Eryk Chazares’ Eagle Scout Court of Honor event was the first in Tampa Bay area history to be held outdoors.
Those who know Eryk Chazares believe the Tampa Bay area’s newest Eagle Scout has a bright future ahead of him.
It was fitting, then, that his Eagle Scout Court of Honor ceremony broke from tradition and was held outside in Valrico on June 20, with dozens of guests coming together to watch him get his pin and neckerchief on a nearly cloudless afternoon.
Eryk Chazares is the first Eagle Scout in the history of the Boy Scouts of America Greater Tampa Bay Area Council, in his district and in Troop 89 to get the honor in an outdoor ceremony. The circumstances weren’t ideal — COVID-19 forced the Chazares family to abandon the original plan for April and the subsequent plan for a May ceremony, and they also elected to have it outside to make it easier to comply with the CDC’s social distancing guidelines at a time when positive cases in Florida are rising rapidly. But since he officially received the honor on Feb. 29, the family and troop knew they had to do something to give Eryk Chazares the celebration he deserved for his years of hard work.
Friends, family members and other supporters, including Hillsborough County School Board District 4 chair Melissa Snively, attended the court of honor ceremony. After the ceremony came to a close and attendees picked up Cuban sandwiches in the family’s garage, they got in their cars and looped around the neighborhood to give Eryk Chazares a parade-style goodbye as they returned home.
The story of his Eagle Scout project was covered in the April 11, 2019 issue of the Plant City Observer. He built a bookshelf for the Infant Center at the Redlands Christian Migrant Association of Plant City with the intention of inspiring young kids to chase their dreams in life and let reading help them get where they need to go. Even if the kids can’t read every word, he said, pictures within the books can also be effective at telling their stories.
But the “Shelf of Knowledge” is more than just a bookshelf: he designed it specifically with two people in mind.
His father, Simmons Career Center principal Cleto “Sundy” Chazares, has been a major inspiration in the Eagle Scout’s life. Both father and son share a lifelong passion for scouting and the younger Chazares said in 2019 he learned “the values of perseverance and not quitting” from his father.
And then there’s Dorothy Bell, the guidance counselor for whom the bookshelf was dedicated with a plaque on the left side. Bell was the elder Chazares’ guidance counselor in both elementary and junior high school in Bowling Green. The son of migrant workers, Sundy Chazares spent much time traveling with his parents for work and missing out on valuable class time. To help him reach his potential, Bell gave him a place to live and helped him not only get on a good track in the classroom, but also outside of it as Sundy Chazares became a skilled cross country runner. He earned an athletic scholarship for college, and ended up with a masters degree in educational leadership.
Without Bell, Eryk Chazares reasoned, his father’s life would have been very different. That motivated him not only to help as many kids as possible chase their own dreams of education and beyond, but also to dedicate the bookshelf to her so that everyone who uses it will know how much of an impact her compassion has had.
“I’m glad to have it presented and allow other kids to be more willing to read books and not quit in school, to be willing to keep learning,” Eryk Chazares said in 2019.
At the Eagle Court of Honor ceremony, Eryk Chazares called this his “greatest achievement” and said his time as a scout has taught him so many valuable lessons about leadership, teamwork and life that will help him throughout the rest of his life.
“In scouting, we often say the roads end with Eagle,” he said. “But I disagree — I think attaining the rank of Eagle is just a step on a long journey. Scouting has equipped me with the skills, experiences and friendships I need, and I look forward to applying these in the challenges that come and to carry forth the ideals of scouting in my everyday life.”
THE TRAIL TO EAGLE
Scout — Sept. 25, 2014
Tenderfoot — Sept. 10, 2015
Second Class — Nov. 5, 2015
First Class — March 17, 2016
Star — Sept. 8, 2016
Life — Jan. 11, 2018
Eagle — Feb. 29, 2020
- First Aid
- Environmental Science
- Emergency Preparedness
- Citizenship in the Community
- Citizenship in the Nation
- Citizenship in the World
- Fire Safety
- Fish and Wildlife Management
- Plant Science
- Search and Rescue
- Mammal Study
- Scouting Heritage
- Personal Management
- Public Speaking
- Personal Fitness
- Family Life