Eagle Scout Ritchie has become a leader with Troop 624

Scouts bond during recent clean-up and planting service project.

Whether he’s helping spruce up a Mercer Island park or building ADA-accessible picnic tables for preschoolers, Kyle Ritchie fully thrives on being a member of Boy Scout Troop 624.

The Mercer Island High School senior, who has been involved with scouting since the first grade, recently earned his Eagle Scout rank along with seven of his fellow scouts at a court of honor ceremony on the Island. Also attaining their Eagle Scout ranks at the event were Matthew Fu, Tywin Cary, Will Hogg, Ernest Chae, Charles Luu, Harman Zhang and Brenden Nago.

Ritchie, 17, constructed the two picnic tables in early December of 2020 for preschoolers at Mercer Island Presbyterian Church’s Pebble Preschool, whose mission is to provide a Christian-centered environment where children will build a strong foundation of early learning experiences, according to its website. The students participate in many outdoor activities at the church, which charters the troop, and Ritchie completed the job for his Eagle Scout project.

Last month, Ritchie and a host of his fellow scouts removed blackberry and ivy and did some mulching and planting at First Hill Park for a service project. It was a rainy day, but they completed their tasks and enjoyed their time with each other.

“It was really fun. One, it’s an opportunity for us to invite the webelos (fifth-graders) and so that allows us to bond with them and be able to show them what scouting’s like,” Ritchie said. “Personally, I like to do a lot of environmental work — and I know some of the other guys there do as well — so it’s really good to be able to make an impact on the community.”

Due to COVID, the scouts had to put their seven-year ongoing First Hill Park project on hold for a while, but they made up for lost time at their recent work gathering. According to the city, one of its Parks and Recreation forest stewards joined the scouts and discussed food chains, native plants, and the value of preserving natural ecosystems.

For Ritchie, the leadership and organizational aspects of scouting flow into his outside activities like high school marching band, where he plays trumpet and is a section leader. He gets satisfaction out of working with others to devise a plan and see it come to fruition.

“I think the big thing is just leadership and being able to interact with other people. The number of experiences I’ve had of planning things, or critical thinking, has been the biggest things that have affected me in my life,” he said.

Ritchie, who sports a 3.85 grade-point average, is deep in the process of submitting college applications and scholarship forms and is eagerly waiting to see what awaits him down the academic road.

He plans to major in aerospace engineering, which entered his radar during an Aviation Day that Alaska Airlines held for the scouts. They spent some time in a hangar and learned how planes fly, how they’re constructed and they did some simulator activities.

Through scouting, Ritchie has become a leader and a builder — and possibly an aerospace engineer in the future.