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Eagle Scout candidates to improve Antrim parks

November 08, 2009|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

GREENCASTLE, Pa. -- Eagle Scout. It is the highest rank and greatest honor that a member of the Boy Scouts of America can earn.

To get this rank, it takes 21 merit badges, six months of demonstrated responsibility, a service project and glowing recommendations, all before turning 18 years old. Not to mention earning the many preceding ranks.

Yet for a Scout about to reach this milestone, it is a bittersweet reminder that a chapter of his life will soon come to a close.

"Knowing that I can't do this after I'm 18, to me, that is sad," said Ryan Carty.

"I just, every day, can't help but think, 'what if I don't make it?'" said Mike Williams.

Ryan, 16, and Mike, 17, have begun the arduous task of pursuing the rank of Eagle Scout in Greencastle-based Troop 99.

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The entire task of making Eagle Scout is time-consuming and difficult, but earning the merit badges and securing letters of recommendation are simple compared to the service project, the boys said.

"I have three months to finish (my service project)," Mike said. "I'm running out of time."

Mike is a very busy 17-year-old who balances Scouting with school and volunteer work at Greencastle Rescue Hose Co.

For a time, he considered not pursuing the rank, but decided it was something he needed to do, he said.

With three months left to complete a service project, Mike said he had to change his game plan. Originally he planned to install support walls and flower beds at the train station in Greencastle.

Pressed for time, he said he turned to the advice of one of his mentors at the fire department, Ben Thomas, who suggested Mike build handicapped-accessible picnic tables for the parks in Antrim Township.

The idea struck a chord with Mike, who said that he has experienced firsthand the need for these tables.

"My grandmother is handicapped and when she wants to take my little sister to the park, we have to bring our own table," he said. "It just never crossed my mind until he (Thomas) suggested it."

Despite a time crunch to find materials, funding and volunteers to help, Mike said he wants to build 10 tables for the park.

"I think I can do it," he said.

Antrim Township parks will benefit twice from Eagle Scout projects in the coming month.

Ryan said his plan is to build dugouts at the community park on Grant Shook Road.

With more than 20 months until his 18th birthday, Ryan said he should have plenty of time to build the face block structures.

His desire to reach the rank of Eagle drove him to choose a large project and to start early, he said.

Reaching the milestone of Eagle Scout has been a longtime goal for Ryan.

"I talked to many of my relatives and friends' parents who said, 'Yeah, I was a Boy Scout, but I never made that Eagle requirement,'" he said. "I've looked back at everything I've learned and accomplished and thought, 'Do I really want to give that up?' No. I'm keeping going with it because then I can say, 'I am an Eagle Scout.'"

Still, a project as large as his requires a lot of support form the community in order to reach completion.

"You can only beg for so much money," he said. "After I send out requests for donated materials and money, I will have to start fundraising to finish."

Support for Ryan's project has already started to pour in, he said, including commitments from professional contractors and elected officials.

Mike said he also has some volunteers ready and willing to help him reach his rank. Time, he said will be his greatest obstacle.

The Antrim Township Board of Supervisors has given its nod of approval to both Scouts' projects.

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