Dexter Brothers Join an Elite Group of Youth


Sam (L) and Gabe (R) Fitzpatrick have been awarded scouting’s highest honor of Eagle Scout.

By Doug Marrin with Betsy Finn

Two brothers spent much of their winter adding to the summer amenities for a couple of local camps. The pair were in pursuit of scouting’s highest honor.

Sam and Gabe Fitzpatrick of Troop 456 in Dexter were recently promoted to Eagle Scout, the highest achievement or rank attainable in the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). Since the award’s inception in 1911, only four percent of Scouts have earned the rank of Eagle Scout. It is an elite group of youth recognized for their character and public service.

One of the elements Eagle Scouts are known for is their service projects. Sam and Gabe each planned and executed their own Eagle Scout projects. Each brother put in more than 100 hours on their projects from concept to completion.

For his project, Sam designed and built a portable oar rack and a stationary wall rack for 20 kayak oars at North Star Reach Camp. North Star Reach is a medical camp for children with significant health challenges and their families at no cost. The camp borders the northern boundary of the Pinckney Recreation Area.

North Star Reach Campers will no longer have to deal with the clutter of loose paddles, thanks to Sam Fitzpatrick. (L-R) Mike Fitzpatrick, Sam Fitzpatrick, and Eagle Scout Chris Short.

“Sam learned about North Star Reach through a friend and felt passionate about giving back to this incredible non-profit,” says Mike Fitzpatrick, Sam and Gabe’s father. “He worked closely with North Star Reach staff to discover the areas of priority where he could assist.”

Mom Courtney adds, “Sam took the initiative as a leader and then made decisions and communicated confidently with all the parties involved. This was an arduous process that took a lot of staying power, and we’re amazed that he did it without any complaints or doubts.”

Designing the project was the most difficult phase for Sam. He tried several prototypes before finding one that would work for the campers.

For his Eagle Scout project, Gabe built two boat racks for Friends Lake Community Cooperative, a local 90-acre land preserve where members can enjoy camping, water activities, and other events.

“Friends Lake Community Cooperative is run by a board of volunteers,” notes Mike. “Gabe had to work closely with the planning committee first, then attended one Board Meeting Q&A about his project, to get it ultimately approved.”

The campers at Friends Lake Community Cooperative will no longer have to stack their canoes on the ground, thanks to Gabe Fitzpatrick.

As with his brother, Gabe had to present several designs before the Board settled on one that best fit the non-profit’s needs. And as with many projects in scouting, the work is a public service but also builds the person within.

“He’s had to communicate with people of all ages, from retired-age Board Members to being the Project Manager on the project for 10 to 17-year-old fellow Scouts,” says Courtney. “We’ve also observed Gabe become comfortable in a Leadership role, not only through his Eagle Scout ranking but in Scouts as the Senior Patrol Leader, leading the entire Troop in weekly meetings for six months. He’s grown leaps and bounds this past year in particular, and we know that it’s partly due to his involvement in Scouting.”

“We’re so impressed with Scouting over the years, but especially with the boys’ boy-led Troop 456, led by Pete Potsos,” says Mike. “The opportunities they’ve had within Troop 456 have been beyond the scope of what we could have done with them as parents.”

“Scouting will teach you a lot of life skills, such as survival skills and an appreciation for nature, that will help you for your entire life,” says Sam.

Gabe’s favorite thing about scouting is the friends that he made and the trips that he took. “I went to a lot of cool places and have been around a lot of good people. It’s an experience I’ll never forget.”

Both Fitzpatrick boys will finish Dexter Early Middle College at WCC next year in preparation for college. Sam is taking core curriculum classes that will go toward a degree in Engineering. Gabe is taking core curriculum classes that will eventually go towards a degree in Urban Planning.

For more information about Troop 456, contact Pete Potsos/Scoutmaster (, Tom Grace, Cmte. Chair (, Rick Vanden Heuvel/Cmte. Member (; or visit

Photos courtesy of Courtney Fitzpatrick

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