Eagle projects help preserve nature, history
November 20, 2013
WIESBADEN, Germany - Identifying community service projects to earn Boy Scouting's highest honor, Eagle Scout, can be a challenge in Europe. But with patience and persistence, these projects can be rewarding.
Two Scouts from Wiesbaden's Troop 107 recently completed ambitious projects that will leave a lasting impact.
Eagle-candidate Kristopher Smith and a supportive crew of 33 volunteers restored a local fruit orchard in Breckenheim.
"This orchard had not been taken care of in over five years," said Smith, explaining that he and his fellow volunteers removed undergrowth, bushes, weeds, grass and various small trees.
Smith faced several challenges. "I learned there are laws restricting chainsaw use during the summer," he said, "and so the project was pushed back to October.
"During the first weekend of the project, cold rain poured down, forcing us to question the use of electric chainsaws," Smith said, "and so I had to cancel our first weekend of work in early October. Thankfully, the following weekend was dry, and I had a huge turnout of volunteers, enabling us to accomplish a tremendous amount of work."
Smith explained that while adult volunteers handled dangerous equipment such as chainsaws, younger Scouts did use saws and pruning shears. "During this project," said Smith, "I learned that kids like sharp things … so safety was of chief importance because sharp things don't like kids.
"I tried to be an active and directive leader," Smith added. "I discovered my strengths including wit, patience and the ability to influence others."
Smith thanked Dietrich Kröger, a member of the Streuobstverein Wiesbaden, Scoutmaster Jeff Stone, his parents, Krystin and Scott Smith, and other volunteers for their support.
"We are so proud of Kris," said his mother, Krystin. "He could have done an easier and smaller project, but he chose this one, and accomplished it while still doing his schoolwork and other extracurricular activities."
For his project, Eagle Scout candidate Cameron Noble supervised volunteers at the Sergeant York Historic Trail in Chatel Chehery, France. This trail is a central part of the BSA Meuse-Argonne Historic Trail which covers an area where 1.2 million Americans fought and served in 1918 under the command of General John J. Pershing.
More than 14,000 Americans are buried at the nearby Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery.
The trail, located west of the French town of Verdun, includes the location where Sgt. Alvin C. York captured 132 German Soldiers, helping him earn the Medal of Honor.
Noble was inspired to work on the project after having been involved in a couple of similar past Scout projects on the trail. Working with Col. Douglas Mastriano of the the Sergeant York Discovery Expedition his improvement project included replacing rotten or missing wood barriers along the trail, replacing wooden steps and upgrading areas impacted by erosion.
Recruitment proved to be a challenge because of the distance and having to camp in cold, wet conditions typical for early November. "I had to present this project in a way that would entice younger Scouts and peers to participate," he said. Fortunately, he received the support of senior Scouts and Venture Crew members, in addition to adult volunteers and some younger Scouts.
Noble's mother Grace said her son had some anxiety about the project. "When 'D-Day' arrived, Cameron was going through every possible scenario in his mind," she said. "What if no one shows … what if we can't finish in one weekend … will I be able to get support for a second weekend? Fortunately he arrived at the camp site to see everyone waiting and excited to get to work."
After seven hours of labor, Noble said he was pleased with the results -- but he had more plans for the group. 'Not only work, but play time' is part of my philosophy," Noble said. "I scheduled time to tour the museum in Meuse-Argonne where you can see all kinds of military equipment, and have a good sandwich too."
The tour included a chat with museum owner, Jean Paul, who maintains a collection of patches from all of the Scout troops that have visited .. "and now he has one from Troop 107," Noble said.
"I could not have done it without my parents' support and encouragement," he said.
The work of Boy Scouts in Europe to preserve and maintain the Sgt. York trail is documented on the website http://sgtyorkdiscovery.com/York_Trail.php.
For more information about Scouting opportunities with Troop 107 visit www.wiesbaden107.mytroop.us.