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Q&A: Junior Boy Scout may soar into Eagle Scout position after building benches for underprivileged school

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Photo used by permission of Scott
Junior Spencer Scott (second from left) stands proudly on the bench that he and other Scouts had made on Sept. 1.

Junior Spencer Scott, who’s been a Boy Scout since sixth grade, completed his community service project with the hopes of becoming an Eagle Scout, the highest-ranking Boy Scout position.

 

Q: What does one need to do to become an Eagle Scout?

A: You have to get a certain amount of merit badges, and you have to put in a lot of community service, among other requirements. You also have to do a project where you arrange and fundraise a community service project.

 

Q: What is a merit badge, and how does one get them?

A: A merit badge is a badge you earn after gaining or completing a skill or trait, like camping. I had to camp for 20 nights.

Another example is when I had to hike up 1,000 feet. To become an Eagle Scout, you need to have at least 21 merit badges and 13 specific ones (Camping, Citizenship in the Community, Citizenship in the Nation, Citizenship in the World, Communications, Cooking, Emergency Preparedness or Lifesaving, Environmental Science or Sustainability, Family Life, First Aid, Personal Fitness, Personal Management, Swimming, Hiking or Cycling). I have gotten all of these over the past couple years.

 

Q: What have your fellow Boy Scouts done to become Eagle Scouts?

A: One of my friends – (senior) Josh Friedman – bought new bark and planted some trees at the Sacramento Zoo (3930 W Land Park Dr, Sacramento, CA 95822). Another friend landscaped part of his high school.

 

Q: What did you do for your Eagle Scout project?

A: I built a picnic bench and a small toy box for kindergartners at Oak Ridge Elementary (School) in downtown Sacramento (4501 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Sacramento, CA 95820). (We had to complete) the project to get the Eagle Scout Award.

 

Q: How long did it take you to plan and build the bench and toy box?

A: Let’s see … I started planning very preliminary stuff around December. Then in March I contacted the people at the school because my brother (Mac Scott, ‘17) did his Eagle Scout project there almost two years ago. Then, I  talked to (school administration) about what exactly they needed and what exactly (we) were going to build.

From there we got the basic idea of a picnic table and a toy box. Now from there I went and talked to my uncle, who helped us put the entire thing together because he is good at woodworking. I had to get three people to sign off on it, and I did that right around May. I had to get my troop leader, a board of parents from my troop and a member of the local Scout council to all sign off on the project and say, “You can start doing this.”

Now that was in May, (and) I’ve had a pretty wild summer, but (when) I finally (came) back, we went and bought all the products – including all the wood and stuff – during the (week) and built it this weekend (Sept. 1). We dug holes, planted posts, screwed on supports to the posts and painted boards. Today (Sept. 2) we just screwed on the rest of the boards and screwed together the toy box. We also painted everything, which was so much fun.

 

Q: Is there anything you learned from this experience?

A: Simply directing people to do jobs is really, really tiring. I thought it would be fairly easy to walk from group to group directing people and making sure they were on the right path and not destroying their hands with saws. I thought that that wouldn’t be too stressful or tiring at the time, but I was very wrong.

People seem to sometimes screw around, so keeping people on task and getting the work done while helping out is very tiring, especially when it is 90 degrees out.

 

Q: Whom did you direct?

A: Well, I had both my brothers there, and two of my cousins actually came out, one all the way from Buffalo, New York. My cousin from Buffalo came because my uncle is from Buffalo, and he really knows how to do woodworking, making him essential to the project. There was (also junior) Garrett Shonkwiler. Altogether there were around seven or eight kids. Generally, half middle schooler and half high schoolers.

 

Q: Did your troop leader help you with this project?

A: No, the entire idea of the project is that the Scout is the one who leads it, organizes it and helps instruct other Scouts. My troop leader was just there to make sure I was on the right path, sign off and give me advice. Nobody ever told me explicitly I have to do x or y; they just told me that it might work better if I did x or y. Overall, it was primarily done by me, the Scout.

 

Q: What is your fondest memory of the experience?

A: Getting the project done was really fun. Just having it all done, having all the paint done, having it come together was really nice.

 

Q: When did the building take place?

A: I started building (on Sept. 1) at 9 a.m., and we finished building the next day around 12 p.m.

 

Q: Why did you want to be a Boy Scout in the beginning?

A: Well, it’s mostly because I had gone to Cub Scout meetings, had friends there and always thought it was fun. But, as I went to more and more meetings, I realized that Cub Scouts is (collective), and everyone receives awards together, while (with) Boy Scouts, you have to work for the awards because if you do not work for the awards, you will not get them.

One thing that it has taught me is that I really have to work to get something. In troops – as far as I’ve seen – there are always the kids who are only going to go a couple of ranks and not any further, but there are also the kids who will go all the way. 

 

Q: What was the most difficult part of the process?

A: Planning wasn’t hard because drew everything out, but I have to say that the hardest part about building the toy box and benches was that we had to dig holes to put the poles in and cement it down. The problem with the holes was that there was rough dirt. While we did have post-hole diggers, we didn’t really have digging bars, (straight metal bars to break up the ground). We only had one because another friend was supposed to bring another one, but he was throwing up the night before, so he couldn’t.

We only had one, and we were supposed to use that to dig six holes. Due to this, it took a tad bit longer than I would’ve liked. Considering that was the worst of my problems, I’d say I did great. 

 

Q: Was there anything special about your project?

A: It was really cool doing my project at a school in downtown because most of the kids in my troop only do their projects at the elementary school near us, which is in a very nice part of town. I don’t want to be misconstrued about this, but I went to a “rougher” part of town and did my Eagle Project there to try and help their local community. They really needed it.

 

Q: If you could do this again, what would you do differently?

A: Well, I wouldn’t say that I would ever do it again because there is only a requirement for one, but if I were to do a similar community service project, (I’d want to) be prepared and check my tools the night before because when we got there, we had to open up paint cans. You need a flathead screwdriver to open those things up. We had forgotten one at home, so we kind of had to jury-rig it open with one of the hinges we were using on the (toy box).

That was done at the last second but, if you ever do a community service project, you should definitely make sure you have all the tools you’ll need.

—By Dylan Margolis

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