Granby siblings make history as brother–sister Eagle Scouts

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Kate and Max Hollister are one of the first sister and brother pairs in Scouts BSA who also attained the rank of Eagle Scout. Submitted photos

Last month, as one of the first brother–sister sibling pairs in the country, Max and Kate Hollister of West Granby officially earned the highest rank in Scouts BSA, formerly Boy Scouts of America. Max, a senior, and Kate, a junior at Granby Memorial High School, were each awarded the rank of Eagle Scout.

Max was tempted into scouting in first grade at Kearns Elementary School, when he attended a Granby Pack 325 Cub Scout recruiting night that showed photos of fun adventures and parties. After only his first few pack meetings, Max set his sights on the goal of becoming an Eagle Scout someday. In February, 12 years after his first pack meeting, many adventures, outdoor skill development, leadership training, and hours of community service, Max attained his goal.

As Max’s sister, Kate was a regular, unofficial attendee at Cub Scout and Boy Scout activities including camping, hiking in the White Mountains, sailing in Greece and scuba diving in Honduras. While Kate was allowed to participate in these adventures as Max’s sibling, like many young girls for the last hundred years, she was not allowed to officially join. Kate wished she could be a scout and have the same opportunities as Max: to learn the scout life skills, develop leadership, and participate in community service.

In February 2019, she got her chance when Scouts BSA allowed girls to join its ranks for the very first time. Last month, after only two years in scouting, Kate accomplished what usually takes scouts five to seven years, and earned a spot in the Inaugural Class of Female Eagle Scouts.

In the summer of 2019, Max, Kate and their parents, along with Troops 175 and 1175 from Simsbury, summited Mt. Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain on the continent of Africa at 19,341 feet. Kate had the distinction of being one of three female Scouts BSA members to make the summit.

Both Max and Kate have been deeply involved in the leadership of their respective troops. In 2019, they were each elected by their peers to hold the highest leadership rank of Senior Patrol Leader of their brother–sister troops. Max was in charge of 90 boys, planning and organizing troop meetings and activities. Kate was the very first Senior Patrol Leader for the 14 female scouts in her brand new, trailblazing troop. In addition to planning and organizing troop activities, Kate worked hard to help establish a supportive and inclusive culture.

For his Eagle Project, Max built a bridge on the Granby Land Trust’s Mary Edwards Mountain Property in North Granby. The project included re-routing a portion of the yellow trail. Kate’s Eagle project consisted of building 10 portable herb gardens for the Simsbury Senior Center. To add to the challenge, both projects were completed during the pandemic and required strict protocols to protect the scouts, scout leaders and the Eagle Project beneficiaries.

Max is grateful for all his experience in scouting, saying, “Scouting changed my life. I use what I’ve learned every day, especially about leadership and relationships. I’ve even put the first aid skills I’ve learned to use in real life. My fellow scouts are my brothers, and together we’ve had experiences that felt like we’ve gone to hell and back. We all learned together that we are capable of accomplishing much more than we ever thought we could.”

As part of the very first class of female Eagle Scouts, Kate recognizes the privilege of making history. “The girls in my troop inspired me to learn new skills—usually half an hour before I had to teach them—and to keep going even when things got hard. I want to show the scouts in my troop and other girls that they can accomplish things that haven’t been done before.”

Max and Kate are proud to have achieved the Eagle rank and both feel that scouting has changed the trajectory of their lives. Of course, they made good friends and had a lot of fun. The leadership training and experiences—including leading other scouts , planning and organizing activities, communicating clearly, understanding group dynamics, and getting everyone working toward a common goal—has been invaluable. Both Max and Kate are grateful for their experience and look forward to the charge of all Eagle Scouts: to give back to scouting and to their community.

For boys or girls ages 11–17 interested in finding out more about Scouts BSA, please contact Brad Mead at (Troop 175 for boys) or Dru Breslav at (Troop 1175 for girls). While many youth organizations have suspended their activities during the pandemic, both troops are still meeting regularly and hosting local adventures while following all state and Scouts BSA COVID-19 protocols. 

Kate Hollister displays the portable herb gardens she made for the Simsbury Senior Center.
Max Hollister on the bridge he built on the Granby Land Trust’s Mary Edwards property. Submitted photos