A Scouting Family: Advancement is About More than Rank

This blog post is the first of two about a local Scouting family. Mike and Elizabeth Blackburn and their two grown children, Julia and Chris, have all been involved in the Scouting program at various times in their lives.

Elizabeth Blackburn wasn’t going to let the young man fail to finish what he started.

He had been away from their Boy Scout troop, living with a brother in California. Upon his return to North Carolina, Elizabeth decided to give him a little push.

“I said, ‘Look at the clock, you still have time to make Eagle,’” she says. “I plotted it out. ‘If you do this by then and this by then, you can make it.’ Two days before his 18th birthday, he turned in his Eagle book.

“Now he’s in the Army,” she says. “He told me, ‘Thank you. I understand now.’”

Eagle -UNC, Eagle -UNCG, Eagle-Marine, ME, Soon to be Eagle-accepted to UNC, Eagle- Army.
Pictured are Eagle Scouts and one soon to be Eagle Scouts from Troop 55.  Their moms could not attend family night at scout camp, so Elizabeth was mom for the night.

Elizabeth had just done the same with her own son Chris. “I said, ‘You’re so close, you’ve got to finish,’” she remembers. “It wasn’t that he wanted to stop, he was just dragging his feet.”

Her role as advancement chair displays Elizabeth’s deep commitment to helping others. “Our boys from our troop feel like our family,” she says. Guiding them toward success – however that looks for them – keeps her coming back now that her own children have entered adulthood.

Her family knows firsthand how the Scouting program has helped them all grow, develop, and advance.

Mike and Elizabeth Blackburn

As a youth, her husband Mike achieved the rank of Life Scout. Elizabeth participated in a service-oriented, co-ed fraternity founded on the principles of the Scouting program. When they married and had children, their shared love of the outdoors – and those Scouting values — overflowed.


“We had always been interested in hiking, camping, biking, all of that kind of stuff,” says Elizabeth. “We started taking our kids hiking and camping when they were young.”

Those outings provided ample opportunities to teach lessons and responsibility while enjoying time together. When their son Chris asked to join the Boy Scouts following an invitation from a friend, it was a natural fit. Elizabeth joined in, too, assisting the troop in various capacities.

“They learn so much,” Elizabeth says. “They learn how to take care of things and the value of life. My husband says, ‘I remember how to do this, I learned it in the Scouts!’ It’s amazing the stuff he’s still using.”

Chris when he was tagged out for OA
Chris when he was tapped out for OA
chris working on prject
Chris and his dad working on his Eagle project










Chris and Mike have applied those lessons together on annual summer trips, Elizabeth shares. “My husband and son have spent 5 years hiking sections of the Appalachian Trail,” she says. “They just walk and talk and connect through that.”

Julia teaching in Handicraft
Julia teaching in Handicraft

Chris and his older sister Julia have also bonded through Scouting. She worked at Camp Cherokee for 2 summers, one while Chris was a camper and the next when he became a counselor in training. “It really made my kids close,” Elizabeth says. (For more on Julia’s story, watch for part 2 of this blog post coming soon.)

What Scouting has provided for the Blackburns, they want others to experience, too. Life skills, lifelong memories, and a sense of achievement are all within reach no matter the rank.

Sometimes all you need is a little push.


Here is our Foreign Exchange Student - Johannes from Germany He enjoyed scouts so much. He said it was his favorite thing about coming to America
Troop 55 Foreign Exchange Student – Johannes from Germany. He enjoyed scouts so much he said it was his favorite thing about coming to America.

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