For the past three years I’ve been a member of Boy Scout Troop 450. We are members of the Boy Scouts’ Diablo Sunrise District. Our charter organization is the Rotary Club of the Delta. We meet at Black Diamond Middle School, which is behind the Antioch Water Park..
Scouting has prepared me to lead a healthy worthwhile life in many ways. As of this writing, I am completing requirements for becoming an Eagle Scout. Community service is an important component of scouting at every level, but qualifying as an Eagle Scout requires each candidate to become an effective change-agent by identifying a major service project designed to provide authentic, verifiable, and sustainable service to the community, to a school, or to some other institution. The service project must illustrate the candidate’s commitment plus demonstrating his organizational, management, and leadership skills. Nothing is left to guesswork or chance because an official workbook details each step to be taken in the project and contains the required forms.
“THE FINISHED GREENHOUSE IS ALREADY SERVING AS AN EFFECTIVE LEARNING CENTER FOR SPECIAL NEEDS CHILDREN AND SCIENCE CLASSES.”
“IN TWO DAYS (ABOUT 120 MAN-HOURS) WE HAD OUR GREENHOUSE IN PLACE.”
The first step is to select an appropriate project. Fortunately, originality is not a requirement. Four years ago, Melissa Mastrangelo, a paraprofessional instructional assistant worked with Terracare Associates to create an educational garden where students could get in touch with nature at Oakley’s O’Hara Park School. Special education teachers Jodi Fee and Marie Bryant use the garden as an outdoor classroom and sensory space. It also serves as a retreat for teachers and students who need a few quiet moments between classes. Terracare personnel continue to offer generous ongoing support for the garden. A distributor called Renee’s Garden supports the project by generously donating seeds.
I assisted a previous Eagle Scout candidate, Andrew Adams, in assembling a greenhouse for the Deer Valley High School Community Based Instruction program. The greenhouse was his Eagle project. Melissa learned of Andrew’s work and realized that a greenhouse would greatly expand the learning value of the O’Hara garden, so I ended up creating a similar structure for O’Hara school as my own Eagle Scout Service Project. As I began, I simply followed the main points in Andrew’s plan.
The greenhouse itself was from a company called Grower’s Supply that specializes in high-quality greenhouse kits. The greenhouse is made of polycarbonate film coverings that offer superior insulating qualities. The material is not only impervious to wind, rain, and extreme temperature, but a pair of heavy shears will hardly cut through the material. A framework of triple-galvanized structural steel tubing supports the structure.
The whole unit was shipped disassembled and packed into a huge crate that was delivered on a giant pallet. “Some assembly required,” was an understatement.
However, I had previous experience with Andrew’s project. Ten enthusiastic volunteers assisted me in opening the crate, unpacking the pieces, and assembling the unit. In two days (about 120 man-hours) we had our greenhouse in place.
The finished greenhouse is already serving as an effective learning center for special needs children and science classes. For example, in March the sixth grade students, under the direction of science teacher Shauna Cramer, participated in a germination experiment as part of their Sixth Grade Science Week. Each student was given a small cup with an ounce of soil and a seed from some fruit, vegetable, or flower. The student then planted the seed in the soil, and wrote his/her name on a popsicle stick that they stuck into the soil next to the plant. They then placed the cup in the greenhouse and went on spring break.
When they returned they retrieved their cup and marveled at the miracle that had happened in their absence; a little shoot was coming up. They moved the plants from the cups into a bed in the garden. Before long they will be able to see the results of their experiment in the mature plants that will be growing from the small seeds they had planted a few months earlier.
The greenhouse was a complicated project that began with a proposal identifying the scope and purpose of the project for my Eagle advancement. The proposal provided a brief overview of the plans, a description of how it will demonstrate my leadership skills, and the specific benefits that will come to the O’Hara Middle School. My proposal also had to show that I could actually carry out the project and had addressed any safety issues. Perhaps the most important part of the proposal was a list of specific action steps leading to completion of the project with enough details to show the readers that I actually could carry it out successfully. I submitted the completed proposal for signoff by the O’Hara Middle School administration, by my Scoutmaster Matt Dunn, my unit committee, and by the Diablo Sunrise District Committee Advancement Team.
Once the proposal was accepted, I filled out a lengthy Project Plan, which provided details about the steps listed in the proposal. I also filled in a Service Project Fundraising Application, showing my funding sources for the $2,300 I raised for building materials and supplies.
Mr. Dunn is an IT specialist and most of the funds came from a generous contribution by one of his clients, Brereton Architects.
