Medford Scout perseveres to Eagle

Despite initially being denied Eagle Scout status, Gannon Sloves did not give up.

He put in the time and the work, but after 10 years of participation in the Boy Scouts of America, Medford resident Gannon Sloves was denied the rank of Eagle Scout last June.

But after more than six months of appeals and waiting, Sloves was finally approved as an Eagle Scout last month.

Back in 2009, Sloves was a fifth-grade student who, like most 10-year-olds, had more than enough time on his hands to become involved in the Boy Scouts. As a part of Troop 26, he enjoyed working toward merit badges, and even earned the role of assistant patrol leader from age 13 to 15.

Although toward the end of his high school career he became heavily involved in track and field, kept up with schoolwork and started an after-school job, Sloves decided to get back on track to achieve status as an Eagle Scout once he turned 17. In doing so, he rushed to obtain all 21 merit badges and plan his obligatory Eagle Scout project.

In preparation for his endeavor, the then Shawnee High School senior, who is now a freshman at Rowan College at Burlington County, met with Medford Township officials and found a community project in need of completion. This project entailed completely renovating the garden in front of the municipal building.

After meeting with township architect/landscaper Scott Taylor of Taylor Design Group Inc., Sloves laid the groundwork for his project and drafted a proposal he then sent to the Garden State Council of the Boy Scouts of America for executive approval. Once approved, the Scout began raising funds for the renovation and gathered many supplies and donations from local businesses and residents.

While most Eagle Scout projects span the course of two or three days, Sloves’ project took a month to complete. He began his work in the beginning of November 2015 and finished by the month’s end.

Upon completion, Sloves’ next steps toward achieving Eagle Scout status was to submit his final project to the Garden State Council to verify he had met all of the organization’s standards, and to the township to ensure the project fulfilled its expectations. Both approved.

Lastly, Sloves had to sit in front of his troop leaders for a “Board of Review,” where the representatives interview the Scout about his experience to determine if he is eligible to become an Eagle Scout. It was at this meeting on June 22, 2016, that Sloves was denied approval, for his troop leaders determined his lack of participation and inactivity in the troop since age 15 deemed him ineligible.

“Because of my schedule with school, sports and my job, I was unable to attend troop meetings,” Sloves said. “I felt defeated, and I was upset because I devoted 8 years of my life toward obtaining this rank.”

Despite this setback, Sloves was soon after informed he could begin an appeals process, giving him a second shot at obtaining the rank of Eagle Scout. He began this process by writing a letter in response to his troop leaders’ verdict.

“After careful consideration and inner reflection, while I understand why the board may have reached this decision, I do not agree with it,” Sloves wrote.

Strongly believing his inactivity in Boy Scouts was validated by his other responsibilities, Sloves additionally cited a section of the Boy Scouts of America Guide to Advancements entitled “Active Participation.” In this section, it explained that “If a young man has fallen below his unit’s activity-oriented expectations, then it must be due to other positive endeavors — in or out of Scouting — or due to noteworthy circumstances that have prevented a higher level of participation.”

In review of his letter, the Garden State Council unanimously voted in Sloves’ favor and informed him last August that they would be moving forward with his application. From there, the Garden State Council informed the National Boy Scouts of America of Gannon’s approval, and he received national recognition in the mail on Thursday, Jan. 19.

“Anyone in a similar situation as mine should do what you need to do. If you worked hard to become an Eagle Scout and you know you deserve it, absolutely go forward with the appeal decision,” Sloves said. “Although lengthy, my decision to appeal was worth it.”