Over this summer, I was biting my nails a bit. My son was a 17-and-a-half year old Life Scout who was showing very little enthusiasm for taking that final step. We talked a bit about some possible projects, and he SAID he wanted to earn his Eagle rank, but saying you want something and then actually doing the hard work to make it happen are two different things—especially when you are the stereotypical lazy teenager.
So, one day in the car I showed him this Ted Talk video about a 9-year-old boy from Cairns, Australia. This boy, Charlie Cooper, had come up with an anti-bullying project called a “Buddy Bench.” Blake had experienced a considerable amount of bullying at his elementary school, so it definitely sparked an interest for him. I’ll be honest, it was just a spark, but every fire starts from a tiny spark. His Scout leaders helped Blake pull the project together, as did his project advisor, and my husband and I did what we could to keep him focused and moving in some kind of a forward direction. Eagle projects are definitely not for the faint of heart…
These Buddy Benches are catching on like wildfire. The idea is that if a kid is feeling lonely or bullied, they go and sit on the bench. The other kids are supposed to at least stop bothering them, and hopefully they will befriend and comfort them. Apparently, all the schools are begging for them and other organizations like daycare centers and kids’ clubs want them too. Whether it’s a build-your-own type, or a purchased bench like we used (due to district safety rules), it makes for a nice project that creates a significant impact.
Now that the bench is in place, it is getting plenty of use. My best friend is a teacher at this school and she tells me that the kids really like it. The principal even added a pair of trees from the Tree Utah project to shade the bench. I thought that was pretty cool. The district safety coordinator who helped us was pleased that Blake had labeled the bench as an Eagle project. He said it would inspire other boys in the school who are involved in Cubs or Scouts to begin thinking of their own ideas for Eagle projects.
Even though we didn’t necessarily seek it, Blake has gotten a ton of positive attention as a result of his project. As I had created this sponsored post for the BSA, it inspired BSA Chief Executive Wayne Brock to offer him personal congratulations on his project. The conversation on that one was pretty interesting.
“Hey, you received special recognition from the Scout Chief Executive, Wayne Brock.”
“Remember when you went to Jamboree and that guy was up on the main stage addressing all the thousands of Scouts.”
“Oh yeah, that guy—I liked him.”
He also had 30-second feature on the evening news, an article in the district newsletter as well as his school newsletter, plus there is a feature coming out on several of our Eagle Scouts in our city’s newsletter. He is also going to be featured in an upcoming documentary by local entertainer and Ivy Girls founder Jessie Funk. It was really heartwarming that so many other people cared about bullying. It was kind of a ripple effect….
The really cool part about his project—he was surrounded by Eagles. The principal of the school is an Eagle Scout, the district safety coordinator is an Eagle Scout and Scout leader, even the school custodian who helped gave us a tour of the school—all Eagle Scouts. And once an Eagle Scout, always an Eagle Scout.
It’s a bit more complicated than you might think to navigate all the safety regulations and the red tape involved in a school district, plus all the fundraising and ordering process. It took three or four meetings and probably 30 or 40 emails and phone calls back and forth to get all the details sorted out. But because they had been through it themselves, these men understood the importance of a boy’s Eagle project and they were not about to let him fail.
I was very pleased with his Eagle ceremony as well. We managed to time it so he could have his ceremony along with four other boys who had been his patrol-mates and friends from the beginning.
It was a great day and I was really pleased that Blake finally got his inspiration and managed to complete his bench project in time to enjoy his ceremony. He is now and forever Troop 411’s Eagle #125.
Author: Adrian | AdriansCrazyLife.com. Adrian is a blogger who is passionate about helping parents with parenting tips, managing their finances, and organizing their homes. She has a full-time job in the financial industry and is part of the leadership of Troop 411 at Hilltop United Methodist Church in Sandy, UT.