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Near life-long Plum City Scout now soaring as Eagle

PLUM CITY--John Burg was convinced after advancing through three Boy Scout ranks he could become an Eagle.

After all, achieving Scouting's highest honor would just mean more of the commitment he'd already made. By the time he reached the decision three years ago, he'd demonstrated many of the needed skills, earned a significant number of the required badges and performed a considerable amount of the expected community service, Burg said Wednesday.

"You start going through the different ranks and keep working your way up," he said.

The 17-year-old son of Ray and Michele Burg of Plum City recalled each of his advances to the Star and Life ranks took at least six months. He'd especially done a lot of community service, helping at the local care center, putting up holiday lights at the local Duck Pond and assisting other Eagles with their projects, including painting picnic tables and, for his now-20-year-old brother, Josh, cutting honeysuckle at Nugget Lake.

But it wasn't a matter of older brother inspiring younger brother, said the member of the Order of the Arrow.

"I got Josh involved (with Scouts)," he said.

As for badges, the younger Burg son said his first was for first aid and a favorite was for photography. He took pictures of people as well as nature, and learned how to frame. Another memorable one meant going out on a rifle range.

"It took me a few tries to get that one," he remembered, explaining five shots from a distance of 20 yards all had to touch a quarter. Others ranged from orientation to physical fitness badges; his Scoutmaster and merit badge counselor were authorized to either approve or deny them.

The local native was influenced to originally join Scouts by a neighbor and friend, he said. He was initially a Wolf, attending pack meetings at Plum City's Legion hall. There were games and activities, the best of which for him was going door-to-door selling popcorn. Such sales raised funds for his attendance at camps like where he'd later take on those badge challenges.

He went to Camp Tomahawk near Birchwood five times, he said. Spending a week every time at the big reservation, he had access to swimming, horses, archery, the rifle range and more. Attended by hundreds of Scouts, the camp was divided into four sub-camps.

On a trip to Navajo camp with his dad, Burg witnessed a sight he wouldn't forget.

"We saw three bears...a mother and two cubs," he said, suspecting the animals were on a path they followed every year.

Read more in the print version of the Herald Aug. 20.