Scouts’ projects deliver for city

Jul. 29, 2013 @ 06:23 PM

Henderson has a growing number of young men to thank for some little and some not so little projects being done that benefit the city during a time of tight budgets.

They are Boy Scouts of America, including two young men of Henderson Troop 605.

Nick Andrews and Sam Long are among a group of Scouts reaching the “Life Scout” level in recent years, and because of this group coming of age, there have been more Eagle Leadership Service projects to benefit the city.

It was Andrews and Long who were honored by city leaders recently as Eagle Scouts for their achievements, and they were heartily thanked for their work to organize and lead dozens of volunteers who put in hundreds of hours.

Henderson Mayor Pete O’Geary delivered award pins to the Scouts at a brief ceremony earlier this month as thanks for projects that repaired the baseball score house at E.M. Rollins Elementary School and improved tennis court facilities at Fox Pond Park.

“To reach the Eagle Scout takes a lot of hard work and a lot of determination,” O’Geary said. “Eagle Scout means a lot, I can tell you that.”

Recreation Director Alan Gill said the value of the work by Andrews, Long and their helpers totaled more than $5,000.

The baseball score house at E.M. Rollins that Andrews took on to repair was known to be somewhat damaged by rot, but they discovered it was nearly rotted away. Now it is restored.

The Fox Pond tennis court fencing had been neglected since its construction in the 1970s, Gill said, and showing signs of rust. Recently budgets have been too tight to get the work done, but Long showed up with a crew of 26 volunteers putting in a total of 180 hours. It’s done.

Gill said there have been other Scout projects done for the city. One project was the Fox Pond amphitheater, which got about $12,000 worth of improvements.

The projects are always well-organized, Gill said, with Scouts put to the task on details before they jump in and start. That solid sense of leadership makes the Scouts welcome to return. In fact, Gill’s door is open now.

“We have had some of these projects off and on for up to 15 years,” Gill said. “If a Scout comes up with a project to do, they need to present the details, how long it will take, what the materials will cost and how they will fund it.”

That legwork is mainly done within the Scout structure, Gill added. It is up to the Scout and his communication with Scout masters and fellow members to find direction toward a project idea.

“A lot of it comes down to the fact that we have project needs, and I’m sure other city and county departments do, too,” Gill said. “It depends on what the Scout is interested in doing, and a lot of it is getting approval from the troop and organizing volunteers and the time involved.”

Nick Long said his son Sam started looking for a project idea about this time a year ago, and the decision to paint the fences at Fox Pond follows some in his older brother’s footsteps. Nicholas Long III designed and built the benches there for his Eagle project in 2002.

“Sam had help from his troop, classmates and his football team,” Nick Long said. “This is as much about how a Scout exhibits leadership as it is about the service. He demonstrates leadership for completing a major task.”

Sam Long said he remembers little about his older brother’s project because, “I was only 6 years old, but I helped as much as I could,” he said. “My brother was much more of a help for my project.”

He added that a hurdle in the project came when paint rollers were not getting the work done completely.

“We found that they did not reach the other side of the poles that held the fence up,” Sam Long said. “We ended up getting spray paint. It was definitely a learning experience. I was very pleased with how it turned out.”

Nick Andrews said he remembered the old score house when he was a student at E.M. Rollins. He said it was old and rotted then, so it surely needed help years later, but he was underestimating how much help.

The plan for one week stretched out to two because dealing with the visible rot led to finding more rot. He kept his crew together and made adjustments to the plan.

“I thought it would be a good thing to do since it was in such bad shape,” he said. “I found out that the roof was also rotting, so I had that to do. I had to replace it. It was a lot of hard work for something that I thought would not take that long.”

His dad, Jay Andrews, said it gives an encouraging sense of achievement to get a project done, and the significance of his son’s project is also a source of pride.

“The Scout masters are also to be commended for keeping the boys’ interest and moving them through,” he said. “I think it is significant that the troop has more Eagle Scouts in recent years.”

Scout masters for Troop 605 include Steve Hopher and assistant Scott Lawrence.

Nick Long, also an Eagle Scout from his youth, said Troop 605 has a good group of Scouts with the rank of Life, friends who grew up together and stayed with Scouting, that included his son Sam.

“It tends to run in cycles, when a troop gets a number of older guys together on this,” he said. “It depends on the boys, how interested they are in staying together and staying in the program.”

He added that his commitment to the program is life-long because there is no better way to impart leadership and character to sons.

“If you take an 8-year-old boy and say, ‘I’d like to talk to you about leadership and character,’ their eyes will glaze over,” Nick Long said. “But if you say, ‘let’s go play in the woods!’ You know? It comes with time and involvement, but it is a proven leadership and character development program.”

According to literature from the Boy Scouts, troop members are encouraged to wait until they reach the Life Scout level before they put organization or planning into an Eagle project. Younger Scouts keep their focus on their merit badges and Star Scout priorities.

According to the Boy Scouts, a service project could be done by the Scout himself, but an “Eagle Leadership Service Project” cannot be done without leading others.

 

Contact the writer at mfisher@hendersondispatch.com.