La Jolla student earns Eagle Scout rank with labyrinth project


By Ashley Mackin

Bishop’s School senior and La Jolla resident Michael Hinkley was awarded the Eagle Scout Medal at a ceremony held at St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Encinitas on Feb. 2. The Eagle Scout is the highest rank possible in the Boy Scouting program.

Hinkley, a 12-year Scout, designed and built a 32-foot labyrinth out of concrete pavers in the gardens of St. Andrew’s Church. His project took 297 hours to plan and complete. It cost approximately $1,200.

Hinkley said carrying out a leadership service project that benefits a nonprofit in the community is a requirement to advance to the rank of Eagle Scout, and the last requirement he had to meet.

After earning the rank, Hinkley said he worked toward the achievement “because it shows leadership, shows willingness to persevere and to finish what you start. Only 4 percent of people who join Scouting become Eagles because it is quite a long journey.”

In addition to thanking his parents for being good role models, Hinkley said his football years had a big influence on him. Hinkley played high school football for four seasons and basketball for three seasons.

“The game of football is such a great game for leadership and for teamwork,” he said.

He received the 2012 Knight of the Roundtable award for his leadership on Bishop’s football team. Hinkley’s other football awards include Most Valuable Player, Offensive Player of the Year, multiple Union Tribune All-Academic League awards and a Union Tribune All-Coastal League.

Hinkley is a four-year member of the Bishop’s Honor Roll with a 4.3 grade point average, and was named a 2012 National AP Scholar with Honors. He said he plans to study economics and continue to play football at the college level.

“(Coaches) Joel Allen and Charlie Johnson are all great people who helped me grow, not only as a football player, but helped me mature as a man,” he said.

His leadership skills were put to the test with the design and implementation of his Eagle project, the idea for which he said came from meetings with his priest. Calling it a collective idea, Hinckley said the labyrinth was “the most thought-provoking.”

“I wanted my Eagle Service Project to be unique and completely custom. I wanted it to be something that people could use for years into the future. It (can be) a great way to take advantage of a beautiful, yet rarely utilized space, and it gives parishioners and other visitors a place to enjoy.”

Hinkley received funding from the church’s operating reserves to create the labyrinth. To help the church recover the upfront costs involved, Hinkley established an ongoing paver-engraving program whereby parishioners can donate to have their family names or other information engraved on one of the hundreds of pavers in the labyrinth.

“This space will forever be a part of our church grounds,” said Wesley Hills, a friar at St. Andrew’s. “It will help thousands in years to come, who walk through these sacred stones, find inner peace. It was made possible only through the vision and the hard work of Michael Hinkley.”