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Eagle Scout carries on family tradition

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Sunday, June 16, 2013, at 6:43 p.m.

Joey Attwater, 18, is pretty prepared.

After receiving his Eagle Scout honors at Hillside Christian Church last month, he joined his three brothers and father in the elite Scouting group.

“I definitely felt I needed to get it done,” Attwater said. “There were some big shoes to fill.”

His brothers – Patrick, 26, Nick, 24, and Tom, 23 – all went through the Scouting program before Joey.

“All the work that went into it makes it worthwhile,” said their father, Paul, who earned his Eagle Scout honor in 1977.

Over the years, the family has gone on many different campouts, including one cave trip to Oklahoma where they had to crawl through spaces about 3 feet tall with a foot of mud underneath. This love of the outdoors – along with a little “fatherly leverage,” Paul Attwater said – is what pushed the Attwaters to finish Scouting, they said.

“Growing up in suburban Wichita, I didn’t have a lot of access to trails and wildlife,” Tom Attwater said. “Scouting is the foundation for a lot of the outdoor activities I’ve done.”

After working as a zipline tour guide in Alaska and a ski lift operator in Montana and spending a semester of sea kayaking and backpacking in Australia and New Zealand, Tom Attwater definitely knows how to pitch a tent.

Now, he says, the biggest challenge is staying put.

“I’ve lived a pretty adventurous life, but I make a huge sacrifice not to be able to see my family very often,” Tom Attwater said.

None of the Attwater sons, except Joey, lives less than six hours from home.

Patrick Attwater works in the solar industry in St. Louis. In Detroit, Nick Attwater teaches schoolchildren as part of the Teach for America program, which places teachers in struggling schools and neighborhoods. Tom Attwater is in Missoula, Mont.

While they were all together, the family went on trips to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico as well as other locations in the region. Paul Attwater said the trips helped them stay close as a family.

“It was a great opportunity to do something with my sons on a regular basis,” Paul Attwater said. “While it was hard work, it was still a lot of fun.”

“I never felt that there was this huge age gap, not like I felt when we went to school,” Joey Attwater said of his older brothers. “They were more like mentors more than anything, people that I could look up to.”

It was an emotional day at Joey Attwater’s Eagle Scout Court of Honor ceremony. Though he finished his requirements in December, he decided to hold off on the ceremony until his brothers could attend.

Tom Attwater said returning to Wichita to stand on the stage with all of his brothers was “probably the proudest moment of my life.”

“To be on stage with all my brothers ultimately stands much higher on my list of proud moments than any adventure I’ve been on,” he said. “For me to travel across the country and come back to Wichita, to be that close to my family – it’s going to have an everlasting impact on my life.”

Reach Matt Riedl at 316-269-6791 or mriedl@wichitaeagle.com.

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