A service at St. Peter’s United Church of Christ marked the end of an era for an Inman Boy Scout Troop.
The Sunday morning service included retiring the flag of Troop 107 and honoring its long-time leader.
The troop has existed in the area for more than 17 years but did not have enough interested participants to recharter for the upcoming year. The flag was honorably folded and given back to St. Peters, its charter organization.
Long-time leader and scout master Leon Heidebrecht was also honored for more than 20 years of service with the Boy Scouts.
Heidebrecht honored the 11 young men who became Eagle Scouts under his leadership and emphasized it wouldn’t have been possible without support from the church and the scout’s parents who pushed them to succeed.
“I just want you to never underestimate the mission you have accomplished over the past 20 plus years,” he said to the congregation. “We were never large. We were always small, but we always had your support. And over the years, we learned how valuable that support was.”
The community watched as the boys grew into men through a wide variety of experiences. Heidebrecht emphasized they learned much through community service, such as picking up after the community fireworks show or scraping the golf course.
However, it’s the values they learned, he said, that will carry them forward. Many have asked if they could still help with the church’s annual groundhog feed even though the troop wouldn’t be officially organized.
“That’s one of the things that makes you proud,” he said. “A lot of them moved on and are still looking for opportunities for community service. That’s something we want to push. (The community) counts on people willing to serve, and these young men have kind of picked up on that, and that’s definitely a bonus for our country. You look at these guys, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.”
Shaun Julian became an Eagle Scout in 2004 and was one of the first under Heidebrecht’s leadership to receive this honor. He said the process took a significant amount of fortitude and willingness to complete.
“It’s definitely a cooperative effort on the parts of the parents and your fellow scouts,” he said. “You definitely have to work together, so relationships are a huge thing. I haven’t seen a lot of these guys for a few years, and we just picked right back up. These are bonds that are formed.
“There’s also a lot of little skills we learned like first aid and emergency preparedness. I could go on and on.”
Page 2 of 2 - Josh Nichols became an Eagle Scout within the last few months and spoke highly of Heidebrecht’s leadership.
“He always had everything prepared,” Nichols said. “Everything always ran smooth. He always was responsible, and everything was fair.”
Other Eagle Scouts include C.W. O’Brien, Javan Koehn, James O’Brien, Stephen Heidebrecht, Taylor Glenn, Aaron Heidebrecht, Jeff Leddy, Jordan Julian and Jonathon Castleberry.
Heidebrecht admitted he learned a lot working with about 50 scouts, including mediating, patience and listening.
“There were a lot of growing pains,” he said. “We learned just about as much as the (scouts) did.”
In the end, it was hard for him to let go.
“It was difficult giving back the troop flag today,” he said. “I will definitely miss it. (St. Peter's was) a great charter organization, and I truly hope some day there will be scouting again in Inman.
For Heidebrecht, he plans to be involved in the community through other avenues.
“It’s been part of my life for so long, I just have to do something like that,” he said.
St. Peter’s will host a Girl Scouts service on Sunday.
Contact Jenae Pauls at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter @PaulsSentinel