By Robin Jovanovich June 29, 2018
José Latorre is a young man with a lot of merit badges under his belt, actually they are on proud display on his Scout sash. Since becoming a Tiger Scout a decade ago, he has moved steadily up the ranks and earned 49 badges along the way. This spring, he earned the rank of Eagle Scout, which only 4 percent of Boy Scouts achieve.
Scouting has been a great companion for this Rye Neck teen from the start. “In my first year as a Tiger, I earned all the adventure loops to be worn on my belt,” he recalled at an interview in our offices. “I realized that I wanted to get my core skills down early.” And after fifth grade he did. José became a leader and role model early, too. He has served as Patrol Leader, Quartermaster, and Senior Patrol Leader.
His love of Scouting is multi-faceted. While he smiles when talking about Pinewood Derbies, first hikes, camping trips, especially the troop backpacking trip to the snow-covered Appalachians in mid-winter — digging out space for a tent with his father — he has grown to love the challenges, the intellectual aspect of Scouting. When his first idea for his Eagle Scout project — to help the Armed forces — couldn’t be put together — he scouted for another.
Every Eagle Scout project requires extraordinary amounts of planning, paperwork, fundraising, and execution, which typically involves physical labor. “It also involves human interaction,” José noted. “I wrote a number of letters, asked a number of merchants (Brewer’s Hardware, Village Paint Supply) for donations, and wrote thank-you letters after my STEM-related project — a “human” sundial, combining my love of history and science, at Rye Nature Center — was completed.” The first site he set his sights on at the Center was sunny but filled with rocks and too hard to build on. Working with maps, charts, and 20 volunteers, the project took him 300 hours in all, including two months to build, paint, and varnish. Visitors can easily find their true North through his effort.
The maturity and leadership qualities he possesses will serve him well this summer at Boy’s States at SUNY Morrisville, where he will be one of a 1,000 Scouts from across New York spending time with Marines, learning about military life. “We’ll also be able to run for elected positions — Federalist and Anti-Federalist.”
From there, José is headed to the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida, sponsored by Rye American Legion Post 128. “I’ll be on a simulated battle cruiser for a week! We’ll also learn basic command and target survival skills, as well as gain an understanding of intelligence and reconnaissance.”
He and his parents and his two younger siblings, both Scouts, will vacation in Spain and then he’s off to France for a two-week language immersion course.
Suffice it to say that José Latorre is on the right course for him. He hopes that course takes him to West Point or Annapolis. “If I am fortunate enough to be accepted into one of those schools, I will be the ninth generation on my father’s side to serve in the military.” His father, after whom he’s named, is a Lt. Colonel who is part of the policy and doctrine team within the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations.
Right now José is on school break, but he’s always anchored by the view that once a Scout, always a Scout.