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Sixth brother earns Boy Scouts’ highest honor

All six Loughman boys have earned the rank of Eagle Scout over the years. They are, from left, back row: Nick, 31, and Paul, 20; middle row: Philip, 29, and Ben, 32; front row: Joe, 17, and Charlie, 35. COURTESY PHOTO

by Dean Backes
Special to The Leaven

OVERLAND PARK — Joe Loughman’s perseverance paid off last month, sending his family into Boy Scout lore after he became the sixth of six Loughman boys to earn Eagle Scout status.

In order to claim his 21st merit badge and attain the highest rank a Scout can achieve, the 17-year-old Loughman did his daily good turn by treating parents Barb and Steve and sister Mara to three open-fire meals of hamburgers, tacos and peach cobbler.

Loughman also cooked at Philmont Boy Scout camp in New Mexico several years earlier, and backpacked freeze-dried beef stroganoff. Due to COVID, however, it took Loughman — a junior at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Overland Park — several years to earn that final badge.

“It felt like I accomplished something that not very many people accomplish,” Loughman said. “It is rare for people to say they’re an Eagle Scout. It’s something that I’ll have with me for the rest of my life.”

Although he isn’t an avid hunter, Loughman said he enjoyed earning his rifle shooting and archery badges. He also reveled in sitting around a campfire and listening to stories.

“The funny stories that came out,” Loughman recalled of his campouts at Philmont, “that’s when you really got to meet people. When you’re sitting around a campfire, you see who everybody is.”

Loughman’s oldest brother Charlie, 35, kicked off two decades of Scouting excellence for the Loughman family when he joined Lenexa’s Holy Trinity Church Cub Scout Troop 3181 as a youngster. Charlie began his climb through the ranks by becoming a Lion Cub. He then moved onto Bobcat, Tiger, Wolf, Bear, Webelos and Arrow of Light.

Ben, 32, Nick, 31, and 29-year-old Philip began their Cub Scout fun shortly before Charlie was getting ready to transition into Holy Trinity Boy Scout Troop 181. Charlie soon became a Scout before moving onto Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life and Eagle Scout.

Paul, 20, now an industrial engineering student and a junior at Kansas State University in Manhattan, took his place in the Loughman Scouting lineage about three years before Joe who also plays football, basketball and baseball for the Saints.

“I’ve since realized that we’re doing these things for other people,” Paul said of his Scouting experience. “If you’re not doing things for others, then you’re not really bettering yourself and you’re not bettering the community, especially our faith communities.”

Nationally, less than 6% of all Scouts reach Eagle Scout status. At Holy Trinity, however, 80% of participants climb the ranks all the way to the top.

Ned Smith, who served as Scoutmaster earlier in Joe and Paul’s Scouting journeys, has known the Loughman family for nearly a quarter of a century. He sees Scouting fitting well with his Catholic faith.

“The words of the oath, for example, read: ‘On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country.’ . . . I think those are words to live by in our faith as well as in everyday life,” he said.

In order to achieve Eagle Scout status, Joe and any other Scout must earn at least 21 merit badges, including required badges in first aid, citizenship in the community, citizenship in society, citizenship in the nation, citizenship in the world, communication and cooking.

Eagle Scouts must also attain a merit badge in personal fitness; emergency preparedness or lifesaving; environmental science or sustainability; personal management; swimming, hiking or cycling; camping; and family life. A Scout then selects seven other merit badges to earn from a list of 124.

While the Loughmans have been leaders at Holy Trinity Church and in the Scouting community, they are certainly not alone. In the very same parish, both Doug and Kathleen Feist and Randy and Margaret Smith are the proud parents of  six and five Eagle Scouts, respectively, through Holy Trinity’s Scouting program.

Barb Loughman served as den mother for some of her boys while Steve, a former Scout himself, was a cubmaster, scoutmaster and a Webelo leader several times over. Both parents shared many camping trips, bonfires and trips to the pinewood derby track with their sons and daughters Ellen, Meg and Mara who all earned silver awards in Girl Scouts.

The family of 11 designed and built more than 40 pinewood derby cars over the years and even helped other boys create their own. The Loughmans took first place once and had at least one third-place finish to go along with a few creativity awards.

“I think it’s a great way for a boy and his parents to interact and become a little closer because of the shared activities, the laughter and the fun that they have with all of the different Scouting activities,” Steve Loughman said.

Barb Loughman, meanwhile, said Scouting is a program that can be enjoyed by all.

“Scouting is a great program that anyone can be a part of,” she said. “You don’t have to be smart. You don’t necessarily have to be an athlete. There is no real criteria that makes you a good Scout. You just have to have the willingness to get involved and want to have fun and learn new things.”

About the author

The Leaven

The Leaven is the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.

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