I’ve mentioned our August was unusually full. Once we knew we were moving to France, there were several last minute projects that needed to get wrapped up. One of those was Oscar’s Eagle Scout Project.
Oscar is only 14 years old, and you have until age 18 to earn your Eagle rank, so it might seem like we could push this off. But there were several reasons why we thought waiting was a bad idea, and decided we needed to make it happen before we moved.
1- Oscar’s enthusiasm for Scouts is strong right now. He loves Scouts! But we know enthusiasm can fade off pretty quickly as the busy-ness of high school sets in. We thought it was best to wrap things up while his energy level and interest is still at a peak.
2- Oscar’s Scout troop is going to disband at the end of this year. On January 1st, 2020 it will no longer exist. This is because his troop is organized through our church congregation, and the Mormon church won’t be participating in Scouts in any official way from 2020 onward.
Obviously, members of the church can still participate in Scouts if they want to, but they’ll need to find local troops outside of the church. There won’t be any troops that are registered within the Mormon church moving forward.
So yes, Oscar could always choose another local troop and finish with them, but that didn’t sound very appealing to Oscar. He’d been with this same group of scouts from the beginning and wanted to finish things up with them too.
3- We don’t know how long we’ll be in France. At least a year, but it could be much longer. Additionally, we don’t know where we’ll end up after France, and can’t predict if that someday community will have a strong Scout program. Oscar really wanted to earn his Eagle rank, and we knew if he didn’t finish up in August, there’s a good chance he wouldn’t finish up ever.
Timing is a little funny in Oscar’s case. At this point, he’s done all the required work — he’s earned every merit badge he needs, gone on all the campouts, finished and filed all the paperwork, and completed his Eagle project. But he’s not an Eagle Scout yet.
Why? Because you have to earn and and hold the Life Scout rank for six months before you can apply for your Eagle rank. And Oscar officially received his Life Scout in the Spring.
That means, six months will happen sometime this fall. Once he hits that six month date, he’ll be able to schedule his Eagle Board of Review, and if he passes, he’ll officially be an Eagle.
For the project, Oscar wanted to build a Little Free Library and place it out front at his middle school. He wasn’t able to get permission to place it there (no drama — it was just summer and he couldn’t ever find the right contact who had decision making power). But he had a stroke of good luck. Right next door to the middle school is the Fred Finch House. It’s a place where kids who are aging out of the foster system can go to find housing and help getting on their feet.
We did a lot of volunteering at Fred Finch over our years in Oakland — mostly yard work and maintenance, and helping put together holiday care packages (these opportunities were organized through our church congregation). We had good contacts at Fred Finch and Oscar asked if he could place the Little Free Library there, where residents would have easy access, and all the middle school kids too, as they walked to and from the school. Happily, the director of the Fred Finch House said yes!
So the Little Free Library sits outside the Fred Finch property, just a few yards from where he originally wanted to put it. Yay!
To build it, Oscar started by looking up designs online. His favorite one was featured in a Youtube video. It didn’t come with downloadable plans, so he watched the video like a dozen times while taking careful notes.
After getting official approval to do the project, he made a list of all the supplies he needed — materials and tools — figured out what we already had, and then bought or borrowed the rest from the Tool Lending Library, and from his Uncle Jared.
Once he had gathered everything, he invited his troop and friends and relatives to come help build it. If you’re unfamiliar with Eagle Scout projects, you might not know that the scout is not supposed to do their project on their own. They’re supposed to plan, organize, and lead other people to work on the project.
Oscar did an excellent job. He was super prepared with lists of tasks and the order in which they needed to be accomplished. He was enthusiastic and flexible when problems came up.
And the volunteers who came to help were the BEST. Uncle Jared stayed onsite the whole day, helping run all the power tools, and problem solving when the door wouldn’t fit quite right. Steve Roland took on the hard task of figuring out how to dig the installation hole. Soren, Mauricio, Cade, Henry, and all of Oscar’s siblings, painted and sanded and glued and caulked and bought donuts and milk for the morning crew, and pizza for the lunchtime crew.
It was so exciting to see little library installed! As soon as it was settled in its new home, we went back to our house to gather some books to put in it, and Oscar wrote a little a note with instructions — just a temporary sign until we could get a permanent plaque made.
When we got back with the books, we realized someone else had already placed some inside! Oscar could not have been happier. It was the best proof: It’s going to work! The neighbors are already using it!
The plaque was finished and mounted just a couple days before we moved to France. (I know we took some pictures of it, but we can’t seem to find them. Hah!) And next time we’re in Oakland, we’ll be glad to see how it’s holding up.
What’s next? At some point, once Oscar has officially earned his Eagle rank, we’ll want to have an Eagle Court of Honor for him. (You might remember Ralph’s.) We learned that the Eagle Court of Honor is actually optional, but we want to do one — it’s such a great way to honor his hard work. We’re not sure when this will happen though. Maybe the next time we’re in Oakland.
One thing I love is that Oscar’s troop has a large number of scouts that, similar to Oscar, want to finish their Eagle by the end of the year. And their absolute hero of a Scoutmaster, Adam Christensen is making it happen. He has been all in this year, scheduling activities, and keeping close track of each scout’s progress, so that anyone who wants to finish, can. It’s quite remarkable! I believe there were at least five Eagle Scouts Projects that happened just this summer from their troop (and more that we’re missing out on this fall).
I’m also SO RELIEVED that he actually got it done. In addition to the project, there’s a ton of paperwork involved in applying for your Eagle — including a handful of letters of recommendation you have to request. And the very last paperwork Oscar needed to send in, he literally completed at the airport while we waited for our plane to France!! Not joking. Then he begged a flight attendant to print it for him, and Oscar mailed it from the airport. What a huge sigh of relief he felt as he boarded the airplane, knowing it was done.
Here in France, Scouts is well organized. (It’s pronounced: Scoots!). It’s coed, and people participate through high school and into college, with lots of high adventure activities. One of Ralph’s close friends here (the one he lived with during his exchange) is involved in Scouts, and Ralph has told us how great the program is here. So we’re hoping to get Oscar involved — and Betty and Flora too if they’re interested.
How about you? Are your kids involved in Scouts/Girl Scouts? Do they want to earn the top rank? Or maybe they earned it already? For those of you with older kids, did you see their interest fade during high school? I’d love to hear.