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Jun 20, 2017 9:41 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Hampton Bays Twins Achieve Highest Scouting Honors Together

Twin siblings Julia and Gary Tetrault earned the highest honors in scouting this year. Julia completed her Gold Award for Girl Scouts, while Gary became an Eagle Scout. CAILIN RILEY
Jun 20, 2017 4:26 PM

The last few months were busy ones for the Tetrault family.

Eighteen-year-old twins Julia and Gary Tetrault were immersed for the better part of the last year in finishing up projects that allowed them to earn the highest honors in the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, respectively. Gary attained the prestigious rank of Eagle Scout—a distinction that fewer than 3 percent of Boy Scouts achieve—while Julia earned her Gold Award, a comparable honor for Girl Scouts.

The pair, who will graduate from Hampton Bays High School on Saturday morning, spent close to 400 hours combined on their projects. Julia handmade 50 dresses out of old pillowcases for young girls in Africa, while Gary took on a restoration project at the Church of St. Rosalie in Hampton Bays, raising money to purchase and then install new kneelers and bumpers, while also completing a deep cleaning of the building, which just celebrated its 20th anniversary. The parish itself was founded in 1901.

Gary and Julia were both recognized with a traditional Court of Honor ceremony at the St. Rosalie’s church community center on June 10. Court of Honor ceremonies are traditionally put on by family members of Boy Scouts who earn rank advancements—but Ms. Tetrault included her daughter as well. Girl Scouts of America recognizes its Gold Award winners in a combined ceremony sponsored by the Suffolk County Council but does not recognize each winner individually.

In addition to consuming much of their free time, the projects also presented both Julia and Gary with multiple setbacks and challenges—circumstances that, according to their mother, Anne Marie Tetrault, are always part of the experience.

“It’s all about leadership and being able to follow through,” Ms. Tetrault said. “And seeing a project through to its finish.”

Ms. Tetrault and her children all admitted they were relieved to reach that finish line—particularly Ms. Tetrault, who helped guide her children simultaneously through the projects while also working five days a week as a family consumer science teacher in the East Hampton School District.

Ms. Tetrault and her children are clearly proud of the work they did, and eager to speak not only about their accomplishments but the obstacles they overcame along the way, and the many family and community members who pitched in to help them.

The requirements for both the Gold Award and Eagle Scout ranking are intentionally extensive, and the primary reason why most young men and women in the clubs never reach that level. Girl Scouts can earn their Bronze and Silver awards—the precursors to the Gold Award—by working together in groups, but the Gold Award is bestowed for individual efforts only.

Earning the rank of Eagle Scout must be achieved by individual effort as well, and requires what Gary estimated to be more than 80 pages of paperwork detailing his vision for the project, the steps for its execution and a written reflection once the work is completed.

Scouting is a family tradition for the Tetrault clan. Ms. Tetrault achieved the highest rank in Girls Scouts when she was young, and said all six of her siblings participated in Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts as well. It’s why she signed both her children up when they were first-graders, and did her best to support them as they made their way through the ranks year after year.

The final projects certainly required the biggest commitment. Julia estimated spending roughly two and a half hours working on each dress—and admitted, with a laugh, that she wasn’t keen to be near a sewing machine in the weeks after she finished the project in March.

She had plenty of help along the way, however, particularly at a sewing party she and her mother hosted early in the process, where she showed friends and family the step-by-step process for making the dresses, as part of the project’s requirement that it be sustainable.

Party attendees went on to make their own dresses, and when Julia saw a picture of a girl in Haiti wearing a dress someone else had made based on her instruction, she said she felt proud. The dresses Julia made were sent to Africa through the nonprofit organization Little Dresses for Africa, but she was not told exactly where they went.

“I really enjoyed seeing that picture,” she said. “I said, ‘Whoa, that made a big difference.’ Even though I won’t ever see it, I know that all the work I put in, the paper cuts and pricks of the needle, it’s doing some good.”

Gary and his family can see the good his project did every Sunday when they attend church at St. Rosalie. His project raised more than $3,000—primarily through multiple bake sales and a pasta buffet dinner—to fund the purchase of the new kneelers, bumpers and book racks for the church, which he, fellow parishioners, his family and friends, and members of their local Venture Crew—a co-ed division of Boy Scouts to which both he and Julia belong—installed. They also teamed up to complete a deep spring cleaning of the church.

Just as Julia hit some bumps in the road, Gary also had to work through challenges to finish his project. Someone who had committed money backed out, the order for the new bumpers and kneelers was delayed, and other details of installation were tough to figure out at times. But he persevered and, by the end, Gary said he realized the importance of one trait in particular.

“I think leadership is definitely something that’s really stressed in Boy Scouts,” he said. “You can quickly learn who is more capable of leading and who isn’t.”

Gary added that part of the reason he wanted to sharpen his leadership skills was not only so he could finish the church project, but also because of the experiences he had when he was younger and first rising in the ranks of Scouting.

“I wanted to be a better leader because a lot of the older guys were mean to me, and I didn’t want to be like that to other kids,” he said. “I wanted to make a difference and really help them.”

For Julia, leadership skills were a key benefit of the project as well. “It definitely built my character to be able to lead people and get a job done in an orderly fashion,” she said. “It’s a life skill that’s going to stay with me.”

Alan Rodriguez, Gary’s and Julia’s Venture Crew leader, was impressed with their efforts and said they’ve been positive role models for the younger members of both their Venture Crew and respective troops, describing them as “overachievers.”

“They’ve been such an asset to us,” Mr. Rodriguez said. “The two are really an example for the younger ones that we grow by giving. They do it for the cause and not the applause. They’re really exceptional in the amount of service they’ve given back to the community.”

And for their mother, the takeaway from the projects has more to do with how it will continue to benefit them in the future. Julia will head to Hofstra University in the fall where she will major in mathematics, while Gary will attend Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida, also this fall, with the long-term goal of becoming a commercial airline pilot.

“I’m really proud of them,” Ms. Tetrault said. “It’s really a life-changing thing because they can put it on their resume for the rest of their lives. It’s just the beginning for them—it will open doors for them.”

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What amazing young adults! Congratulations to you, Julia and Gary, and best wishes in your future endeavors. You will go far.
By Philip3 (2), Hampton Bays on Jun 21, 17 9:49 AM
From one Eagle Scout to another welcome to the club. My sister and I both made our Eagle and Gold awards and scouting remains some of our most treasured memories. Congratulations to your Troops, your families, your parents and yourselves for accomplishing this great feat.
By Damon.Hagan (34), East Quogue on Jun 21, 17 12:04 PM
Bravo, you two, and mom too!
By Infoseeker (279), Hampton Bays on Jun 21, 17 10:12 PM
Congratulations once again, Julia and Gary. Your achievements bring honor to the entire community!
By Bruce Doscher (9), Hampton Bays on Jun 22, 17 12:31 PM
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