North Naples Boy Scout Tyler Paine is not only an Eagle Scout, he has the unique distinction of being a bald Eagle Scout.
The 18-year-old recently celebrated his Eagle Award among family and friends of Troop 2001 during a Court of Honor ceremony at North Naples Fire Station 45.
The celebration concluded with a close shave for Paine, who had pledged to shave his head if fellow Scouts collected more than 2,000 children’s books as part of his Eagle Scout project. Not only did they meet the challenge, the Scouts exceeded the goal, collecting more than 3,000 children’s books for the Guadalupe Center in Immokalee.
“I don’t regret it,” he says running his hand over his now smooth pate, “I knew they were going to be able to do it. I’m grateful, actually.”
Paine, who has sported long locks for quite some time, says he came up with the challenge after repeatedly being asked, “Why don’t you get a haircut?”
“I knew I should, but I wanted to do it on my terms,” he says.
Add into the equation a tenacious Scout leader, anxious to help Paine make the goal and the cut.
“Over the years, Tyler has had a few moments of stupidity but none so glaring as when he came to the meeting and made that challenge,” chuckled longtime troop leader Chris Lombardo, “because I got to be part of it, too.”
At the time of the challenge, Lombardo, an attorney, was working with a charity organization undergoing foreclosure. Among the group’s holdings was a massive collection of children’s books.
“I asked them what they intended to do with them and they said, ‘You tell us, you’re the one in charge,’ so I took the books and filled my entire car. It was so full, I could hardly get in to drive,” he says.
Lombardo drove over to the Paine residence. He says Tyler’s reaction was priceless.
“Tyler comes out and sees the car and says, ‘No, no, no, no, the challenge was for the boys,’” Lombardo recalled. “I reminded him, ‘Tyler, you’re in a troop full of lawyers, you should have disclosed that, son.”
But Paine got Lombardo back. While unloading the contents of the car, some of Lombardo’s possessions were accidentally removed as well. During his Eagle Scout ceremony, Paine took great delight in publicly returning the items, which included a Bob and Tom CD called “Manboobs” and Lombardo’s Vigil Honor award, the highest honor bestowed by the Order of the Arrow.
As to the head-shaving portion of the evening, every Scout got a chance to run the clippers over Paine’s head and their lack of expertise had painful results.
“At one point, it got really hot and then someone asked, ‘Is it supposed to bleed?’ There was a little blood, but nothing serious,” he says. “I’ve definitely had worse.”
In May 2009, the more than 3,000 books collected through Paine’s Eagle Scout project were delivered to Guadalupe Center, where they were distributed to several hundred families.