Vista scout wins prestigious international Duke of Edinburgh’s award

At 6 feet, 10 inches, Stevin Latimer is accustomed to standing above the crowd, but last month the high school junior from Vista earned two awards that make him a standout, not only in his hometown but also in the county and state.

Latimer is the first person in San Diego County, and one of just three in California this year, to win the prestigious Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award. In an online ceremony on Oct. 22, he received both the silver and bronze prizes, and he’s now on track to earn the top gold prize, too. Established in the United Kingdom in 1956 by England’s Prince Philip, the awards recognize progress over time in the areas of skills development, physical recreation and volunteer service as well as the completion of an adventurous journey.

A junior at Mission Vista High School in Oceanside, Stevin said he has always enjoyed setting milestones for himself and working to achieve them. A member of Boy Scouts Troop 747 in Vista, he earned his Eagle Scout badge at age 14, and has also earned all but 13 of the 137 total merit badges available to Boy Scouts nationwide.

“I just enjoy being a leader,” said Stevin, who plays center for the basketball team at Mission Vista.

Stevin Latimer, 16, of Vista

Stevin Latimer, 16, of Vista recent won the silver and bronze levels of the Duke of Edinburgh International Award.

(Courtesy photo)

Stevin (pronounced like Steven, but with an “in” at the end to match his brother’s names) is the youngest of Jack and Linda Latimer’s three sons. Their elder boys — 23-year-old twins Darin and Kevin — weren’t involved in scouting, but they were active in youth athletics.

Stevin’s spark for goal-setting started when he was about 8 years old. To kill time on the soccer field in the hours before his brothers’ early-morning games, he started helping adults set up the game equipment on the fields. Over the past eight years, his responsibilities have grown and now he’s the fields manager and equipment assistant for the City SC San Marcos youth soccer club.

Stevin Latimer, 16, of Vista

Stevin Latimer, 16, refuels a golf cart as part of his job with City SC San Marcos youth soccer organization.

(Courtesy photo)

Stevin said he got involved in scouting in second grade when his friend’s father started a Cub Scout pack. When his friend started earning a lot of awards, he wanted to do that, too. Stevin’s mother, Linda, said her son’s curiosity was fueled whenever he’d hear about new badges and award opportunities from older scouts.

“He always wanted to do two or three things at a time. He just had that internal drive,” she said.

Stevin’s scouting honors include serving as a senior patrol leader at the 2017 National Jamboree and 2019 World Jamboree. He has also won two Supernova awards, which recognize achievement in the STEM field (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). He has also earned the maximum of 7 Gold Palm and 7 Bronze Palm awards and will earn his seventh Silver Palm award within the next year.

When Mission Vista moved to online classes last spring, Stevin decided to work on the Duke of Edinburgh award because he had the time to commit for its rather strenuous requirements, which include three months to 12 months of weekly charted progress reports toward goals.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award, available to young people ages 14 to 24, began offering its awards in the United States four years ago. The Duke’s awards are not affiliated with Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, but they are recognized by both organizations.

To earn the bronze award, Stevin increased his computer skills over three months, improved his basketball abilities over three months, and organized and taught adult volunteers at City SC San Marcos over six months. For the adventurous journey part of the award, he took a canoeing and camping trip on the Colorado River and camped on Catalina Island, where he studied nature and conservation efforts.

To earn the silver award, Stevin practiced budgeting over six months to buy himself a mountain bike, he worked on strength training and basketball skills over six months and he volunteered for six months teaching City SC San Marcos coaches about risk management and equipment use. For his adventurous journey, he took two nature-themed Boy Scout camping trips to the Agua Caliente and Joshua Tree national parks.

He’s now working on the 12-month projects required for gold award. Stevin said he hopes to attend UC Los Angeles or some other California university and he is leaning toward a career in the medical field. He said scouting, and the pack leaders and counselors who have mentored him over the years, have been an important part of his life.

“I really enjoy scouting. It’s a really broad thing,” he said. “I like working with people and I really love traveling.”

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