Monday, February 14, 2011

Eagle Scout Project - Part 1 of 2 (I Hope)

A Special PNW Valentine's from my friend Boxer.

If you had asked me 2 months ago if I thought The Boy would make Eagle Scout, I would have given you an emphatic "No". He was 4 Merit Badges short (2 of them Eagle required which are more difficult) and hadn't even thought about his Eagle Project. FYI - The Eagle Project is an extensive service project that the Scout plans, organizes, leads, and manages. And this all must be completed by the Scouts 18th birthday, which for The Boy is March 8th.

Fast forward to this past weekend and he has 2 Merit Badges completed and the other 2 about 90% complete, came up with an Eagle Project, wrote up the entire Eagle Project Plan, went before the Council Review Board and (after some minor corrections) got approval. The project will be performed at his old Elementary School which is a logistically desirable distance from the house.

What's the project you ask? (Not an outside project, not an outside project) It's an outside project - Doh! The school principal asked for a patio area with benches off of the main entrance walkway so that parents will have a place to wait when they pick up their kids in the afternoon. Apparently it's a free-for-all at 3:15PM and the waiting parents block the exit of kids trying to get to the bus.So this is one of those nice things to have that will help the principal out but that the school has no funding for. Did I mention this was an outside project? Here's what the area in question looked like this past Saturday.

This is the main entrance for the school in it's pristine state.

This is where the patio is going. See the problem?

So, The Boy started shoveling. Note the shorts. It's a good thing common sense isn't an Eagle requirement.

And shoveling. The Boy's buddy - Sargent Cookie (long story) came over to help. Interestingly, the Sarge is not a Boy Scout and even though out Troop is comprised mostly of boys that go to other schools within the district, everyone in the Troop knows him. Fascinating.
I will mention at this point that I felt the biggest obstacle to this project (besides the frozen ground which I will talk about in a minute) would be funding because of the short time frame. The Boy went to the PTA with his project and these "women" had him relocate the patio to it's present location (causing The Boy to rewrite and resubmit his project plan) with the promise of at least partial funding. This took several weeks to do and, of course, after he had everything to their liking - the PTA reneged. Welcome to life lesson 101 - never count on a group of women for anything. Both he (and I) had some un-scout like thoughts after that fiasco.

So plan B was to come up with a bunch of letters to different, local merchants to ask for material donations - not money, and I think this was a key strategy that paid off in spades. So he put on his uniform and went to a bunch of stores to talk to the managers and hand deliver the donation request letters. The local Lowes donated all of the pavers and 3 benches (that's like $400 plus - I couldn't believe it), Home Depot gave him $75 in gift cards, the Ace Hardware gave him a dozen work gloves, Dunkin Donuts is kicking in coffee and donuts and 2 pizza places are probably (he needs to follow up this week) going to give him pizza and soda. Not one place he went to turned him down. In this economy, I find that amazing.

So back to the next problem - the frozen ground. We have had (and still have) snow on the ground for going on 6 weeks. I can't ever remember snow lasting this long. My Christmas Reindeer are still frozen in the ground. To install these patio pavers, we're going to have to dig and level 3" - 4" of frozen ground in the area. The good news is that we are finally getting a warm spell where temperatures will climb to the 50s most of the week with bright sunshine. So our plan is to clear the area of snow and build a plastic "greenhouse" over the area so it will thaw faster and not re-freeze at night. So that was the 2nd part of our Saturday.

Did I mention there was a large bush that had to be removed? Courtesy of the PTA!

Here is the tent "greenhouse" we hope will work.

Leveling sand was the only thing we still had to get. So Sunday we drove up to Home Depot to use the remainder of the gift cards. They, of course, were out of leveling sand and didn't expect delivery until March. Because who in their right mind is going to be digging in frozen ground, right? We then went to Lowes and they had 14 of the 15 bags we needed. They opened the doors for the outdoor garden center and we wended our way back to the sand pallets where the bags were covered with ice and frozen solid. I found a sledge hammer (I don't know why it was out there but didn't question the magic) and we spent about a half hour breaking these things loose. So now there are 14 frozen bags of sand thawing in my driveway. We also got 38 pavers (each weighing about 40 pounds) and 3 benches a few days before and they're sitting in the garage. This stuff weighs a ton and I was feeling it on Sunday night.

