Sixteen-year-old Shane Bell knew almost from the start of his Scouting career that he wanted to be an Eagle Scout.

"Scouting has always been a big part of my life," said the Holy Spirit High School junior, who has been involved in Scouting since he was 5 years old. "There was a goal I set for myself to move up in all the ranks and do the best I could."

Bell, a member of Troop 634 based in Galloway Township, reached his goal Jan. 26 when he was celebrated in an Eagle Scout Court of Honor at Assumption Regional Catholic School.

"This is something I've looked forward to and planned to do for a long time," Bell said. "Achieving Eagle Scout is a tremendous honor for which I am very grateful."

The Eagle Scout Award is the culmination of all that a Scout has learned.

According to Scouting officials, the Eagle rank is achieved by only 4 percent of all Scouts. Since it was first awarded in 1912, it has been given to more than a million Scouts who consistently performed to the best of their ability and exceeded expectations at every stage.

To reach Eagle, 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 his community. After the completion of these requirements, the Scout submits his body of work to the local Scouting council for approval, at which point he is named an Eagle.

"Shane has always been one of our most consistent merit badge earners," said Troop 634 Scoutmaster Todd Schromsky. "In total, a scout needs 21 merit badges for qualify for Eagle, but he earned 37. That says something about his drive and determination."

Schromsky said he has known Bell since he began as a Tiger Cub, the first level of Scouting for boys.

"I've seen him become a fine young man over the years," Schromsky said. "It's always an honor for a troop when one of our own rises to the top."

Bell's service project for his Eagle Scout badge consisted of the purchase and installation of three pieces of fitness equipment at Assumption School's playground. Bell attended the school throughout his elementary and middle school years and worked with the school principal to determine what new pieces were needed.

"I wanted to give something back to the school that I grew up in," he said. "I really believe in the idea of community service."

He also is proud that his two younger brothers who still attend the school, Connor, an eighth-grader, and Kevin, a fifth-grader, will benefit from the work as well as future generations of students.

It took about six months of fundraising to raise the $5,000 needed to purchase a pull-up station, a horizontal ladder (monkey bars) and a spring balance beam for the playground. Beginning last April, he led a team of more than 20 Scouts and adults who assisted in the installation of the new equipment, which took several months to complete.

"He was very determined," said his father, Jon, who added that he and his wife, Terry, are very proud of their son's accomplishment. "It meant a lot to him to contribute to the school."

Contact Lucia C. Drake:

609-272-7295