When Nick Pingel was 12, he joined the Boy Scouts, and he has been involved since.
“At first my dad kind of made me join, but as I got more involved I found out it was worth it,” said Pingel.
In fact, he got so involved, Pingel joined an elite group of Boy Scouts who have earned the top honor – the Eagle award. While Pingel has not yet gone through the official ceremony to be presented his Eagle award, he said he has done all that is required of him to be added to the list of those who have become Eagle Scouts.
Pingel, who lives in Belview, met those requirements as a member of Boy Scout Troop 97, and completed the service project required to earn the award in his hometown.
In fact, the project is literally feet away from his front door.
Pingel, who lives on the north side of Belview, looked outside of his house and saw the sign which then stood welcoming people to the community.
“The sign was where that dead patch is right up there,” Pingel said, pointing a few feet to the south of the sign he worked to erect. “After the storm (the July 2011 tornado) the top of the sign had been ripped off.”
The sign was in need of repair, and so Pingel made it his mission to get that done as he worked to accomplish the goal that kept him in the Boy Scouts.
“I really wanted to become an Eagle Scout,” said Pingel, adding his older brother, Tom, had earned his Eagle award and he wanted to follow in his footsteps.
As a member of a Boy Scout Troop, Pingel was able to take part in a variety of activities and to take on various leadership roles, all which culminated in the Eagle Scout project.
“It is a lot of work and takes a lot of time,” said Pingel, adding, however, in the end he believes all of the hard work is worth it.
In addition to completing his project, Pingel had to earn a number of badges as a member of the Scouts, with each of those badges representing a skill that helps make Scouts more well-rounded individuals.
Those who plan to pursue the Eagle Scout award must earn a minimum of 21 badges that range in topic from swimming to communication, and along the way must earn other ranks including that of Life Scout.
In the six years Pingel has been in the Scouts he has earned more than 40 badges. Among those badges are some he said were easy, while others posed some challenges.
“I liked earning the life saving badge,” Pingel said. “It was a challenge for me, and I like to be challenged.”
Page 2 of 2 - One of the hardest badges for Pingel was the wilderness badge, but he added that was his fault.
“When we went out for our survival activity, I forgot my sleeping bag,” he said, adding by the end he is pretty sure he had hypothermia.
Pingel’s efforts to construct the new sign meant meeting with different groups to get the approvals he needed, as well as the financial support required.
To honor the military, the welcome sign includes flags representing each branch of the military, as well as a POW/MIA flag to go with the American and Minnesota flags. Each of the flags was sponsored, and Pingel said he plans to add a plaque recognizing those who supported the project.
Other supplies for the project were financed by the Belview American Legion and Legion Auxiliary.
Friends, family and fellow Scouts helped Pingel ac-complish the physical work.
Pingel recently graduated from ECHO Charter School, and said he is planning to enter the military.
“I would like to be accepted into the Coast Guard,” he said. “I like the idea of being able to help save people.”
That attitude reflects the kind of impact being a member of the Boy Scouts has had on Pingel’s life.