Soaring as Eagles, together
By Kay Fate
KENYON — Caleb and Levi Traxler aren’t the first identical twins to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout — that honor went to John and Buell Fuller back in 1920.
In fact, they aren’t the first in their immediate family to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout — that honor went to their older brother Jake a few years ago.
They probably aren’t going to be the last of their immediate family to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout — that honor may go to their youngest brother, Quinn, in a few years.
None of that, however, can take away from the fact that Caleb and Levi have reached a goal that fewer than 5 percent of all Boy Scouts make — and they did it together.
They were honored at an Eagle Court of Honor in March at the Kenyon VFW, which co-sponsors Boy Scout Troop 232.
A quick glance at the list of the merit badges each young man has earned indicates that their similarities don’t stop with their identical appearance.
A Scout must earn 21 merit badges, 12 of which are required, in order to achieve the rank of Eagle. Of the 120 merit badges to choose from, Caleb and Levi both earned the same 24 badges.
The explanation, Caleb said, isn’t necessarily that they’re that identical.
"We both have a lot of the same interests," he said, "but as long as one of us was going …"
It certainly made it easier for their parents, Ann and Jeff Traxler. Jeff was their Scoutmaster for four years.
And while neither parent was involved in Scouting when they were young, "we thought they needed to be part of a group," Ann said.
"I was involved in 4-H," Jeff said. "Then Jake brought home the sheet (for Scouting) when he was in third grade."
Jake chose Cub Scouts over 4-H, and the Scouting tradition started.
Caleb, clearly the quieter twin, is more hands-on, he said.
"Levi’s more into farming; I’m more into woodworking," he said.
Caleb’s Eagle project was to plan and build a landscape ring for a sign at the Kenyon Sunset Home and Gunderson Gardens facility.
Sunset Home Administrator Dave Vandergon said the weather and other delays presented more than a few wrinkles in the plan, "but Caleb was out there every chance he could get. I think he was 6 feet tall when he started, and probably 6-3 or 6-4 when it was finished."
The idea for the project came from Mark Hegseth, a member of the Traxlers’ church as well as a Sunset Home Board member.
Levi’s project, a nine-hole disc golf course in Kenyon’s Northside Park, surprised Tom Bergeson, former public works director for Kenyon.
"I gave him a list of things" he could do for the project, Bergeson said, "and I kind of skipped over that one — and that’s the one he chose."
Levi has no doubt that his brother Quinn, now 12, will continue through the Scouting ranks to become an Eagle Scout.
"He’s just like Jake," Levi said; "he’ll do it. He’s a smart kid."
And with three older brothers who have already completed the process, help should be available.
"Yeah, I’ll probably help him," Levi said. "Jake helped me — well, he showed up, anyway."
After their June graduation from Kenyon-Wanamingo High School, both boys plan to attend South Central College — but in different cities.
Caleb plans to take construction-cabinetry classes in Faribault, while Levi will travel to Mankato for the diesel mechanic program.
The Scout Law describes a Scout as trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.
Each twin was asked which word best described his brother.
Levi is kind, Caleb decided.
Caleb, in turn, is friendly, Levi said.
Dan Rechtzigel, a Goodhue County Commissioner and social studies teacher at KWHS, agreed with both descriptions.
"Today is proof that nice guys do, indeed, finish first," he said in his speech during the Eagle Court of Honor. "These are two of the nicest guys in school, and two of the nicest guys in the community.
"Nothing can take away from the character that they possess."
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