As former scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 77 in Smithville, Chuck Reed has a good idea of what makes a great scout. In his eyes, few fit the archetype as well as 18-year-old Ryan Kraemer, of the Smithville section of Galloway Township.
Reed, who was Kraemer's scoutmaster in Cub Scouts and for a few years in Boy Scouts, said Kraemer has matured into an impressive young man.
"Ryan is one of those kids you get once in a lifetime who really kind of gets the program," Reed said. "It was very much a privilege to watch him mature and come through that and pick up all the leadership skills along the way."
On May 6, Kraemer, who has been in scouting since he was 6 years old, received the rank of Eagle in a Court of Honor ceremony at the Atlantic County Institute of Technology.
To reach Eagle status, a Scout must earn 12 required badges, such as first aid, camping and personal fitness, and nine more merit badges of his choosing. The Scout also must complete an Eagle Scout service project that benefits the community. After the completion of these requirements, the Scout submits his body of work to the local Scout council for approval, at which point he is named an Eagle.
For his project, which he completed in June 2011, Kraemer and his fellow scouts improved the Holly Tree House and viewing area at the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in Galloway Township, mulching the areas and putting in new seating.
Being part of scouting, Kraemer said, has helped him in many ways.
"I've learned a lot of first aid, which I've used more than I can count," Kraemer said. "Leadership, planning, or fixing things that are broken, whether it be things or people's relationships, helping mediate the problem. It's an all-around beneficial program I've taken so many things from."
Now that he has attained the highest rank in scouting, Kraemer is hoping to take the next step by becoming an assistant scoutmaster with Troop 77.
While he soon will take an official leadership position with the troop, Kraemer has long been looked up to by his troopmates, said 15-year-old Senior Patrol Leader Zach Hassel.
"Ryan definitely portrays one of the most perfect examples of what a Boy Scout should be," Hassel said. "He's one of my role models in scouting."
After Kraemer was promoted to Eagle, he invited some people who were instrumental in his earning the rank on the stage to honor them for helping him get there. He gave a Mentor Pin to Reed and presented his parents, Robert Kraemer and Cheryl Knabe, with Eagle Scout parent pins.
As a former scout who never himself earned Eagle, Robert said it was a great feeling to see his son achieve the rank.
"I hope that everybody, every dad that has a son in scouts, gets to take advantage or get this opportunity to be recognized by being given the Eagle Scout parent pin by their son," he said.
Kraemer is a senior at ACIT, where he studies in the Academy of Math, Engineering and Science. He has been accepted at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, where he will study aerospace engineering starting this fall.
He plans to remain with Troop 77 as an assistant scoutmaster until he leaves for school. After that point, he's unsure what his future holds in terms of scouting, but after a dozen years in the program, he's certain to keep its lessons with him.
"I started out pretty much at the beginning," Kraemer said. "To come this far and to accomplish everything I wanted to accomplish, it really feels good."
Contact Braden Campbell: