2012-02-23 / Family

A few rare birds

Local family produces four Eagle Scouts
By Dashiell Young-Saver
Special to the Acorn


SCOUTING LEGACY—Brothers, from left, Stephen, Michael, Spencer and Matthew Barrus, have all achieved the rank of Eagle, the highest honor in Scouting. The family hails from Newbury Park. SCOUTING LEGACY—Brothers, from left, Stephen, Michael, Spencer and Matthew Barrus, have all achieved the rank of Eagle, the highest honor in Scouting. The family hails from Newbury Park. It’s rare to find a family of eagles in the wild. Although the number of birds is growing, defying a former threat of extinction, few people ever encounter an eagle, let alone a group of them.

But a family of four lives in plain sight in Newbury Park, under one roof in the home of the Barrus family.

The four children of Bart and Laura Barrus—Spencer, 24; Michael, 21; Stephen, 18; and Matthew, 15—have all obtained the highest rank in the Boy Scouts of America: Eagle Scout.

Each brother had to earn 21 merit badges and spend from 75 to over 100 hours leading a community service project. Because of the rigorous process, the organization reports that only about 5 percent of Boy Scouts attain an Eagle rank.


SHARED KNOWLEDGE—Stephen Barrus, left, gives advice to his younger brother, Matthew, on how to complete his Eagle Scout project. Their father, Bart Barrus, right, also pitches in. SHARED KNOWLEDGE—Stephen Barrus, left, gives advice to his younger brother, Matthew, on how to complete his Eagle Scout project. Their father, Bart Barrus, right, also pitches in. “You have to commit yourself, even though it takes a lot of time, especially alongside doing sports, school and everything else,” said Matthew, a freshman at Newbury Park High School.

The young men’s Eagle projects ranged from repairing motorcycles for a youth program to resurfacing handicapped ramps for a school.

Eagle Scouts must juggle classwork and Scouting. For the Barrus family, the key to success has been support from each another.

“Staying motivated is diffi cult. It requires a lot of work, not only the service project, but all the merit badges behind it,” Michael said. “My parents were really big in supporting me and helping me in my Eagle project.”

Bart Barrus said he was a Scout as a young man, but because his family moved often, he never earned the Eagle rank. He was the Scoutmaster for Spencer and Michael’s troop before the family moved to Newbury Park from Washington state in 2002.

“ Because Scouting helps build character, leadership and life skills and was beneficial to me, I wanted to teach other boys the same skills,” he said. “Since I had four boys, it was a natural fit. As a parent, it was a great way to be involved with the boys.”

Bart Barrus’ two brothers were also Scouts, and his sons now have five cousins who’ve earned Eagle Scout ranks.

The family tradition was a big motivator for the four brothers, who admitted to a little sibling rivalry in earning their ranks.

“I wanted to be like my older brother and do the things that he would do. If he could do it, so can I,” Michael said.

After earning his rank, Michael enjoyed helping his younger brothers and other young Scouts with their Eagle projects.

The family’s Mormon faith also had a big influence on their participation in Scouting. The Scout law champions values such as trustworthiness, loyalty, helpfulness and bravery. According to Laura, the BSA program teaches and encourages many of the same principles as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“I love (the Scouts’) values and standards,” Laura said. “Many are the same as those of our church and family.”

Spencer and Michael were able to use their Scouting knowledge during their twoyear religious mission trips to Guatemala and Argentina respectively. Now both attend school at Brigham Young University (BYU) in Utah.

“I’ve learned that if you want something, you need to be persistent and things will pan out,” Michael said. “Now I know to have goals and I will keep moving forward in college towards medical school and keep looking for new opportunities in volunteering and research.”

Michael is majoring in microbiology, Spencer in manufacturing engineering technology.

The younger brothers attend Newbury Park High School. Stephen, a senior, wants to become a history teacher and Matthew a dentist. Both credit Boy Scouts for helping them know and pursue their goals.

“The whole process helped to set my boys on the path to be successful in life, make career choices and develop life skills,” Bart Barrus said.

Learning skills and values are not the only benefits to the family. As a result of their Scouting experiences, the sons feel they’ve grown together.

“We’ve become closer as a family. It adds to the commonalities we have with each other,” Stephen said.

While some eagles have left the nest, the Barrus family still feels close.

The sons intend to have children and encourage them to join the Scouts as well.

“( Becoming an Eagle Scout) helped me to grow into who I am. I learned how to do hard things, and I was able to share my passion and still help people . . . it was absolutely worth all the effort,” Spencer said.

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