During this time of isolation and social distancing, there are limited options to what you can do when you walk out your door as COVID-19’s stranglehold on the country’s movement and leisure choices is impacting everything.At West Point, however, if you are out for a brisk walk or exercise of some variety, there are a couple of locations you can venture to and enjoy nature and the scenery.The Mrs. Frances Streck Prayer and Reflection Garden along the creek adjacent to the West Point Post Chapel and a series of trails in and around Fort Putnam, which now better connect the north and south portions of West Point, are two such places to appreciate and experience.Within the past year, both locations have seen improvements with small construction projects of two Boy Scouts from Boy Scouts of America Troop 23 at West Point.The garden now offers a place of serenity and solitude when children and adults gather. Meanwhile, the trails in and around Fort Putnam now offer much cleaner paths, cleared of dangerous logs and debris, with more trails to walk. New trail blazes help hikers know where they are within the trails while getting in touch with nature on the West Point installation.Scouts Braden Vanmeter and Michael Cameron Greifenstein each committed to a project to help them earn Eagle Scout, and with their foresight and the help of many people from original concept to completion their projects came to fruition.The Mrs. Frances Streck Prayer and Reflection GardenFrances Streck has been a loyal attendee of the West Point Post Chapel since 1948. In May of last year, a few months before her 95th birthday in early August, Michael C. Greifenstein’s dad, Lt. Col. Michael “Griff” Greifenstein, chief of West Point’s Department of Public Health at Keller Army Community Hospital, was approached by the former chaplain of the Post Chapel, Chaplain Barron Wester, and told that Streck’s family was interested in a “garden-esque” project for her upcoming birthday. The family, Michael C. said, mentioned that making it an Eagle Scout project would add meaning to it.“At first, I was a little hesitant and unsure about making this my project, as I had another idea in mind,” Michael C. said. “But, after Chaplain Wester gave a sermon about the multi-generational church and how each generation provides for each other within the church, I committed wholeheartedly to this project.”The 15-year-old who attends James I. O’Neill High School and has been involved in scouting for 10 years now, had to ramp up the brainstorming efforts for his Eagle Project because of the short timeframe to finish it by August.“The original concept took roughly a month to develop, although the concept that was proposed to us by a volunteer at one of my workdays ended up being the concept we went with,” Michael C. said. “The new concept took roughly a week to develop.”Once the concept implementation went into motion, Michael C. said, it required multiple tools to include, but not limited to, reciprocating saws, power shovels and rakes as well as 80 bags of concrete and a stand mixer. In total, 35 volunteers, including himself, Michael C. said, were involved in the construction of this project with a total of 231-plus man-hours logged.“We also procured a park bench that could be inscribed with a message dedicating the garden to Mrs. Streck,” Michael C. said. “We also required food and drink that was provided by my parents to keep the volunteers nourished and hydrated.”Michael C. gave many thanks to the people who were pivotal to making his project possible because without them, he said, it would not have been achievable. He mentioned Col. and Mrs. Greg Ebner, his troop’s Eagle advisors, Assistant Scoutmaster Steve Monaghan, Chaplain Wester and Michael’s parents.Each played a big role in the completion of the project as the Ebners placed Michael C. on the right path and showed him what he needed to do, how he could do it and the resources available to him. Wester helped coordinate the times they could work at the church and helped brainstorm some of the layouts for the project. Monaghan, who is a union concrete worker in New York City, helped consult from the original concept of using timber and mulch to a concrete slab instead.“Monaghan played a huge role in gathering supplies needed for the concrete work, including the concrete itself, which was donated by the construction company he works for,” Michael C. said. “I don’t know if my project would’ve turned out half as well as it did (without his help).”And, of course, his parents, who he said were his biggest supporters through the process, played a big role in making sure his project was successful.The construction phase of the project lasted about two-to-three weeks, but the actual construction only lasted three days with the deadline being tight to meet the church and the Streck family’s timeline, Michael C. said. Then, there was the added challenge that he had Boy Scout Summer Camp for a week in the middle of the project, which added some consternation to finishing the project.“Managing the stress of having to produce this project in under two months wasn’t always easy to deal with,” Michael C. said. “Although, I learned how to overcome that stress and work to make sure my product was the best it could be for my beneficiaries.”Michael C. had his Eagle Scout Review Board March 11 and now is on his way to earning his Eagle Scout rank, which allows him to reflect on the project and earning the Eagle Scout title.“I couldn’t be happier with the result of my project,” Michael C. said. “I still remember coming up to the chapel to water the plants and seeing a family using the garden and thinking about how my project truly became an addition to the community. The Van Winkles (Mrs. Streck’s daughter’s family) all constantly thanked me on the day of the dedication and kept mentioning how much they loved the garden … this project has not only drawn me closer to my church family, but also Mrs. Streck and the Van Winkle family.