Not many people can say they started climbing mountains at 6 years old. But for one boy, the early training brought him closer to the outdoors and to the rank of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts.
Soren Laney, 15, of Camas Valley has attained the rank, the highest among Scouts, and was honored June 30 by friends, family and members of Troop 225.
Laney’s father, Hyrum Laney, started “dragging him up the mountains in Oregon and California when he was 6 years old,” said Soren’s mother, Nancy Laney. “Scouting was a very natural attraction after that.”
The Roseburg High School sophomore joined the program in the first grade as a Cub Scout and progressed to Boy Scout by age 12.
He said he joined the Scouts because it offers future advantages in building a career.
“It shows you’re engaged in the community,” Soren Laney said.
Now nine years into the program, Soren Laney has earned 28 merit badges, 21 of those counted toward his Eagle rank. His favorite is the Hiking Merit Badge, naturally.
Last year, the troop did a 75-mile hike in 10 days at Philmont, a high-adventure Scout camp in New Mexico. He also hiked 100 miles of the John Muir Trail in Yosemite National Park in 2011.
“It’s crazy how beautiful it is,” Soren Laney said, referring to the mountain hikes. “You have to have a lot of mental fitness.”
In order to achieve Eagle rank, Soren Laney had to propose and complete a community service project.
He was interested in trail maintenance, so he called the U.S. Forest Service. There were two projects at the Toketee Ranger Station that were going to be contracted out, so he offered to take one at Clearwater Falls on Highway 138 near Diamond Lake. He spearheaded the building of a 110-foot fence and moved three heavy-duty picnic benches to the day use area.
The fence was needed to deter people from cutting through an area between a parking lot to a trail, which had been causing erosion, Soren Laney explained.
He worked with Miguel Amat y Leon at the Toketee Ranger Station to develop a plan for the two-day project. The two, along with about 22 volunteers, went up on Sept. 26 to get the materials that the Forest Service provided and camped at the park.
After the completion of his project, Soren Laney had to go before an Eagle Scout Board of Review on May 22. He told the panel of four about his career aspirations, Scouting accomplishments, hobbies and activities. The panel deliberated and gave its approval.
Now that he has reached Eagle rank, Soren Laney said he probably won’t be as active as he has been, but will stay involved in the program. He said he wants to work with younger Scouts. In fact, his 9-year-old brother, Bryson, is following in his footsteps.
In the approaching school year, Soren Laney wants to set his sights on extracurricular activities, including wrestling, lacrosse and cross country.
“(Scouts) has given him a lot of confidence that he can do whatever he sets his mind to,” Nancy Laney said.
After high school, Soren Laney plans to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He also wants to join the Marines and pursue a degree in architecture.
• Reporter Jessica Prokop can be reached at 541-957-4209 and email@example.com.