Phase 2 of the project happens next Saturday. Rain or shine, frozen or thawed we need to get this done. So I am hoping there will be at least a part 2 to this post. With all the work and obstacles he's overcome so far (and there will be more - you can count on that) I think his Eagle Badge will be well earned.

Of course he keeps throwing in my face the fact that I never made Eagle. I only got as far as Life, which is the rank below Eagle. I always remind him that I didn't have "Me" like he does. I hope that sinks in some day.


Pam said...

Congrats to him. We do recognition certificates for the Eagle Scouts and I have been to two of the ceremonies to take pics for someone. It really is an accomplishment, so I am proud of him for you! I totally get your "me" comment ...

Karl said...

Good afternoon Buzz Kill,

You should be throwing back to him, he's not an eagle yet. And it may take awhile but he'll get it.

The forecast is good. But it's funny, how the surface can thaw and just an inch or so down its hard is a rock. Since napalm is probably out of the question. You may want to look into one of These They have a distributor in south Jersey. You can work in the rain, you can work in the snow, but if that grounds frozen, hand tools won't be any fun.

moi said...

Thanks. Now the lyrics, "Eighteen and life to go" are bouncing around in my head.

I'm impressed with The Boy's drive and his flexibility in coming up with Plan B. Surely, when a teenager proves itself thusly, success is sure to follow? I'll keep my fingers crossed.

Jenny said...

"Both he (and I) had some un-scout like thoughts after that fiasco"

Bwahahahaah, jeez, so did I when I read that, but congrats to The Boy and the local merchants for stepping up with this project. I'd love to hear how it turns out.

I was a Brownie drop out so I have nothing but admiration for both YOU and your Son. And you're so right...... behind every potential Eagle Scout is a good Dad.

Good Luck on the project and are you sure Napalm isn't allowed?

Buzz Kill said...

We're on the fence about an elaborate ceremony because we'll be having a big HS graduation party. We'll see.

Thanks for the tip. I know about these blankets but I have neither the time or money. I checked the area tonight and it's definitely melting, so I think we'll be good. A couple of job sites I've been to over the years have used fire for thawing. But those areas weren't near anything that would catch on fire - like the principal's office (the window next to where the patio is going).

He had some help with plan B. He was just going to mail letters out. I convinced him if he hand delivered them wearing the uniform, no one will say no to a Boy Scout. And I was right - for once.

The Mrs was actually a member of this PTA a few years ago too. I like to think that they didn't realize the significance of what they did but ignorance is no excuse. The Boy will go back to them when the project is done with some receipts for stuff he couldn't get donated (like the sand) and see if they'll be more generous once they see the project done.

Do you have any pictures of you in the Brownie outfit? I'll bet you looked like this or maybe this.

Sharon Rudd said...

Impressive! Glad to hear the local merchants stepped up and that your son is giving this a serious go. I will definitely look forward to Part II.

Buzz Kill said...

You and me both. There's still a lot that can go wrong and very little time to fix problems and mistakes. We'll see how he does under pressure.

chickory said...

i think he is waaaay ahead. when i think back to my 17 year old boyfriends they were ...oh never mind. not boy scouts. that patio area is insanely packed with snow. seeing him begin to shovel that area made me slump over in futility. but look how far he got. i cant tell you how distressed i am a gaggle of wimmen messed him over. thanks a lot, you hags! the Boy will fly like an Eagle...i know it.

Jenny said...

Bwaahahahahahaahhaah. Picture One is more like it. Trust me. bWahahahahahahaah.

Buzz Kill said...

So are you to blame for the sudden drop in Eagle Scouts in Florida in the 1980s? I think the BSofA would like to have a word with you.

The snow looked bad Saturday but looks much better today. And it's going to be pushing 70 by Friday, so I'm not concerned about the ground. I am concerned that The Boy has his shit together for Saturday - but that's on him.

The PTA was also trying to get him to add a new PVC fence to replace the old wooden one. Another unfunded mandate that he said no to. Maybe when the Pudge is ready for his Eagle Project in a few years, he'll do the fence.

I like that Valentine.

chickory said...

He said NO to an unfunded mandate??!!!??? Get that child to congress, pronto.