Courtesy of the Times-Georgian
A Carrollton teen is exchanging one uniform for another.
Joseph Charles Robinson, 17, earned his Eagle Scout ranking after six dedicated years in Boy Scout Troop 39, led by Troop Leader Lisa Chandler. He will be 18 in two weeks.
Robinson, who recently graduated from Carrollton High School last May, has joined the Army National Guard and leaves for basic combat training in Fort Jackson, located in Columbia, S.C. on Monday, July 18.
Following Robinson’s basic combat training, he will attend advanced individual training (AIT) for 16 weeks to gain more knowledge on how to perform his assigned duty as a Signal Support System Specialist.
Since earning his Eagle Scout ranking, Robinson will enter the Army National Guard ranked as a Private First Class which is a paygrade E-3 instead of the typical private E-1 grade that most individuals start with when beginning their military career.
“That allows me to get a little bit of extra money with my paychecks and just a higher rank. So that’s really great,” Robinson said.
Robinson began his boy scout career in Troop 138 during his sixth grade year of middle school in 2016 when a friend asked him to tag along to a boy scout meeting one day. According to Robinson, other friends were invited, but he was the only one that attended.
“My friend Ben got me to come to one of the meetings at Troop 138. I actually switched troops. But he asked me at lunch if I would come to a meeting. He invited me and my other friend, and I remember, I was the only one that went that day. I ended up just having a great time at the meeting, and I really felt like I fit in. So I ended up staying in the troop,” Robinson said.
In approximately 2018, around Robinson’s eighth grade year, he switched from Troop 138 to his current Troop 39 because he thought it was better fit for the goals he wanted to accomplish as a boy scout.
“I had a lot more friends in Troop 39 that were kind of encouraging me to join their troop. I felt like Troop 39 was going to be a little bit more productive for me and just work better … It was a good call,” Robinson said.
An Eagle Scout is the highest rank a scout can achieve. To reach this level of rank, an individual must earn at least 21 merit badges, fulfill leadership roles, display outdoor skills, lead by example under the Scout Oath and Law, and while a Life Scout serve six months in troop leadership position, per Atlanta Area Council of Boy Scouts of America, where Robinson had to visit for his Eagle Scout board of review.
Prior to becoming an Eagle Scout, Robinson moved up in rank over the years in order from Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life and finally Eagle.
Robinson held a couple of different leadership positions which were earned through elections. According to Robinson, elections are every six months and occur during PLC meetings, which is “basically just planning.”
In 2019, he was elected to be a senior patrol leader and later that same year he became a troop guide.
“So you have the senior patrol leader, one person gets that. Then they appoint an assistant when they’re elected. You also have individual patrol leaders that are under the senior patrol leader and the assistant who lead each patrol in the troop,” Robinson said. “For a time I was the SPL, which is the senior patrol leader of the troop. He kind of helps direct all the different patrols of the troop, leads all the meetings and he’s just the general I guess overseer of the whole troop like on a scout level. I was also a troop guide after that. A troop guide kind of assists in you know, teaching some of the younger scouts and kind of aiding them with breakups and whatever they need to know and camp out and just being an older scout and having more tenure in the program. Troop guide was just a way that you could be a role model and get back to the troop.”
When Robinson began his Eagle Scout project, he wanted to do a literacy project which included giving books to patients that were in Tanner Medical Center so that they could read them and take them home.
He collected over 700 books from friends, families and members of Daughters of American Revolution. But, when the Covid-19 pandemic arrived, the hospital needed all of its space for patient care, which ended Robinson’s initial Eagle Scout project.
He did not quit, but instead came with an idea to add flagpoles to Bethany Christian Church. His troop leader coordinated the project with Senior Chief John Dickerson, a member of the veterans committee at Bethany Christian Church, after Dickerson had a similar idea the same day that was pitched to Chandler.
“I believe that God’s plan is in play here as the same thought came at almost the same time from two different directions,” Langley’s letter said.
Robinson had to process his permission request though Eagle Scout rules. With input from his Eagle Scout Touchstone, he was required to seek approval from the pastor of Bethany and then present the idea to the BSA District Eagle Project coordinator to gain approval for the Eagle Service Project.
“The Eagle Scout Project must show the Life Scout’s leadership ability in all aspects of his project after the approvals then through to complexation,” Langley said.
According to a letter written by Scout Leader Jay Langley to Dickerson, the veterans of Bethany had agreed to pitch in funds necessary to assure a proper placement of a U.S. flag pole in front of the church property.
After completing his project, Robinson had successfully added two flagpoles to the front of Bethany, one displaying the American flag and the other displaying the Christian flag.
In addition to his official project, Robinson donated the books he collected for his original project and donated them to the PALS Program at Carrollton Elementary School.
Robinson is also the 2022 recipient of the DAR Community Service Award from the Abraham Baldwin Chapter in Carrollton.
The chapter said he was nominated because “he’s a person we feel privileged to know and witness his exceptional attitude, ability, and willingness to serve his community as a youth leader.”
Although Robinson is set to join the military, he also plans to attend college. He has been accepted into Georgia State University’s music program beginning in the summer of 2023, but he is still applying to other universities to keep his options open.
He has ambitions to study electrical engineering and computer science, which according to Robinson, can help him further his knowledge for his military career position.
“I want to be able to have all my training as a signalman. You know, putting up satellites, operating, radio, communications, networks, internet, all that kind of stuff. I want to be able to have the computer science side of that and electrical engineering so I can really have a strong resume and find a good job somewhere,” Robinson said.
“I got to kind of work with him a little bit,” he said. “I did yard work for him. We used to build buildings in his yard, so we put up a greenhouse and a chicken coop. He taught me a lot of good things, like working skills. A lot of great life lessons too. He was just a great role model for me. Especially after my dad passed, he kind of stepped in and gave me a lot of good opportunities to get out.”
Robinson was asked, what is the most valuable thing you learned in Boy Scouts?
“I think that the Boy Scouts really teaches you can really overcome any challenge you might face in any adverse situation with a good mindset, and a little bit of determination. You have all the skills that it teaches you, mostly like handy life skills, and physical stuff, but there’s also a lot of abstract core values that it teaches you and it gives you strong moral standpoints. I think it just makes you really have a diverse skill set. As an Eagle Scout, you know, you’re really prepared for anything that can be thrown your way,” Robinson said. “So, I think that it’s taught me that I can overcome any challenge. If I just stick through it, and use what I got.”
Aside from Boy Scouts, music is a “big hobby” of his. He is a member of an alternative rock band with some of his friends where he plays guitar. Robinson also knows how to play the saxophone and plays his instruments in church sometimes.
Robinson said his music teacher, Ben Lively, was one of his biggest role models who taught him everything he knew about music.