ENCINITAS — Achieving the rank of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America is an impressive feat — only 5 percent of 2.6 million scouts nationwide will actually earn scouting’s highest rank. The same goes for a Girl Scout earning the Gold Award — the highest honor a Girl Scout can attain — which is achieved by the same percentage of the 2.3 million girl scouts as their male counterparts.
With those statistics as a backdrop it’s clear to see why Craig and Emily Kimball’s achievement is special.
The Kimballs are 16-year-old fraternal twins who attend San Dieguito High School Academy. This year, they both achieved the highest levels of scouting in their respective organizations.
“The BSA and Girls Scouts are separate organizations, and while we don’t have information about the Gold Award we can say that a brother and sister both earning the rank of Eagle Scout and the Gold Award in the same year is extremely rare,” said Deron Smith, communications director for Boy Scouts of America. “We congratulate all the young men and women who achieve these ranks.”
Their mother said local scout leaders told her the same thing.
“I’ve talked to their scoutmasters and others involved and they can’t seem to remember this ever occurring,” said Bridget Kimball, the twins’ mother. “I am very proud of them. I know they are good normal teenagers, but then when you see your child take ownership of something, and spend 100, 150 hours of their time realizing that goal, you see how they really grow and it just makes you really proud as a parent.”
The twins have been involved with scouting since the second grade, both lured in by neighborhood friends who regaled them with stories of camping trips and cool activities.
“A friend of mine who lived up the street ask me to come to a cub scout meeting, so I did, and the scout master was a really nice guy, and I was hooked,” Craig said. “That first impression was really what made it for me.”
Emily echoed her brother’s sentiments.
“My friends were having so much fun, so I asked my mom if I could join, and that was that,” she said.
Nine years later, brother and sister both embarked on their service projects, requirements to achieve the Eagle Scout rank and Gold Award.
Emily’s project was a yearlong effort to raise awareness of the importance of native plants in the environment and explain their impact on water conservation and the local animal population. To achieve those ends, Emily worked with the San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve with the park rangers and built a large planter outside of the nature center entrance, which they use to showcase plants. She worked with a botanist to develop a nature walk within the reserve that featured native plants and led multiple walks with the reserve’s visitors.
“I took pride in the fact that it made me learn how to interact with people at a much higher level than me, as well as the confidence needed to do so,” Emily said. “It really helped me see that if you are prepared, you can accomplish anything.”
Craig’s project is a bit easier to explain, but no less strenuous: he renovated the Encinitas School of Music’s Patio. This included planning, organizing, fundraising and leading the construction of fences bordering the outdoor seating area, installing lighting, constructing benches and sanding and refinishing the existing redwood tables and chairs. The project cost $660.
“It taught me how to manage a big project by myself. I had never taken on a project of that size before,” Craig said. “It helped me see the bigger picture in terms of planning, management and work ethic.”
So, what is next on the horizon for the twins? Craig joined the prestigious Order of the Arrow, a national honor society reserved for the best of the best scouts, as selected by their peers. He also plans to attend college and earn a master’s degree, but hasn’t settled in on his major just yet.
Emily said she has her career paths narrowed to two fields.
“I either want to be a trauma surgeon or an orthopedic surgeon,” she said. “I’d like to attend school here in California, but I am open to anything.”
If their achievements in the field of scouting are any indication, the twins’ futures burn bright.
“I see this as not necessarily the end of a journey, but the beginning because there are so many opportunities that this has opened for us,” Emily said.