FLEMING ISLAND – Nathaniel Archibeque’s path to becoming an Eagle Scout involved earning at least 21 merit badges, serving on leadership councils, passing through several boards of review and completing a community project. So a little thing like living 4,289 miles away in Rota, Spain, wasn’t going to keep the high school senior from collecting his white National Eagle Scout scarf on Feb. 1.
To make it to the annual recognition dinner at Sacred Heart Catholic Church’s Sullivan Hall, Archibeque and his parents left Rota on Jan. 28 for an eight-hour bus ride to Madrid. They then flew another eight hours to New York City and finished the journey with a two-hour flight to Jacksonville.
“We’ve been waiting all year for this,” said the Eagle Scout’s mother, Janelle. “It was worth the trip.”
The community project is the foundation for achieving the rank of Eagle. It requires developing a project to benefit the community, as well as organizing donations and construction. This year’s group accounted for 6,772 combined hours of community service.
Archibeque was one of 41 Eagles to be recognized. All earned letters of appreciation from several governmental and civic organizations, as well as their coveted scarfs. But more than anything else, keynote speaker Mike Cella, a Clay County Commissioner, reminded them: once an Eagle, always an Eagle.
Cella, who earned the rank of Eagle as an eighth grader, told the newest induction class about successes of other Eagles, astronaut Neil Armstrong, who was the first man to walk on the moon, President Gerald R. Ford and former NBA star and U.S. Senator Bill Bradley.
“Be very proud of what you’ve accomplished,” Cella said.
The Black Creek District was started in 1982 by Dr. Jerry L. Linder and Andy Sullivan. The first recognition dinner followed in 1983.
Linder died shortly after last year’s annual ceremony, and Saturday’s celebration was dedicated to his memory.
“I’ve been blessed by so many people who’ve shared their trips in life,” Sullivan said. “The dinner is to provide recognition for the Black Creek District to those who’ve attained Eagle Scout in the past year. “We’re proud of the membership.”
The Black Creek District now has 1,057 who’ve attained the level of Eagle Scout, Sullivan said.
The ceremony also included appearances and awards presented by Edgardo Silva, the Constituent Advocate of U.S. Con. Ted Yoho, Asst. Superintendent David Broskie, Clay County School Board Vice Chair Mary Bolla, commissioners Cella, Wayne Bolla and Gayward Hendry, Black Creek District BSA Chairman Bob Eisweth, Black Creek BSA Commissioner Larry Nichols, Black Creek BSA District Executive Jos Mintz and Sheriff Darryl Daniels.
Lisa Ashworth, a past president of the Rotary Club of Orange Park, announced her organization will fund a $1,000 scholarship this year for a Clay County Eagle Scout.