In December, ten Ismaili Muslim Boy Scouts in Texas earned the prestigious Eagle Scout Award for performing outstanding community service that demonstrated initiative, commitment to help those in need, and extraordinary leadership skills. This prestigious rank is achieved by only five per cent of all Boy Scouts in the United States.

People most commonly remember their scouting experiences for their fun camps, the skills they learnt and the discipline that the movement instils. However, a select group of boys who have the opportunity to call themselves Eagle Scouts can attest that scouting is much more than that. It is about creating leaders.

On 20 December 2009, ten scouts from the Boy Scout Troop 758 of Carrollton, Texas, were recognised at the Eagle Scout Court of Honor, which was held at the Ismaili Jamatkhana in Plano, Texas. This prestigious rank is achieved by only five per cent of all Boy Scouts nationally.

Attaining the Eagle Scout rank is very difficult because leadership and inner motivation are required from the scouts in order to complete their projects and meet various requirements. The troop had to consider where their services may be required; whether their efforts would be best spent building bookshelves for a local school or in designing a community garden, for example. While the success of the troop was due in part to the countless hours of support from their parents and other volunteers, it also required a demonstration of hard work, initiative and leadership qualities on the part of the scouts themselves.

Rahim Hemani, of Colleyville, Texas, designed an outdoor kitchen for the AIDS Services of Dallas as part of his Eagle Scout project, to increase the efficiency of food service. In the future, the kitchen can also be used for fundraisers, activities, meetings, and supper clubs.

Though inexperienced at building such a project, Rahim was undaunted by the challenge. He wrote that he went to “various sources to understand and learn how to do these things so that he could teach others to do them.” He also hoped to show his younger scouting brothers how to lead, and sought to inspire them to do the same.

Noting the similarities between the Abrahamic religions and motivated by Mawlana Hazar Imam's guidance about building bridges with other faiths, Kamron Hakemy and 25 other volunteers, chose to reach out to communities by creating a six-foot by four-foot Celtic cross to be hung in the prayer auditorium of the Christ Our King Church, in Southlake, Texas.

Hakemy's project stemmed from being surrounded by many faiths throughout his life. He hopes that his project will bring greater understanding and awareness about the Muslim community and showcase their true ideals and belief sets.

Hakemy and Hemani are only two among several who set out to complete Eagle Scout projects. Other Ismaili Texans who achieved the Eagle Scout rank this year include Ali Patel, Haaris Pradhan, and Shohaib Virani, who built benches, bookshelves and podiums, landscaped green spaces, and re-organised rooms for schools in Carrollton. Rahil Nathani and Aamir Hashimbhai designed community gardens and built beds, benches, picnic tables, and compost bins for the Green Acres Memorial Farm in the city of Flower Mound. Riaz Jiwani designed benches and sand-tables for kindergarteners at North Hills Preparatory School in Irving; Naveed Jooma constructed display cases and easel-stands for a public library in Carrollton and Shamaz Hooda reinforced the dirt floor with concrete and repaired fences at the Dallas Heritage Village.

The Eagle Scout award ceremony does not merely mark the completion of their projects – it welcomes growth and learning. Shair Baz Hakemy, President of the Ismaili Council for Afghanistan – whose son was among those receiving the award – was present at the event and addressed the audience. He remarked that “by achieving this rank, the scouts are well-equipped to help those who are less fortunate and live in different parts of the world.”

Congressman Pete Sessions of Dallas, Texas was the keynote speaker at the occasion. An Eagle Scout himself, the Congressman comes from a family with four generations of Boy Scouts.

“The trail of the Eagle does not stop here,” said Congressman Sessions, applauding the proud new Eagle Scouts. He implored them “to lead with your experiences from this achievement.”