year, finally returning to face-to-face meetings a year ago. That led to a normal, single-Scout Eagle Court of Honor last summer – followed by another eight months, before the quintet of Eagle Scouts were recognized inside the Taylorsville City Council chambers on Feb. 19.

“City officials told us we were the first group to rent out the council chambers since before coronavirus hit,” Plothow said. “We read a letter Mayor Overson wrote to the boys congratulating them. It was a nice event.”

Among the honorees were two young men who had earned the rank advancement some time ago, but had never received an Eagle Court of Honor. A third boy went through the ceremony just days before departing on a mission to Mexico for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.. And another enjoyed the ceremony less than six months before he will enter basic training for the Marine Corps Reserves.

All five of the Scouts – Nicholas Bennett, Koleby Goodson, Luke Smith, Xaden Sumsion and Caleb White – received matching, embroidered neckerchiefs, featuring an eagle along with their names and the date of the ceremony. The event was attended by about 130 people.

Dawn Sumsion is the mother Xaden, a Taylorsville High School senior – and the one bound for military boot camp in August.

“I think the combined Eagle Court of Honor was very cool,” she said. “It was great for them to acknowledge everyone. (Scoutmaster) Steve (Plothow) is an awesome leader. He really cares about the boys and wants them to succeed.”

Xaden is Dawn’s second son to earn his Eagle Scout rank, following older brother Kahner, who now attends Salt Lake Community College. Xaden’s father, Shane, is another Eagle Scout in the Sumsion family.

“It was great to have my dad and brother there,” Xaden said. “They sat in the Eagles Nest (an area set aside during the ceremony, for all Eagle Scouts in attendance). My two younger brothers, Jozef and Kyson, were also there. They want to be Eagle Scouts, too. Then there was my mom, an uncle and two grandparents (at the ceremony). It was great.”

Sumsion is one of those who had to transfer into Troop 117 after his Church-sponsored troop was disbanded.

“It was quite a blessing to find Steve’s troop,” Xaden concluded. “He made the meetings fun and got people excited to attend. I joined Boy Scouts at age 11 and have worked for (my Eagle rank advancement) for seven years. It was quite a journey and helped me to grow as a person. I learned skills I know I will use for the rest of my life.”

Plothow isn’t sure when his troop will hold its next Eagle Court of Honor. But he promises, more are coming.

“I have six boys who are Life Scouts (the rank just below Eagle),” Plothow added. “I have challenged each of them to have their Eagle Courts of Honor before the end of the year. I plan to go back to honoring each of them in separate Eagle Courts. This five-Scout ceremony was fun and different. But I still think each Scout who earns their Eagle deserves their own moment in the sun.”

Next up for Taylorsville Boy Scout Troop 117 is a fundraiser pancake breakfast outside the Taylorsville-Bennion Heritage Center (1488 W. 4800 S.) on Memorial Day morning (May 30).

“The Scouts will have a flag raising ceremony that morning, and adults will be cooking pancakes on two or three griddles outside the heritage center,” Plothow said. “After breakfast, my Scouts will conduct a ceremony to retire worn out United States flags.”

A month after the fundraiser breakfast, Troop 117 members will spend the final week of June outside Cedar City – not far from Brian Head Ski Resort – at BSA Camp Thunder Ridge. Plothow says he’s not taken a troop to that weeklong high adventure camp in a dozen years – back when the church still sponsored Scouting and only surgeons and bank robbers wore face masks.

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