When Russell Laib died in September 2005, his son Michael Laib almost decided to quit Boy Scouts of America, his favorite past time. During the incredibly difficult time, only a promise kept Laib in Scouts.
"I made him a promise to him to get my Eagle Badge," Laib said. "So I stuck with it."
Nearly two years after his father's death, Laib, 18, fulfilled that promise.
"It took a lot of hard, hands-on work," said Laib, who is one of eight Eagle Scouts in Boy Scout Troop 222 of Covington.
To earn his Eagle Scout status, Laib refurbished the Blue Trail at the Turner Lake Complex. His project included installing trash cans, digging up roots and stumps and lining the 1.4 miles path with logs.
"It was just three or four weeks of just busting-your-butt work," Laib said.
Friends and other Scouts helped Laib with the manual labor part of his project, but the really difficult parts were all up to Laib. First he had to devise a project that would benefit the community, which he found with the Blue Trail. That plan then had to be approved by his Scout sponsor.
He then wrote an essay detailing major points of the process and presented that to an Eagle Scout Board. Once approved, he had to keep a timeline of the work and the costs associated with the process.
During the work, he had to document the process with before, during and after pictures. All this material was then formatted by specific Scout guidelines and was presented before an Eagle Scout board of review on Sept. 12.
The interview took place at Rockdale Hospital, and everyone on the board was from the Yellow River District. After presenting his project, Laib said he was also grilled on all parts of Scouting, including his favorite and least favorite badges.
His rock climbing badge earned the dubious honor of least favorite while he chose his life saving badge as his favorite.
"Anything that teaches you the skills to save human lives is good in my book," Laib said.
To earn the badge, Laib had to learn several components of water life-saving including treating hypothermia and using pants as a flotation device. Laib has been a certified Boy Scouts' life guard since he was 12 years old.
The review board approved Laib as an Eagle Scout and he will be presented with his Eagle Badge Nov. 7.
Laib is a recent graduate of Newton County High School where he wrestled, played soccer, ran cross country and was the president of the Future Teachers of America Association.
"I don't think they even have that group anymore," he said. "I think we killed it when I was in charge. A lot of teachers were not happy when we took a trip to Medieval Times. We were there with a bunch of kindergarten classes."
Laib plans to soon enlist in the U.S. Navy and hopes to one day become a physical education teacher.
"That was the only subject I was ever really good at in school besides cutting up, and that is not really a class," Laib said.
Until then, he will continue to work at Bert Adams Scout Reservation as a part time clerk and attend First Presbyterian Church of Covington with his mother Karen Laib.