In order to become an Eagle Scout, a Scout must complete an Eagle Project. An Eagle Project's purpose is to demonstrate a scout's leadership skills, as it must require significant effort to complete.
I figured I would ask my church, Sacred Heart of Castleton, if there was any projects I could help with. They wanted to build a railing along a newly paved path, and also plant a garden next to it. It seemed doable, so I started to write up the Eagle Project Proposal, submitted it, and it got approved!
By far, the most annoying part of the eagle project was buying the materials to actually do it. I had to end up buying:
- Wooden posts for the railing.
- Chain to go inbetween the posts.
- Quikrete to secure the posts in place.
- Chain connectors to connect the chain to the posts.
- Caps to put on top of the posts.
- Renting an auger to dig the holes.
- A tree to plant.
I was a broke high school student, so I had to fund raise. The most expensive part would have been the chain. Thankfully, my dad knew some people at a towing company that had some spare chain that they weren't using, so they donated it to me. I also sent out some letters to local businesses asking if they were willing to support my effort. I had the letters proof-read by my english teacher, and its a good thing I did, I had some spelling errors.
I have to thank the following businesses who donated something to the project:
- Accu-care Home Health
- Country True Value
- Dawson's Towing
- Morris Gardening
- Stewart's Shoppes
- Sunnyside Garage
- Webb's Farm
Once I had enough funds, it was time to buy the stuff I needed. It is a good thing Rob had a massive van we could use to drive around and pick things up. I got all the lumber and hardware from my local Curtis Lumber, and we put it all in the back of his van. The Quikrete we got from my local Home Depot. I got the tree from a local gardening place. My dad suggested I rent an auger to dig the holes since digging 14 holes by hand would have not been fun. My local Country True Value gave me a discount to rent one.
Everything was bought. I don't remember how much it cost, but it was a good chunk of change. I would have never been able to do it without the donations. Now, we could actually begin building the thing.
Placing the Polls
The day finally arrived to actually start the project. At home, I loaded up my Dad's old blue truck with all the materials we needed. Wooden posts, a post hole digger, a cement mixer, and it was towing the big auger. I arrived early to start preparing. When I arrived, there was an older woman there, asking if there was a funeral there. I said "I didn't think so, I didn't hear anything." She ended up leaving. A few minutes later, the music director arrived and said "by the way, we have a funeral later today, just keep it down as best as you can." Oops, sorry older woman, hopefully you came back to pay your respects.
The rest of the troop was actually picking up garbage along the road they adopted that day. I coordinated with the troop to start the Eagle project after the garbage pickup day, and we'd have pizza for lunch in between. My dad arrived with his big blue truck filled with everything, and then the rest of the troop arrived shortly after. We had lunch and the fun began.
He had to work fast, since we wanted to get the loud part done before the funeral started. So, I had Mr. N, who was the strongest adult leader there, start to drill the holes using the auger. He earned the nickname "Auger Man" that day. There were 14 or so holes to dig, and he got it done in no time at all. Renting the auger was the right decision; trying to dig those holes by hand would have taken forever.
Once the holes were dug, my dad's job was to mix the Quikrete. I had scouts dig some of the holes a little deeper using the post-hole digger, and had other scouts help pour the Quikrete in the holes and made it look nice.
At some point, the music director came out to warn us the funeral was leaving, and that we did a good job of keeping it down, they couldn't hear us at all inside. We stopped working, stood up, and removed our caps as the hearse drove past out of respect. Then, it was back to work.
Overall, I think everything mostly went without a hitch. I think there was one one small speed-bump, where one of the holes we were digging ran into a tree root. One of the scouts had to cut through it, and it took quite a bit of time.
After a long day, the job was done. All of the posts were secured in the ground. The hardest day was completed. I couldn't believe it was actually happening.
Creating a Garden
The second part of the project was to create a garden. The church wanted to grow grass there, but it just wouldn't grow. So, they decided to put in a garden instead. We had to rototill the area and get rid of all the weeds. However, no one had a rototiller. One of the church ladies strongly suggested to hire someone, but I didn't have the funds for that.
Thankfully, my dad ran the local CYO basketball organization, so he sent out an email to all of the coaches asking if anyone had one. In an amazing stroke of luck, someone did, and they lived just two streets down from the church. So, on a weekend, my dad and I drove over to the house, walked the rototiller over to the spot where we wanted to put in the garden in, and ran the rototiller. My dad is a big guy; 6 foot, 4 inches tall, former cop, and mostly muscle. Even he struggled with that thing. He described it as "wrestling a bear". Once we were happy with how the garden started to look, my dad returned rototiller back. Brett, Rob, and I then started to rake up the old grass and weeds. Apparently we didn't do that great of a job, since one of the church ladies wasn't too happy with the amount of weeds we left behind. People are hard to please sometimes. We ended up doing a better job the following weekend.
We then had to plant the tree. My dad's big blue truck came to the rescue again as he picked up the tree in it, and drove it to the church. Brett, Rob, and I were there, and we started to dig a hole to put the tree in. However, we found something slightly horrifying, it looked like a wire. I called over the music director, and he was surprised there was a wire there. He had the electric company come over to spray paint where the wires were, and there was supposed to be none located there. We don't know what kind of wire it was. It wasn't electrical, since that was above on telephone poles. We guessed it may have been some ancient telephone wire or something. The church was built in the late 1800's, so who knows what it actually was.
We moved the hole over a bit so we didn't break the wire in case it actually was important, and we planted the tree.
The hard work was done. Now, we just had to put on the final details. I would stop by after school or on the weekends either by myself or with Brett or Rob to finish the job. We had to hang the chain up and put the caps on the poles. However, eventually, it was done! And it looked amazing! There's an image gallery below.
Eagle Scout projects are no joke. This project took several months of planning and fundraising before I could even get started. Honestly, building the actual project was easier than all of the planning. To any Life Scouts reading this looking for Eagle Scout project ideas, please please please, do not wait until you turn 17 to start this project I like did. It will stress you out.
I did this project in 2009. As of writing, it is 2023. Fourteen years later, the railing is still standing at the church. I don't live in Castleton anymore, but when I do visit, I do make sure I drive past the church to look at it. It brings back a lot of good memories.
Click on an image to open the full-size image in a new tab.