Editor's note: Bill Deaton, who contributes a monthly column about Prompton State Park, recently spent time with some Boy Scouts there who were helping to improve the park. Normally, this column would run on the opinion page, however, we felt it worthy of front page placement because of it importance.
A few months ago I had the opportunity to spend some time with the kids from The Family Foundation School in Hancock, N.Y. while they did some service work at Prompton.
Last week I returned to lend a hand to Justin Lamberton of Honesdale and some of his fellow scouts from Troop 1. Justin was in the final stages of completing his Eagle Scout project, a refurbishment of the picnic pavilion in the newly re-opened day-use area near the dam.
An Eagle Scout project is no simple task to complete. The project workbook alone is 22 pages long and contains forms for proposals, final plans, fundraising and a report to be written upon completion. Just finishing the project alone does not make one an Eagle Scout either.
The young man must still have advanced through the previous six ranks, earn 21 merit badges (12 of which are required, nine are electives), and hold a position of leadership in the scout troop. Completing everything before one turns 18 is no small feat and only about 2 percent of the kids who join a scout troop make it all the way to Eagle.
The project itself must benefit a church, school or the community. In addition to providing service and fulfilling the part of the Scout Oath, “to help other people at all times,” one of the primary purposes of the project, as stated in the workbook, is “…to demonstrate or hone, or to learn and develop, leadership skills. Related to this are important lessons in project management and taking responsibility for a significant accomplishment.”
Scouting’s real purpose isn’t to teach kids about camping and hiking, those are just tools. Sure, along the way the scouts pick up those hard outdoor skills, but more importantly they learn soft skills such as planning, preparation and organization. The project is the demonstration of the culmination of those soft skills.
Justin’s project started months ago. After identifying the project and making the contacts with park officials and securing approval for the project back in April, he then began to round up some supplies. Polyurethane stain was needed, along with brushes, drop cloths and cleaning materials.
ProJan’s Paint & Decorating was happy to donate stain and other supplies were furnished by Dr. James Kutch, Pat Williams, and Kelly Cordaro. The troop and families of members helped out by loaning equipment and providing snacks and refreshments for those who were pitching in to assist.
Once the goods were in hand, Justin then needed to recruit some manpower. The day I showed up, he had five other scouts from the troop there to help. Additionally, five or six troop leaders and parents were there as well.
“The first week we worked was just me and my dad,” Justin begins. “All we were doing was power washing the pavilion, so we didn’t need a lot of people.”
The assistance would be needed later once the painting began.
“Last week we had six or seven others here to help out,” he continued, “We got a lot done then, now with 10 more people, we should have everything finished today.”
With drop cloths covering the concrete floor and scouts strewn on stools, the staining was well underway. Additionally, the barbecue grill next to the pavilion was cleaned and painted as well. Just two hours into the work, the pavilion looked great, and with a bunch of people pitching in, everything was just about complete.
“Getting the work done was the easy part,” Justin stated. “Getting everything organized was the tough thing. Aside from all of the paperwork, I had to research what materials would be needed, had to see what stains would be best for the project and then get all of the stuff donated.”
About to start his junior year at Honesdale High School, much of the preliminary work was being done in the spring when school was still going on. Additionally, Justin works at Palmer & Sons and at Windy View Custom Harvesting.
Even though the project was nearly complete, Justin still has some more work ahead of him. Scoutmaster Mike Jurkowski reminded him that he still needed to write up the final report.
Following that, Justin has to pass a review and once that’s done it just becomes a matter of waiting and planning the celebration. He’s hoping he can have a joint awards ceremony with fellow scout Torey Decker, who will shortly begin his own Eagle Scout project: Cleaning up and making improvements to the Episcopal Cemetery in Honesdale.
The redone pavilion will undoubtedly see use soon. With the picnic area now open following the completion of the dam project, the public has begun flocking back to the area.
In the short time we were there, a woman drove into the lot and stopped to look around. She noted that she was planning a small family reunion and was checking out the park facilities. Two other young men were there to use the disc golf course, and others were there off-loading mountain bikes. Things seem to definitely be picking up at Prompton.