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Brothers seeing the world through Scouting

Kenny Kemp
The Schleiff family of Lewisburg has the rare distinction of having all five brothers earn the honor of Eagle Scout. From left, Timm, Martin, Nelson, Lennard and Robin Schleiff.
LEWISBURG -- The five Schleiff brothers weren't among the thousands of Boy Scouts who descended on Fayette County for the first Jamboree at the new Summit park this summer.It would have been nice since they have the rare distinction of all being Eagle Scouts. They aren't complaining, though.Through Scouting, one or more has scuba dived in the Gulf of Mexico, hiked portions of the Appalachian Trail, canoed in Maine, visited Mount Fuji in Japan, camped in England and Wales and biked in Germany.It's the many fun activities undertaken by Lewisburg Scout Troop 70 that keeps them motivated and involved in the program, said Leonard Schleiff. "I don't think anyone really likes the requirements."Eighteen-year-old Lennard and his twin brother, Robin, were made Eagle Scouts during an Aug. 3 ceremony. Their older brother, Nelson, 19, had completed his requirements a year earlier, but hadn't gotten around to a ceremony. So he, too, became an official Eagle Scout that day.The older Schleiff brothers, Martin, 21, and Timm, 24, are Eagle Scouts, and a main reason why the others took up Scouting.Their mother, Margaret Schleiff, home-schooled her six children on their farm near Renick in northern Greenbrier County. She said several friends, who also home-schooled, had enrolled their children in Scouting."The boys didn't get to go to everything," she emphasized. "Their work came first." The Schleiff children, including the oldest, Meike, now 25, were expected to help at home, on their farm and with their father's construction business.    "They had to earn the privilege," said Margaret Schleiff. "They wanted to go on the trips. It motivated them."Timm traveled to Japan with the Scout troop, as well as to Chester, England, for a large international gathering there.For his Eagle Scout project, he built picnic tables for Carnegie Hall.  Not wanting to use pressure-treated wood, he made the tables from a locust tree. "They don't get moved, they're so heavy," one brother commented.
Timm continues to build furniture, although his creations have become much more accomplished than picnic tables. He studied furniture making for two years at North Bennet State School in Boston and plans to open his own shop in Lewisburg next spring.As for Martin, he has taken Scouting trips to Germany, New England, England and Wales. He put a new roof on an historic log cabin for the North House Museum. The cabin is next to the Fort Savannah Inn, where Martin is a foreman on the construction crew renovating the inn.
Nelson returned in May from a five-week visit in France with a group from Berea College, where he just started his sophomore year. Earlier, as a 16-year-old, he lived in Strasbourg, France, on a Rotary student exchange program. His project was redoing the patio in front of the Confederate statue near the old library.Lennard and Robin, who are now the first in the family to attend public school, enjoyed many of the activities that the Jamboree offered when their troop served as hosts for Scouts from England. They visited Cass Scenic Railroad, canoed on the New River, hiked in the Cranberry Glades and toured the bunker at The Greenbrier.The twins are now seniors at Greenbrier East High School.In addition to trips to England and New England, the Leonard and Robin went with Troop 70 to Germany, as did Nelson and Martin. (Timm, Meike, now a doctoral candidate in public health at John Hopkins University, and their parents met the troop there, in the same town where their grandmother lived.)In renovating a mini park downtown for his project, Leonard built the frames for the curbing, laid stone and installed a bench. A local bike shop contributed the bike rack. Robin built the forms for a curved sidewalk in front of the police station. City workers helped out on some tasks, such as pouring the concrete.     Next year, Troop 70 will return to England, where Cliff Baker has taken his Scouts half a dozen times since he became Scoutmaster in the mid-1980s.  
The troop takes a major trip every other year, perhaps to the Netherlands or to the high adventure camp at Sea Base in Florida. In the off years, the troop may take a bike trip along the C&O Canal.To pay for the trips, troop members sell 500 to 600 wreaths every Christmas, hold an annual spaghetti dinner that serves 500 to 600 people and work concession stands and hold car washes. On occasion, Baker said, local residents pay Scouts to do chores like raking leaves and mulching.He keeps track of the participation of all 45 troop members. Those who invest the most effort in raising money get more of what's raised. "A Scout can earn up to 100 percent of the trip costs," Baker said."We do a lot of fun things," he said.He said the troop has to be active to keep the older teenagers interested in Scouting through their high school years.On average, Baker said, Troop 70 has two make Eagle Scout each year. Already this year, six have reached that achievement; of course, half of them are from the same family.    Reach Rosalie or 304-348-5115.
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