significantly benefit the community

Eagle Scout rank awarded to Camden Troop 200’s Matthew Robert Clayton

Sat, 08/26/2023 - 4:30pm

ROCKPORT — Friends, family and fellow Scouts assembled at the Rockport Masonic Center on August 21, 2023 for the awarding of the Eagle Scout rank to Camden Troop 200’s Matthew Robert Clayton.

Matthew is the son of Mark Clayton and Heidi O'Donnell. He joined Cub Scouting in 2011 as a member of Pack 200 in Camden where he lives. He joined Troop 200 in 2016. He is planning to attend the Southern Maine Community College next year. 

Becoming an Eagle Scout takes perseverance and hard work. Scouts have to earn all the ranks in order starting with Scout. They must be active in their troop and show that they live by the Scout Oath and Law. They must earn at least 21 merit badges and of those, 14 must come from the list of Eagle-required merit badges. Parents, teachers and religious or community leaders must be willing to write a letter of reference about the Scout. They must serve in a leadership position within the Troop. They must propose, plan, and carry out an Eagle Scout project that will significantly benefit the community. They must attend a conference with their Scoutmaster and then they must pass the Eagle Scout Board of Review.

“In fact, Matthew exceeded these requirements by earning more than 60 merit badges, serving as Senior Patrol Leader and providing a service project to benefit Merryspring Nature Center in Camden,” said Chuck Mahaleris, in a news release.

He had been volunteering there for years and for his project they identified and removed invasive plant species near the vernal pool, cleaned up the stone steps and installed a gravel viewing platform with a stone retaining wall.

“This will be a tremendous benefit to the community for years to come,” said the release.

“Matthew did not waste any time working on advancement in Troop 200. Among his notable accomplishments were completing the Mile Swim numerous times, earning multiple religious awards, and the National Medal for Outdoor Achievement. Matthew has also attended the National Jamboree, the World Jamboree, and trekked at Philmont and the Florida Sea Base,” Troop 200 Scoutmaster Ed Weber said. “Matthew was a quiet leader in Troop 200. To date, he is the only member of our troop to hold the position of Leave No Trace Guide. In this position, Matthew had to become specially trained. Once his training was complete, his job was to keep our troop educated on how to make sure we left outdoor areas better than we found them. Also of note was that Matthew agreed to be the Senior Patrol Leader for Troop 200. I say “agreed” because he did not really want the position, but at the time he was the most experienced member of our troop who had not yet held the position. It turned out to be a very challenging year, because Matthew was our Senior Patrol Leader during Covid. That meant he had to help plan activities and lead our troop with a whole new set of guidelines that we were all learning together.”

Matthew was one of very few Scouts in New England to earn the National Medal for Outdoor Achievement. When a Scout excels in outdoor participation, there are awards to show for it. The National Medal for Outdoor Achievement program, conceived by the BSA’s National Camping Task Force, includes a series of six badges designed to recognize a Scout, Sea Scout, or Venturer who has exemplary knowledge and experience in performing high-level outdoor activities: camping, aquatics, conservation, hiking, riding, or adventure. The requirements are purposefully challenging but that is what Scouts like Matthew Clayton seek out.

His mother, Heidi O’Donnell, praised his adventurous spirit. “Matthew, I am well aware of the commitment you've poured into scouting, and I couldn't be more proud of your perseverance… Especially in earning the National Medal for Outdoor Achievement - earned by less than three ten-thousandths of scouts annually (That’s zero point zero zero zero three percent!) While school, undoubtedly important, is a triumph often attained with guidance from educators, parents, and peers… the journey of scouting, especially culminating in earning the Eagle rank, represents an entirely distinct kind of experience and accomplishment. It stands as a far greater achievement than a high school diploma because it's not obligatory – it's something you've had to commit to.”

Webber said, "There are 12 points in the Scout Law. If I were going to select just one word to define Matthew, it would be the third point of the Law, which is helpful. Matthew is the kind of scout who will always help out if he sees a need. He never turns away from younger scouts, and he is always a team player."