Santa Rosa twin Boy Scouts awarded highest ranking

Austin and Travis Richter of Montgomery High School were awarded in December the highest and most hallowed rank: Eagle Scout.|

Twin brothers Austin and Travis Richter avoided the water for years. But one of the things they learned while in the Boy Scouts was to face their fears.

One summer at camp, they hopped into a kayak together and sailed off on the river.

Their years of learning life lessons in the Boy Scouts recently led the Richter brothers, juniors at Montgomery High School in Santa Rosa, to attain the highest and most glorified rank in the Boy Scouts: Eagle Scout.

“We’ve been working towards this for four to five years,” said Travis, 17. “It was something we’ve always wanted to accomplish.”

Reaching this rank is a big deal. Only 6% of scouts nationwide earn their Eagle badge; in the Redwood Empire Council, it’s 10%, according to Charles Howard-Gibbon, scout executive for Redwood Empire Council.

And the requirements for the scouting achievement are lengthy: leading an Eagle service project; serving as a troop leader for at least six months, and earning 21 merit badges, including 14 specifically required for the rank. Completing these requirements takes at least 20 months or more to complete, Howard-Gibbon said.

The Richter brothers began their scouting journey in the first grade as Cub Scouts. Then in sixth grade, they transitioned to Boy Scouts and climbed up six ranks — learning first-aid tactics, how to cook, about plants and animals, leadership and public speaking.

On March 4, former Eagle recipients joined together to celebrate their achievement during an Eagle Scout Board of Review at First United Methodist Church in Santa Rosa. Austin and Travis were two of 45 scouts locally who earned the rank.

They’re a part of Troop 55 in Santa Rosa, which falls under the Boy Scouts’ Redwood Empire Council, composed of about 1,100 youths across Sonoma and Mendocino counties.

“Scouting is our outlet,” said Austin, 17. “We love being in nature with our troop. It’s kind of an escape from the world.”

For their service project to attain Eagle Scout rank, the Richters each decided to build outdoor benches to display at Strawberry Elementary School in Santa Rosa, where they attended as kids and have grown to love its staff, Travis said.

The twins have each earned 67 merit badges, Dave Smilie, their scoutmaster said.

“I’ve never seen a set of twins more close than these guys,” Smilie said.

Outside of scouting they play golf, instruments and participate in community service.

“They’re well- rounded, generous people and don’t limit themselves to a single thing,” Smilie said. “I think they can truly do anything they want to do.”

Growing up, the twins always wanted to do their best. As kids, they requested to wear sport coats and ties to church while most kids wore casual jeans, according to Donna Weaver, their grandmother.

Weaver’s three daughters, now in their 40s, received the Gold Award, the highest award one can earn in Girl Scouts. Her respect for scouting grew over time as she worked as a troop assistant for various local Girl Scout troops for 20 years.

“We’ve made a full circle,” said Weaver, of Santa Rosa. “First my daughters and now my grandchildren. This means a lot.”

There were over 1 million scouts nationwide in 2022, according to Howard-Gibbon.

Scouts in Sonoma and Mendocino County, 83% are boys and 17% are girls. In 2019, girls could earn Boy Scouts of America’s highest rank of Eagle Scout.

The organization first started nationwide in 1910 and in 1919, it started in Petaluma.

“You learn a lot of skills, like how to splint a leg, swimming, cooking, but it’s really meant to teach you life skills,” Austin said. “That’s what’s valuable.”

You can reach Staff Writer Mya Constantino at @searchingformya on Twitter.

Mya Constantino

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