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Young men make Eagle

Nolan Voss, left, and Nick Arnold received their Eagle rank after completing their Eagle Scout projects. Both Voss and Arnold started as Cub Scouts in first grade and continued on to Boy Scouts in the sixth grade. (Brittney Lohmiller \ The Natchez Democrat)
Nolan Voss, left, and Nick Arnold received their Eagle rank after completing their Eagle Scout projects. Both Voss and Arnold started as Cub Scouts in first grade and continued on to Boy Scouts in the sixth grade. (Brittney Lohmiller \ The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — Two young men from Natchez are no longer boys. They’re Eagles.

Nicholas Arnold and Nolan Voss, both 18, were honored at St. Mary Basilica Sunday with an Eagle Scout Court of Honor, something only four percent of those who start scouting with the Boy Scouts of America achieve.

Eagle Scout is the highest rank one can attain in the Boy Scouts and requires earning at least 21 merit badges, demonstrating a dedication to the Boy Scout spirit and completing a community service project.

Arnold’s project was to erect a flagpole at the Foster Mound Volunteer Fire Station, while Voss repaired a gate and put down gravel on a trail connected to the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians.

Arnold and Voss started the experience together in the first grade, when they joined Cub Scouts and Arnold’s mother — Sherra — was troop leader. When they made the transition to Boy Scouts in the sixth grade, they learned together about duty to God and country under Troop 158 Scoutmaster Freddie Voss, Nolan’s grandfather, and with a group of three other Scouts their age are part of a group who informally refer to themselves as the “Fearless Five.”

Though Nicholas ultimately saw the program through to Eagle Scout, he wasn’t always enthusiastic about it. For the first Cub Scout campout, he begged his mother to let him stay home.

“I told him, ‘I am the troop leader, I can’t go without my son,’” Sherra said. “At the end of the campout, when we were in the car leaving, he turned to me and said, ‘Mom, this was the best weekend of my life.’”

Even though Nicholas’ service project seems simple enough — it was just putting up a flagpole — it took a lot of work beforehand, he said.

“I had to call about 40 people to get the ground checked for lines to get a flag pole,” he said.

And the pole he picked was heavy — a 25-foot oilfield pipe that had to be set, not once but twice. Seeking to see if the hole in which the flagpole would be set was deep enough, Nicolas and several other volunteers raised it only to realize the pulley system wasn’t mounted and was still sitting on the ground.

The second time they raised the pole, the group was able to catch it in time before it was hefted upright without the pull rope.

“We did it twice, but it should have been once,” Nicholas said.

Nolan’s project, though horizontal rather than vertical, also taught the scout a lesson in manual labor.

“We filled my granddad’s truck with gravel three times, and I got to unload all of it,” he said.

But Nolan is a third generation Eagle Scout, and being a scout has been natural for him, he said.

“I’ve always enjoyed the outdoors and stuff like that,” he said. “I am proud of being (a third generation Eagle Scout). It is a big accomplishment, and I certainly didn’t want to be the one to break the line.”

Both Scouts are in their senior year at Cathedral School. Nolan has plans to enroll in petroleum engineering at LSU, while Nicholas plans to study accounting at the University of Mississippi.

Nolan is the son of Van Voss and Melissa Phillips.

Nicholas is the son of Peter and Sherra Arnold.

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