By Robert Peterson
If you're a Scoutmaster, Varsity Scout Coach, or Venturing crew Advisor, you probably have conferred with boys who are in the initial stages of planning their Eagle Scout service project. They may even ask you for ideas. These projects illustrate some typical efforts and the procedures involved. You'll find other examples in the Eagle Scout Leadership Service Project Workbook. Be sure your Eagle Scout candidates obtain a copy; they must use the workbook in meeting the service requirement.
While Eagle Scout projects should benefit a religious group, school, or the community, they don't have to be original ideas.
Some are, though. Take, for instance, the project of Andrew Muntz of Sugar Grove, Pa. He may be the only Eagle Scout who ever putwith the help of troop members and some adultsa steeple on a steeple-less church.
Andy is an active member of Lander (Pa.) United Methodist Church, which had been without a steeple for 90 years. Local legend has it that the church steeple was taken down after lightning struck it and set it afire.
The idea to restore the steeple came to Andy in church one Sunday in 1996, as he listened to the hymn "We Are the Church."
"The song said the church is not the buildings or the steeple, it's the people," Andy recalled. "We had the buildings and the peoplebut not the steeple."
Vowing to change that, the 14-year-old Scout presented his idea for a new steeple to church officials. "Everybody was in favor of the idea," Andy said.
Over the next two years, "the Steeple Team" of 38 adults and a dozen Scouts conducted fund-raisers to buy the materials they would need to complete the project, which included building a new roof on the bell tower to support a 28-foot-high, thousand-pound fiberglass steeple. During construction, only adults worked on the roof while the Scouts made up the ground crew and refreshment team.
The great day arrived Aug. 8, 1998. A hired crane crew helped the Steeple Team place the glistening white steeple on the bell tower. Church members were moved to tears. One said, "It's so beautiful, I started to cry when I saw it."
Andy Muntz calculated that he had worked 44 hours in planning and leading the Steeple Team and that his helpers had worked a total of 150 hours. (c)
Steven Mojarro got the idea for his Eagle project from another Scout who had cleaned up his high school's fieldhouse after it was trashed by football players.
Steven decided to do something for his own high school in South Gate, a suburb of Los Angeles. He met with the assistant principal and school plant manager who gave him a list of jobs that would improve the appearance of the campus.
Using tools and materials furnished by the school, Steven, a sophomore, led seven adults and 38 Scouts who worked 376 man-hours total on one Saturday to:
Steven is now an assistant Scoutmaster of his Troop 468 and an adviser to its Eagle candidates.
Environmental projects are always popular. In Daphne, Ala., a suburb of Mobile, Eric A. Winberg led an outstanding Eagle service project focusing on environmental science.
He was an eighth grader at Daphne Middle School when he talked to the ecology club teacher about a four-acre wetlands area on the campus.
"At the time, students could not go very far out into the water to take samples because they just had pallets to stand on," Eric said. "They could barely get out where it's
ankle-deep, and the teacher said we needed an observation place farther out."
Eric decided to build a 125-foot walkway over the wetlands with a 5-by-10-foot observation deck at the end. Nearby is a 30-by-30-foot outdoor classroom where six classes are held each school day for environmental studies. The wetlands area is home to otters, beavers, wood ducks, cranes, snakes, and crawfish.
Eric Winberg estimated that he put in 520 hours planning, developing, and supervising the work. His helpers accumulated 378 hours. The job they did was top quality work, too. "The pier has lasted through three hurricanes," Eric reported.
Christopher Pavlish, a Lincoln, Neb., Scout, was looking for a service project idea when he called Dan Schulz, resources coordinator of the Lower Platte South Natural Resources District. (The district is a political subdivision of the state that deals with environmental matters.)
"Have I got a job for you!" Schulz told Chris Pavlish.
One of Schulz's responsibilities is Wildwood Lake, a popular fishing spot near Lincoln. Railroad ties embedded in the earthen dam and used as stairs by fishermen had deteriorated and needed replacing.
Over four Saturdays last spring Chris led a crew of 15 Scouts and six adults in positioning about 125 ties donated by the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway to make new stairs. The ties were toenailed together with 60-penny nails.
The ties not only make it convenient for fishermen to cross the dam but also help to control erosion of its soil.
Dan Schulz had high praise for Chris.
"We won't have to do that again for another 20 years," he said.
If Freddie-Douglas Harris has his way, golfers at Detroit's Belle Isle golf course will soon be serenaded by eastern bluebirds.
In the spring of 1999, Freddie directed the Scouts in his inner-city troop on Detroit's east side as they built a dozen bluebird nesting boxes. Home Depot donated the wood and Freddie got advice from Suzan Campbell, naturalist at the Belle Isle Nature Center, an oasis in the Detroit River near the city's downtown.
The Scouts then put the boxes on posts around the water hazards and wooded areas on the golf course. "It's a perfect habitat for bluebirds," Campbell said.
The service project was Freddie's idea. "He came to me with the idea to make and set out the boxes," she said. "It's a very valuable thing to do in areas like ours, where we've lost a lot of bluebird habitats."
Valuablethat's a good definition of any Eagle Scout service project.
Contributing editor Robert Peterson wrote about the BSA's 90th anniversary in the January-February issue.
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