“I am beyond grateful for every person on the trail to this landmark in my life,” he added. “Personally, I’m the happiest knowing that I’m the first in my family to achieve this honor.”Fort Putnam trail improvementsWhen Braden Vanmeter began his Eagle Project, his idea was to do it at the Youth Center on post. However, after a conversation with Phil Koury, the West Point arborist, he was told his original idea was not possible. Instead, Koury recommended working on the trails near Fort Putnam instead, and Vanmeter decided to go with that idea.Vanmeter said he took a month to work through the concepts, which began after his initial meeting Sept. 18.“We had a couple of other meetings (after the initial one) to mark the trails and to go over what work was required to be completed,” Vanmeter said. “I had my workday, which is when I actually blazed the trails, on Oct. 19, and finished the trails that day. Then, on Oct. 24, I put up the blazes (trail markers) with Mr. Koury’s Capital Projects Team.”Once the day of labor arrived, Vanmeter said it required two leaf blowers, several rakes, a chainsaw, two pairs of hedge trimmers, two pickaxes and the help of several Boy Scouts and adults to make it all happen.“It took us about eight hours, once we started (on the ground), to finish all the trails,” Vanmeter said. “It took me about 13 hours from the start of the construction phase to actually completing the full project. I started off with Mr. Koury by marking the trails with checkered ribbon, to mark where they would go. After my workday, I had to put up the blazes (trail markers).”After his project was complete, Vanmeter said he was most appreciative toward Ray Kimball, who helped plan his project. He also credited his dad, Jody, who pushed him to do his work as the deadlines approached.Also, the Capital Projects Team, which includes Koury, were helpful, supportive and guided the expectations of the project in accordance with U.S. Army Garrison West Point, and Scoutmaster Michael “Griff” Greifenstein, who has been a big supporter of the scouts and pushed Vanmeter to continue toward his path to Eagle and to be a better scout, Vanmeter said.The 15-year-old James I. O’Neill High School student has been a scout for nine years and had his Eagle Scout Review Board March 11. With his Eagle achievement now in his back pocket, he had time to reflect about the fruits of his labor on the Fort Putnam trails.“I am very proud of what I have done,” Vanmeter said. “My project allows the community to have a place to be in nature and to get out and get some exercise. People can now take advantage of the trails since they are big enough for social distancing.”And his thoughts about receiving Eagle Scout and the road ahead?“I've finally made it to my goal,” he said. “I am proud to see all the hours of work that I’ve put in pay off. I am going to give back to my troop by continuing to participate in troop activities and help guide the other scouts on their Eagle trail.”Epilogue—Thoughts from the ParentsWith any achievements that children attain, it can be assumed that 99.99% of the time their parents were the guides to focus them on the path toward success. Greifenstein and Vanmeter are no different and their parents are very proud of their sons’ Eagle accomplishments.“My wife, Stacy, and I cannot be more proud of our son,” “Griff” Greifenstein said. “Michael has dreamt of attaining the goal of Eagle Scout since the day he put on his Tiger Scout uniform in 2011. I watched him work hard, stay focused and accomplish his goal, which has been nothing short of incredible … what amazes us both to this day is that on day one, as a 6-year-old, he told us both that, ‘one day, mom and dad, I am going to be an Eagle Scout.’ And, he did it.”Capt. Jody Vanmeter, USCC S-5, added, “As any parent with their child’s accomplishments, proud doesn’t even begin to describe how we feel. Braden set a goal and with the help of many leaders and fellow scouts, he achieved something he only dreamed about. He started in Cub Scouts in Germany as something to get involved in. To take that younger Braden and see the steps and life skills he learned while being a scout, it makes us very proud of him every day.”The parents also spoke highly of their sons’ character of not only being able to lead these projects, but also fulfilling obligations they set forth toward the goal of achieving the rank of Eagle.“This was an opportunity to prove to himself that he could lead, prove fortitude and lead his peers while trying to ensure everything works out,” Jody Vanmeter said. “This project helped build more character and positive reinforcement, allowing him to showcase his abilities and have a positive impact on himself, the Troop and the community.”“Griff” Greifenstein said about his son’s character, “This is no small effort for an adult, let alone a 15-year-old young man … Throughout the process, Michael remained dedicated, faithful and worked incredibly hard to organize, resource, execute and dedicate his prayer and reflection garden, all in a very tight timeline, all done to honor Mrs. Frances Streck on her 95th birthday. The crowning moment was watching Michael pour his heart out during the official dedication ceremony to Mrs. Streck, her family, his church and his family. His character truly shined bright that Sunday morning, showing all that scouting had done to make him the fine young man he is and an upstanding citizen in our community.”Currently, with COVID-19 still near its peak in the New York area, there are no plans in the near future to hold an Eagle Scout Court of Honor ceremony for both Vanmeter and Greifenstein, but once things get back to near normal, the kids will see their day in the sun.“As with life, there are many hurdles and challenges,” “Griff” Greifenstein said. “Michael knows the day will come soon when he can gather with his family, friends, fellow scouts, scout leaders and his church to celebrate this achievement and honor those who helped him along the trail to Eagle Scout.“Whenever that day is,” he concluded. “We will be sure to make his Eagle Scout Court of Honor ceremony special and memorable for him—he truly deserves it.”