by Susan Mikula Campbell
Only two kids out of every 100 who go into Scouting win its highest honor, Eagle Scout.
The Gurnett brothers of Wheatfield have both collected the award.
This year on June 20 at Don Miller Park in North Tonawanda, it was Daniel Gurnett, 18, who followed his older brother Christopher into the Eagle Scout ranks.
It was an exciting week for Daniel, who graduated from Starpoint High School the next day.
He can't say enough in praise of Scouting.
"It makes you a better person. It's a great thing to go through," he said. "It made me who I am today."
As he goes on to Niagara County Community College to study computer science, then on to a four-year school and then to the world of work, he expects having Eagle Scout on his resume to give him an extra boost.
"It shows dedication and how much time and effort you put into things," he said.
It all started when Daniel was 7 and his dad talked him into becoming a Tiger Cub. He made a lot of new friends and enjoyed the different activities offered, so decided to continue into Boy Scouts. When he was 11, he joined Troop 184 out of St. Paul's Church in North Tonawanda. There, in addition to making friends and enjoying camping trips, he's learned new skills, such as time management and leadership, to help him in the future.
"Both of my boys are kind and considerate. It's part of the Scouting law that they live," said their dad, Michael Gurnett, who volunteers as a Scout leader. "A lot of kids nowadays don't have people skills."
The road to Eagle Scout isn't easy.
Daniel earned 36 merit badges. His Eagle Scout project was to raise money for paint and supplies and put a second coat of paint on Greater Niagara Falls Church of God in Wheatfield. It took four Saturdays and the help of several other volunteers to complete the project.
The project required helping the community. "I thought what better place to do it than the church I've been going to," Daniel said.
His brother, who became an Eagle Scout in 2009, cleaned the fourth floor of the Buffalo Central Terminal for his Eagle Scout project.
It's obvious that Daniel cares about other people. As a Scout, he's shoveled driveways for several neighbors who are senior citizens and kept watch on their homes while they were away on vacation.
He awarded the Scouting Mother Pin to his cousin Suzie Keitz, who is always available to support him. The Mentor Pin went to Pam Labushesky of North Tonawanda, who went out of her way to help him with Scouting needs, such as sewing on patches on his uniform. Her own son, Chris, a best friend of Daniel, also became an Eagle Scout on June 20.
Daniel has been employed in customer service at Budwey's Supermarket in North Tonawanda for two years. His father likes to tell the story of how owner Frank Budwey spotted Daniel in the parking lot on a windy day "chasing down a piece of paper like it was a $100 bill."
"It made me so proud when he (Budwey) made a point to tell me about it," Michael Gurnett said.