Having grandchildren is one of the few positives about growing old. We joyfully tote them to Big Daddy’s for chocolate ice cream cones with sprinkles and never have to say, “Do your homework!” We happily drive three counties away and sit on splintered bleachers to cheer them at second base. If the team loses, we hug them, head home, knowing their parents will pick up the pieces. Perhaps my favorite part about grandparenthood is recognizing the same toothy grin my child flashed four decades ago. 

Occasionally, something truly special happens. Maybe your quarterback grandson throws the winning pass. Or your granddaughter play a violin solo in the Spring concert. Our role in that accomplishment might be minimal but our joy is maximal. Such a moment took place last Sunday when Troop 164, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, held an Eagle Scout Court of Honor for 17-year-old Max MacCannell, our grandson. 


“I wanted to become an Eagle Scout because it was something I could climb to and I’m really happy that I accomplished it all through scouting,” Max told me after the ceremony. As a Webelow, he earned numerous Cub Scout belt loops. For Eagle he had to earn 21 merit badges. He added five which garnered him the Bronze Palm, an award given to only 1% of Eagles. 


Merit badges signify a Scout’s knowledge and skills in a particular area. Max’s favorites were camping, woodworking and robotics. Three years ago during July, he trekked through the rugged mountains of the northern New Mexico wilderness on his week-long “Philmont hike.” For the “large service project” required of all aspiring Eagles, he tapped into his love of woodworking and robotics. (He had to explain to his grandmother that robotics is the branch of technology that deals with the design, construction, operation and application of robots, but maybe you already knew that!)

Because Max captains his robotics team at Portsmouth High, he realized the space allocated for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) projects was in dire need of organization, revision and reconstruction. “My Eagle project was building custom cabinetry, tables and whiteboards for the space, which I did at home in our garage and basement,” he said. 

Unfortunately, Max’s original measurements were one-quarter-of-an-inch off, discovered when he attempted to install the cabinets in the STEM room. Nothing fit! Back to the drawing board to build anew. He also organized and enlisted the help of fellow scouts, school friends and sister Maddie in an “Eagle Scout Fundraising Car Wash” on several April Saturdays to underwrite the cost of his project. 

He admits, “The hardest part of my Eagle project was managing the times for myself and for the people working with me to show up and make sure it got finished on time!”


I felt great pride (and a Niagara of tears) seeing Max sit in the chair of honor in a room filled with nearly 75 people, then speak for 10 minutes about his “Scouting Reflections.” At the end of the ceremony, Max’s parents, Alex and Tim, joined him on the dais so he could award them special pins, plus thank them for their help over the years.

Talk about a winning pass and violin solo wrapped into one!