Many of the 700 fence panels were rotten, as it turned out, so Tyler Brown spent 357 hours ripping them out, fixing in place 650 new ones and then painting Saint Nicholas Memorial Chapel’s new fence.
Now high school seniors pose for pictures in front of the clean-cut grass and hole-free fence, Brown said.
“I feel very proud of what I’ve done,” he said.
Brown, a 17-year-old Kenai resident and a Troop 152 Boy Scout, undertook the project to earn his Eagle Scout badge. He enlisted a cub scout master, other scouts, his family and his grandfather to help him.
Achieving Eagle Scout status is demanding. A scout needs 12 merit badges and nine other badges. But rising a singe rank requires 6 hours of community service, Brown said.
“Service is nothing new to us,” he said.
Brown could have chosen a less demanding project.
Creating a kids planting garden in Kenai’s gardens was his first idea. But that would have required cement work, and he had no experience in that field.
So he considered making a sign for the garden area. But the city’s Parks and Recreation Department was still overhauling the area, and the city would have to regularly relocate his sign.
And the project just didn’t feel right.
“That didn’t seem very worthy of an Eagle Scout Project,” Brown said.
Nels Anderson, Troop 151 Scout Master and Boy Scout District Advancement Chairman, said most projects are large. They benefit the community, he said.
“The purpose of Scouts is to train the boys out of selfishness,” he said.
Future Eagle Scouts strive for large projects not for the badge, he said, but often for the community. One Eagle Scout last fall built a snowshoe trail at Tsalteshi Trails; another is building a directory for the Kasilof Cemetery. The scout even donated a granite slab for the project, Anderson said.
“We hope it sets the tone for the boy for future public service,” he said.
Brown said his Eagle Scout project — and all the requirements before — certainly set the tone for him. He calls each requirement “building block for success.”
For Brown, the merit badges mean nothing; the skills he has learned are everything. He has learned respect for his leaders and also leadership skills. Often, during his project, because aspects didn’t go as planned, he and his help had to change their approach and begin anew. He guided that, he said.
“All the requirement badges,” he said, “are designed to last you for your life.”
Dan Schwartz can be reached at email@example.com.