Eagle Scout builds bridge, benches for birding trail
Wednesday, February 08, 2017 10:40 AM
Photo courtesy of Ben Gray
Eagle Scout Ben Gray shown with one of the benches that he built and placed along the Norwegian Ridge Birding Trail. See the salute to local Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts on page 12 of this edition.
There was a need on the Spring Grove Birding Trail, and Boy Scout Ben Gray found a way. He built four benches and a bridge that enhances the trail.
Gray, 18, has been involved in scouting since first grade starting as a Cub Scout. When he crossed over to Boy Scouts, he set his goal to earn the Eagle Scout rank.
To earn an Eagle Scout rank, members must become Life Scouts and then submit a plan and complete an approved community service project that will benefit the school, church or the community, Troop 55 leader Sue Barker explained.
Scouts must also have 21 badges total, 13 of which are required and eight optional badges, she noted.
As he looked for a project to give back to the community, Ben’s grandfather, Dr. Jim Gray, told him there was a need for a bridge and benches on the new part of the birding trail that recently opened up, southeast of town.
With the help of his grandfather and dad, Paul Gray, Ben built a wooden bridge and four wooden benches, which are now placed on the trail for birders and hikers to enjoy.
Some of the older scouts also helped out on the project from time to time.
Barker spoke highly of Gray’s character. “He likes to help out,” she said. “He’s very helpful and always at meetings and camping trips.”
The total time invested into the Eagle Scout project was about 70 hours, Gray said. It seemed like the most time-consuming part of the project was the paperwork, he added.
Before he could be awarded his Eagle Scout rank, he had to complete the project before his 18th birthday, submit the paperwork, go through an interview process, and talk to a board of review about what the project meant to him.
“It was a bit nerve-wracking,” Gray admits. “It taught me about perseverance and hard work and how to apply that to life.”
Barker echoed that and said the Boy Scout program teaches members “how to do different things and how to relate to people.”
Since Barker has been troop leader, she thought about seven scouts had earned their Eagle Scout badge.
“It teaches them life skills,” she said.
His advice for other Boy Scouts looking to earn their Eagle Scout rank is “Don’t give up.”
“Sometimes you hit a point in your junior or senior year, and you’re not sure what to do, but you just have to power through it,” Gray said.
He said it “feels pretty good” to have the top honor after investing 12 years into Boy Scouts.
His favorite memories include the trip to Boston that the troop took in 2015 and hanging out with friends and troop mates during different scouting events.
Gray’s future plans after high school are to go to college for business although he’s not sure which school he will attend yet.
If a person is interested in joining Boy Scouts, they should contact Barker at 507-498-3315 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.