(Nov. 15, 2019) Ocean City resident Joerg Leinemann was presented the prestigious National Eagle Scout Association’s Outstanding Eagle Scout award, last Monday during the weekly meeting of Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan and city council members.
The award is the highest achievement an Eagle Scout can receive on the local, state or regional level.
Friend and scoutmaster, Nick Busko, nominated Leinemann for the award. Distinguished National Eagle Scout recipient, Clifford Berg, presented the award to Leinemann, as per scout protocol.
“I don’t know what you do to get it,” Leinemann said, bursting out into laughter. “I feel honored that I have received an award that I don’t feel worthy of getting. I’m just trying to give back a little bit, and show a little appreciation to my community.”
His wife, Dorette, and son, Kurt, stood proudly as Leinemann received the award, and later smothered him with hugs and kisses.
Although Leinemann, 61, has established himself as a business owner, an active community member and now an Outstanding Eagle Scout, times weren’t always easy for his family when they first moved to Ocean City roughly four decades ago.
The son of German immigrants, Leinemann and his family moved from Baltimore to the resort in 1972.
That first year or two was marked with financial and social struggles, as Leinemann recalled his parents working furiously to make ends meet. His family also struggled to feel part of the tight-knit community.
Everything changed, however, when Leinemann, at the age of 15, became the first Ocean City Eagle Scout in 1973. Then-Mayor Harry W. Kelley celebrated his achievement in an Eagle Scout Court of Honor ceremony on Feb. 4, 1974.
“[Eagle Scout recognition] opened a lot of doors for me,” Leinemann said. “The community opened up to my family.”
Leinemann’s journey as a scout began when he was 8 years old, when he joined a Cub Scouts pack in Baltimore.
He quickly moved through the ranks of Bobcat, Tiger, Wolf, Bear and Webelo, and then achieved his Cub Scout Arrow of Light badge in 1969.
When his family relocated to the resort in 1972, he joined the Boy Scouts of America Ocean City Troop 261, chartered by the American Legion in 1946.
Leinemann said participating in scouts gave him a sense of direction and purpose, and allowed him to mature in a healthy way.
“What are the options for our children these days? Where do we take them?” Leinemann said. “Scouts gives you so much more. You’re getting morals, you’re getting survival skills, you become physically fit and mentally prepared. This whole scouting thing gives our youth something that they’re maybe missing [today].”
As a mentor, Leinemann has seen youth conquer rough upbringings and develop into future leaders and respectable community members through the scout organization.
“You work with them and watch them become Eagle Scouts, and I’m very proud of these guys,” he said.
The Eagle Scout has had his share of mentors as well, and he fondly remembers working for George Fitzgerald and fellow Outstanding Eagle Scout award recipient, Tom Smith, one summer in 1973, at Henson Scout Reservation in Sharptown, Maryland.
“I started to get what they called, ‘car fumes and perfumes’... and there had to be some reigning in of Joerg, and these guys did that for me,” Leinemann said.
The organization has also changed quite drastically since Leinemann’s youth, an evolution that he said he is extremely proud of.
In the beginning of 2019, the organization formerly known as Boy Scouts of America adopted a new name, Scouts BSA, and began accepting girls into the organization.
Ocean City ushered in its new era of scouts in March, and founded the all-girls Scouts BSA Ocean City Troop 621.
“How cool is it that these girls [are] becoming Eagle Scouts?” he said “It’s giving an opportunity to a girl to do the same thing as the boys.”
To become an Eagle Scout a boy or girl must be a Life Scout for at least six months, earn 21 merit badges, exhibit leadership skills, develop and lead a service project and complete an Eagle Scout board of review.
To make the process more complicated, scouts must complete all of this before their 18th birthday.
Since the first time the Eagle Scout rank was awarded in 1912, more than 2 million have achieved the honor — roughly 4 percent of all scouts.
Leinemann’s son has followed in his father’s footsteps and achieved the Eagle Scout rank this year.
His son has another goal to reach, however, now that Leinemann has earned the Outstanding Eagle Scout award.
Leinemann said he is especially thankful to his family, the Delmarva Council BSA, the American Legion, scout peers, past mentors and to Ocean City officials for honoring his achievement.