Last year, only 7 percent of all Boy Scouts achieved the organization’s highest honor — the Eagle Scout rank. Yet, fraternal twin brothers Joseph Nystrom II and Jonathan Nystrom will officially earn that final badge — even though they’ll only be able to wear it for six days.
“The ceremony is on Sept. 20, but our birthday is on Sept. 26,” said Joseph, who is two minutes older than his brother. “Once we turn 18, we won’t be able to wear it.”
The Nystrom brothers will actually become second-generation Eagle Scouts, following in the footsteps of their father, Dr. Joseph Nystrom, a family practice doctor in Zephyrhills. They each earned at least 21 merit badges, served six months in a troop leadership position, and planned a project that will leave a lasting legacy in the community.
Joseph wrapped up his project a few weeks ago, constructing a landscaping project, volleyball court and a bench at his family’s church, St. Rita Catholic Church in Dade City. Jonathan got his project going much earlier, building a portable fishing storage unit for the Teneroc Youth Conservation Center in Lakeland late last year.
“This summer camp program had 260 fishing rods in a shed that just wasn’t organized at all,” Jonathan said. “They wanted me to build some way to hold all of them, and store them, and be transportable. It took me three months, but it’s made out of steel, and that thing is going to last 20 years.”
Joseph’s project kept him a little closer to home, paying close attention to a neighboring religious school building that needed some attention.
“Surrounding the CCD building is a whole bunch of shrubbery, and it didn’t look very good,” Joseph said. “I decided I wanted to redo it. But then the church’s Life Teen group wanted something for kids to do while they waited for their families at church, and asked for volleyball posts and stuff, so I built that, too.”
Both decided to wait for the official Eagle ceremony so that they could do it together. The brothers are part of Boy Scout Troop 311, which meets in San Antonio. They both started as Cub Scouts, working their way up.
“We made really good friends in the troop, and there are a lot of good people there,” Joseph said.
“You are responsible for helping the troop grow, and you want to help out and make it a better troop,” Jonathan said. “You really appreciate the skills you learn in Scouts.”
Since joining the Boy Scouts in 2008, Jonathan has earned 29 merit badges, and was admitted to the Order of the Arrow — the national honor society of Boy Scouts — in March 2013. Joseph also has a place in Order of the Arrow, and earned 21 merit badges.
They both have stories for each one of their badges — but not all of them are good.
“My personal management badge was the worst,” Joseph said with a laugh. “That was three months of keeping track of receipts and money. I am just horrible at paperwork, so it was the last thing I wanted to do.”
But there are some fun badges as well, including ones that allowed the two to go whitewater rafting in North Carolina.
“We went down all these different rivers, and some were super dangerous, which made it 10 times more fun,” Joseph said. “A couple of times, they had to shut down parts of the Chattooga River because it was that bad.”
Another trip took the two to Minnesota where they rowed 132 miles in a canoe.
Joseph and Jonathan are seniors at Pasco High School, where Joseph is on the swim team, and Jonathan a right fielder with the baseball team. Both are in dual enrollment, taking classes with Pasco-Hernando State College, and neither has really started to look at colleges yet.
“We’re thinking about the University of South Florida,” Jonathan said. “We’re still trying to plan things out.”
“Yeah,” Joseph said. “We need to start applying fast.”
The Eagle Scout ceremony will take place in the St. Anthony of Padua parish hall in San Antonio Sept. 20 at 2 p.m.
Published September 10, 2014
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