- The Washington Times - Friday, September 25, 2009

When Michael Lucchi turned 11, his father, Len, took him to four Boy Scout troops in Bowie. Mr. Lucchi wanted to let Michael choose which troop he would join.

He did this knowing full well that his son’s mind already was made up.

It was inevitable that Michael would join Troop 403, sponsored by Holy Trinity Episcopal Church. It’s the same troop Mr. Lucchi to which Mr. Lucchi belonged 30 years ago, when he was a Scout in Bowie. It’s the troop where, in 1976, Mr. Lucchi became an Eagle Scout, earning the highest honor a Boy Scout can achieve.

Since Michael began his Boy Scout career in Troop 403, he has advanced rapidly through the various levels of achievement, just as his father did.

“He probably would not admit it, but he was probably trying to match a lot of his father’s accomplishments,” said Jim Morehouse, Troop 403 Scoutmaster.

This summer, Michael finally matched his father’s greatest Scouting achievement by becoming an Eagle Scout. He accomplished this goal in just three years - Michael was 14 at the time.

On average, most Scouts are at least 16 before they make Eagle, and often boys earn the rank in the months before they turn 18 and no longer would be eligible to be Scouts, Mr. Morehouse said.

“Making Eagle at his age? That’s unusual,” Mr. Morehouse said. “That’s just a lot of drive on his part and the desire to do it.”

In Michael’s case, no one in the troop or in his family has ever questioned his desire. When he joined the troop, Michael often took other Scouts his age to look at a plaque hanging in a stairwell at Holy Trinity. His father’s name is listed on the plaque as the fifth Eagle Scout the troop ever had.

Michael would point out his father’s name and confidently tell his friends that soon he would be honored on the plaque as well.

Eagle Scouts are required to earn at least 21 merit badges, hold a leadership position in the troop for at least six months and plan and execute a local community-service project. Then they go before a review board, whose members are adult leaders in the troop and local community officials.

What sets Michael apart from other Scouts his age is his determination, which comes from the father-son competition, Mr. Lucchi said. Michael wants to accomplish everything his father did, only better.

So far, Michael has succeeded. He became an Eagle Scout at younger age than his dad, who achieved the rank at 15. Michael has 41 merit badges. Mr. Lucchi earned the required 21 but no more.

“There are a lot of boys who probably have a dozen or so partial [merit badges],” said Brenda, Michael’s mother. “But it’s the effort it takes to go from getting it started to following it through with the work you have to do on your own.”

Senior Patrol Leader Niko Paiz, 17, was Michael’s main competition last year for total merit badges earned. He earned 18, one more than Michael. Niko, an Eagle Scout as well, said he was impressed by the stiff competition Michael provided.

“This troop doesn’t limit anyone just because of their age,” Niko said. “The only limit that I would say is if you want to take the job, are you willing to do it?”

Michael has always been eager to take on new responsibilities in the troop. It has become his way to find his place in the troop and be recognized by his fellow Scouts, Mr. Morehouse said. The Boy Scouts is a place for Michael to feel confident and comfortable.

At first, it didn’t come easily for him. As most first-year Scouts do, he struggled to find his place. Mr. Morehouse described Michael as a quiet boy who rarely spoke, even when asked to talk. His difficulties were like that of most new Boy Scouts, Mr. Morehouse said.

“They’re little kids,” he said. “They’re sitting there looking up at 16- and 17-year-olds who … seem to know everything that you need to know. It’s kind of intimidating for them.”

Michael is still soft-spoken, but he’s at ease when he takes charge. As chief of the Prince George’s County Chapter of the Order of the Arrow - an honor society for Scouts - Michael can confidently take the lead in a meeting and work diligently behind the scenes to make preparations for approximately 300 members from troops all across the county.

There seems to be little left for Michael to accomplish within the Scouts, but he has his sights set on a few more goals. He wants to be a senior patrol leader, like Niko, and he may pursue a larger role in the Order of the Arrow, Mr. Morehouse said.

“He knows exactly what he wants to do and how he wants to do it,” Niko said. “He has a lot of potential.”

• Ben Giles attends the University of Maryland.

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