When I was in sixth grade, I realized that school and soccer were failing to keep me from becoming bored. When I complained, my father suggested that I look into scouting. I searched the web for local troops, and Dad took me to my first meeting with Troop 450. From the beginning I felt like I had found an ideal outlet for my pent-up energies. The kids and the adult supervisors were super welcoming. The Scoutmaster, Matt Dunn, in particular immediately made me feel comfortable and welcome.
By the end of that first meeting, I was no longer a stranger and scouting was quickly becoming a perfect match for my restless spirit. Work, play, and service turned out to provide a much more effective environment for forming relationships than any amount of simply “hanging out.” I quickly formed bonds with fellow scouts that grew into friendships far deeper than any I had been able to form in classrooms or on soccer fields. Our weekly meetings were great times of fun, learning, and work. I especially enjoyed monthly campouts held beneath the beautiful trees at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park.
One great benefit from the scouting program is that it leads young boys towards an adulthood in which they discover how to be good neighbors, loyal citizens, and effective human beings. We especially engage in vigorous and often rigorous acts of service, which is the most effective means of reaching scouting’s central goal of assisting us in becoming “physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.” Teamwork is a fundamental component of scouting, so we work together to plan campouts and troop events. Even more importantly, we focus on planning and participating in community outreach activities. As a result, right from the beginning, much of my time with the Scout troop focused on the Veterans Day Parade, our Scouting for Food program, serving as a volunteer at the Antioch Veterans Center, and many other outreach activities.
Scouting’s main motto is “Be Prepared.” The program doesn’t regard preparation as some vague ideal, but as the result of a highly organized process consisting of mastering the learning involved in more than 100 merit badges, each of which focuses on a specific skill or learning unit. First Aid was one of my first and most memorable badges. We learned to administer CPR and to bandage wounds, but the learning went on to cover many EMT-level first responder skills including such things as one-man and two-man fireman carries, proper treatment of snakebite (Don’t suck out the venom!), and procedures for diagnosing and treating shock and traumas.
I discovered that Mr. Dunn, the scoutmaster, was committed to the scouting program and dedicated to encouraging the boys under his direction to move forward in their lives. Managing the troop is no weekly activity for him; he carries out his responsibilities as though scouting was his fulltime job. I seemed to catch Mr. Dunn’s attitude of being fully involved in the scouting experience because I began to put the same amount of effort into mastering the program as a scout that he was in administering it as a scoutmaster. I became heavily involved in the troop activities. There are seven ranks in the program, and I set my sights on advancing to the highest rank of Eagle Scout almost as soon as I learned of it.
After joining the troop in April 2015, I advanced to Scout in June, Tenderfoot by October, Second Class Scout the next June, First Class in December, Star last May, and Life in December.
I will probably be an Eagle Scout by this means. This means that by age 15 I’ve advanced to a level that most scouts only reach when they are 17. It was a lot of hard work but I was glad to do it because I found each step to be intensely satisfying.
The best part of the process, perhaps, is the standard of not simply increasing my skills and status, but also committing myself to doing everything possible to deliberately bring others along with me. At each step I offer whatever experience and wisdom I’ve developed to assist younger scouts to move forward in their personal development and to adopt leadership roles of their own.
Scouting has been a good trip for me. It has helped me become a better and more well rounded person with greatly increased levels of integrity and respect for others. I’ve gained a number of proficiencies through merit badges from Archery to Wood Carving plus 22 others in between.
Some badges taught life-skills such as financial responsibility, which was my most recent Personal Management merit badge. The Cyber Chip badge, which is required for all new scouts, involves learning basic principles of electronics technology plus the real world impact of cyber bullying and how to identify internet sites that are safe from pornography. My Fire Safety badge covered the proper response to putting out grease fires and chemical fires. It instructed us in the proper use and maintenance of fire extinguishers. We actually visited a fire station where the fire fighters showed us their tools and equipment, and taught us details about their work.
I grew up in a healthy family. I had a good childhood. By instruction, discipline, and example, Dad and Mom helped me become a better person and made me the man I am today. Scouting is merely an extension of their parenting efforts.
I am a freshman at Dozer Libby Medical High School, which helps prepare students for a medical career. My goal is to become a nurse practitioner (NP). This idea came to me last year when I went to Kaiser with my dad who was having a life-threatening attack of ulcers. I was impressed with how quickly and effectively the medical staff reacted. Dad had been in mortal danger and the doctors had him out of the hospital in two days. I wanted to help other people in the same way I saw the medical people helping my father.
And, of course, being an NP on a surgical floor or in an Emergency Room would be an ideal way of fulfilling a formal scouting goal “to help other people at all times.”