March 18, 2013
Eagle Scout promotes literacy
Homer eighth-grader organizes literacy fair at Phillips Free Library
HOMER — Noah Kilmer has loved to read since he was a child, so a literacy fair seemed like a perfect project for the last step in his becoming an Eagle Scout.
The eighth-grader at Homer Junior High School spent most of Saturday at Phillips Free Library, coordinating a series of events to promote reading and writing. He recruited four authors of young adult books to help.
Kilmer, 13, will join four other boys who have achieved Eagle Scout rank in Homer’s Troop 79: Colin Lake, Connor Lake, Dylan Cochran and Andrew Thompson.
Ithaca author Kelly Horrocks, who writes under the pen name “Kelly Grant,” led a writing workshop. Horrocks, a middle school social studies teacher, has published the novel “The Time Traveler’s Apprentice” and asked members of the library’s Writing Club to help her brainstorm ideas for a second novel in the series.
Rochester author Charles Benoit, Binghamton author Paul Juser and Colorado author Ingrid Law offered their thoughts on writing and publishing, during the five-hour event.
Law spoke via Skype from her home. Her books include the novel “Savvy,” a Newbery Honor book about a family whose members develop a superpower on their 16th birthdays. The main character is a girl who is waiting to see what her power will be.
“I like the library, so I wanted to do something for it,” Noah Kilmer said, adding that he has noticed children — especially boys — do not like to read books.
Eagle Scout is the highest rank in Boy Scouts of America, achieved by about 5 percent of the boys who join scouting, according to the organization’s web site. In 2011, the number of boys who achieved the rank was 51,473 across the nation.
Eagle Scout candidates from troops in Cortland, Homer, Marathon and Dryden have done countless service projects across the region. A project for school, community or religious organization is the final requirement for the rank, following the boy’s showing leadership in the troop as patrol leader and senior patrol leader, earning 21 merit badges and his performing community service.
Noah Kilmer’s guests Saturday included his father, Mike Kilmer, an assistant scoutmaster; paternal grandmother, Mary Ann Hamilton; and maternal grandfather, Gene Smith, who said he has been involved with the Boy Scouts for 43 years and has been scoutmaster of Troop 79.
About 30 to 40 children took part in the literacy fair.
Noah Kilmer said he enjoys the camping and hiking aspects of scouting, but is more enthused about what the troop does on campouts, such as whitewater rafting or visiting historical sites.
“I joined Tiger Scouts in first grade,” he said. “I saw a flyer about it and it sounded cool, and I kept going.”
Tiger Scouts is for the youngest boys, followed by Cub Scouts and then Boy Scouts. Eagle Scout is the sixth and highest rank a Boy Scout can reach.
The Boy Scouts of America has kept itself relevant by adding merit badges in technology, drafting and career paths, Mike Kilmer said.
“It (scouting) grew with the times, but it’s still about leadership and the outdoors,” he said.
He said the typical age for a boy to earn Eagle Scout is about 16, but it is not unusual for boys to reach the rank at 12 or 13, as his son did.
“It’s easier for a junior high student, they don’t have as much going on as a high school student,” he said. “High school students have sports, clubs, things they do to get ready for college.”
The most-earned merit badges are first aid, swimming, camping, cooking and community citizenship, according to the Boy Scouts web site.
Juser is the author of the novels “Salvation Shark” and “Dollars Per Hour,” and the history book “Man-In-Sea,” about Edwin Link, a pioneer in aviation and underwater exploration for whom a field at the Binghamton airport is named. He developed his flight simulator while working at the Cortland County airport.
Benoit, who is a copywriter for a Rochester advertising and public relations firm, has published the adult mystery novels “Relative Danger,” “Out of Order” and “Noble Lies,” and the young adult novel “You.”
Horrocks had the children in her writing workshop suggest ideas for her next book. She said she stalled while working on her second novel and was hoping they could help her. She said she would include them in the acknowledgments page, when the book is published.
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