Decorated Eagle Scout from Wildwood takes leadership skills to the next level

2012-03-14T00:00:00Z 2012-03-14T07:59:10Z Decorated Eagle Scout from Wildwood takes leadership skills to the next levelBY SUSAN WEICH • sweich@post-dispatch.com > 636-255-7207 stltoday.com

Lucas Shapland wants to be the CEO of a large company someday, and anyone who knows the Lafayette High School senior is confident he'll achieve it.

Shapland, 18, of Wildwood, is one of the most decorated Eagle Scouts ever in the Greater St. Louis Area Council. He's an accomplished musician, playing percussion for three years with the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra. He's performed in several one-act plays, and he's been lauded for his leadership. He does it all while maintaining a 3.8 grade-point average. He hasn't decided where he'll attend college.

"He's a real Renaissance man," said Joe Mueller, spokesman for the local scout council. "I'd really like to fast-forward 20 years because it would be fascinating to see who he is going to be."

After Shapland completed 21 merit badges and the other requirements to become an Eagle Scout in 2008, he stayed involved with his troop, racking up dozens of honors, including 12 palm awards. Each palm means Shapland earned five merit badges over a three-month period. So 12 palms signifies earning 60 merit badges over three years. Shapland ended up with a few extra merit badges, 88 in all.

Shapland said the hardest badge to earn was one for cycling, which required him to go on seven bike rides totaling 150 miles. But he shrugged off the time and dedication it took to earn all the others.

"My dad kind of pushed me to set a goal for myself, and I just kind of stayed involved," he said.

The National Scout Council doesn't keep track of palm awards, but Mueller said only 4 percent of Scouts achieve Eagle Scout, and not many earn a single merit badge more after they reach the rank.

Dr. John Weltmer, a local orthopedic surgeon and national jamboree organizer, is among the few who have earned 12 palms. He was there when Shapland got his.

"It just shows a level of maturity that most guys don't have at that age," Weltmer said,

Scoutmasters say it's hard to keep boys involved in Scouting once they hit their teens and become interested in cars and girls.

Shapland is touted as a leader in other areas too. AnnMarie Gilman, a former Lafayette teacher and family friend, said she'd seen Shapland help other students involved in music, where Shapland consistently earned exceptional marks.

"Instead of bragging about his accomplishments, he'd tell kids, 'Hey, I'll help you with your piece; if you want to be able to do that, you can do it too,' " said Gilman. "He's a very giving person of his own talent because I think he gets great joy in helping other people."

Weltmer and Mueller said Shapland has a gift when it comes to reaching young Scouts.

"There's some people who are rah rah, get out front and yell and scream," said Weltmer. "That's not what Lucas does. He just says this is the way you're supposed to do something and then leads by example."

Mueller, whose son Ryan looks up to Shapland, said Shapland remembered Ryan at activities, and that meant a lot.

"That's kind of rare because when kids are accomplished in sports, band, whatever, there's sometimes not a willingness to help others out who come along the trail they've blazed."

Stuart Morse, the current scoutmaster of Shapland's Troop 601, said Shapland has a good sense of humor, something he showed when some of the younger boys played a trick on him at a ceremony before he got his 12th palm.

A band was playing, and they asked Shapland to come up and sing a song with them, Morse said. They handed him the words to "The Dreidel Song," and proceeded to speed up the tempo until it got so fast that Shapland stopped singing and started laughing.

"It was interesting because a lot of dignitaries from Scouting were there, and the younger boys knew that, but they felt it was OK to kind of roast Lucas right there," he said.

Shapland has aged out of the Scouts now, but he's still involved in Venturing and the Sea Scouts, two coed groups that continue until age 21. And he's still helping out younger Scouts.

"I just treat everyone equally, and I try to be everyone's friend," he said. "I try to help as many people as I can in as many ways as I can."

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