Giving Back: Eagle Scout brothers help lead ambitious Troop 406

Published 8:00 am Thursday, May 17, 2018

LAPLACE — If Alex Watkins of LaPlace isn’t the most decorated Eagle Scout in St. John the Baptist Parish history, he has to be close to it.

For every three months of active participation and five merit badges earned beyond the required 21 badges, an Eagle Scout is awarded one Eagle Palm.

Most scouts age out or cease service after becoming an Eagle, earning an average of 0.1 Eagle Palms.

On his uniform, Alex proudly wears 10 palms for service beyond the rank of Eagle.

Alex is aging out of the scouts in August, when he’ll embark on a new journey studying electrical engineering at Louisiana State University, but his younger brother is following in his tracks.

Bryce Watkins, an eighth grader at LaPlace Elementary, made Eagle at age 14 and earned four palms over the past year.

The brothers, members of First United Methodist Church Troop 406, each fundraised and completed large-scale service projects upon making Eagle.

Alex Watkins has earned 10 Eagle Palms, showing a tremendous commitment to service following his Eagle Scout.

According to their father, Assistant Scoutmaster Dr. Chuck Watkins, Troop 406 members have led blood drives, refurbished playgrounds, restriped parking lots, built picnic tables and constructed a sidewalk connecting two church congregations in LaPlace.

Inspired by a project spearheaded by Saint Optical owner Cheryl Millet, Alex constructed “Little Libraries” outside of LaPlace Elementary and First United Methodist Church.

The project promotes literacy by inviting the public to take a book or donate a book at any time. Alex said his family keeps track of the libraries, and his pastor regularly replenishes books.

Bryce used his longtime woodworking hobby to create more than 230 pens to be sent overseas through the Freedom Pen Foundation.

“Me and my Paw-Paw do a lot of woodworking with lathes, and every year, I make pens for my teachers,” Bryce said. “I thought it would be nice to give some to veterans and soldiers.”

The Eagles Nest at a recent Court of Honor includes, from left, Joshua Duhe, Alex Watkins, Reece Bordelon, Bryce Watkins, Jared McElven, Jacob Mullins and Christian Barrow.

As part of his project, Bryce introduced more than 20 people to woodturning.

At an annual Boys Scouts summer camp, held in Mississippi, Bryce teaches path finding and mentors younger troops. Meanwhile, Alex works in aquatics, serving as lifeguard and teaching sailing and kayaking.

The brothers hold leadership positions within their troop, and they love every second of experiencing the outdoors.

“Scouting is about going to meetings, making friends and making memories,” Alex said. “You’re helping people experience things they wouldn’t otherwise. It’s changed my life for the better.”

According to Watkins, Troop 406 is home to 35 diverse members representing every school in the Parish.

“We have kids who would not normally see each other at school interacting on a regular basis,” Watkins said. “Our troop develops really good leaders.”

For more information about Troop 406, email