Chris and Michael Smith are very driven.
The 17-year-old Ardrey Kell High School twins know what it means to be committed, spending their high school careers on the Ardrey Kell High football team – Chris a wide receiver and Michael an outside linebacker – and working to maintain good grades as members of the National Honor Society.
But it’s their long history with Boy Scouts of America that’s taught them to complete what they start, and in just a few short months they’ll be able to check Eagle Scout off their lists.
Both boys recently finished workdays for their Eagle projects and are now working on the final reports for a review board.
The two boys are members of Boy Scout Troop 15, based at St. Francis United Methodist Church in south Charlotte. Starting Cub Scouts as kindergarteners in Pack 15, Scouting has always been a big part of their lives: planning camping trips, gaining leadership skills and learning to appreciate the outdoors. But after hitting high school, it was easy to get distracted and lose their connection with Scouting. With football practice starting early in summer and taking up much of the boys’ time, Scouting sometimes took the backseat. But in the case of Chris and Michael, unlike a lot of Scouts who drop out after life gets too busy, they stuck it out. Though they might not be at the meetings, they still want to see Scouting through to the end.
“I really looked up to the older Scouts when I was younger, and I kind of wanted to be like them,” Michael said. “I’ve had a lot of friends who have stuck with Boy Scouts and who have helped me enjoy it and appreciate it a lot more.”
At the start of their junior year, Chris and Michael realized they needed to get the ball rolling on their projects in order to complete them before their 18th birthdays in October. They started brainstorming, bouncing back and forth between ideas until they talked with their football coach Adam Hastings, who came up with two ideas where football and Boy Scouts could collide.
Hastings had the idea for both boys to do beautification projects right outside the Ardrey Kell football field.
Both boys liked the idea and began to set their own individual projects in motion: Michael working to turn patchy grass in front of the stadium seating into rows of rose bushes and Chris working to install a landscaped area with the school’s “AK” logo visible to visitors.
Though the boys’ projects were different, they’ve been side by side the whole time, pushing each other to get a move on it, both boys said. Michael completed his workday in April, while Chris’s workday was June 1.
“We kind of bounce ideas off of each other to figure out what to focus on more. It’s all kind of been about accountability,” Chris said. “I know we’re not at Boy Scout meetings all the time, but it’s always been there. Going all the way through Eagle is a big commitment. We lasted this long, so why would we stop now?”
The boys’ dad, Allen Smith, also encouraged his sons to finish their Eagle projects. He said he’s proud of his boys for making it this far, all while balancing schoolwork, football and church youth group.
“They have come this far and it’s just been a lot of work getting to there. From an adult perspective, I know looking back they would regret getting that close and not completing it,” Allen Smith said.