Lo­cal Ea­gle Scouts give back to com­mu­nity

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL - By BRIANNA SHEA

bshea@ce­cil­whig.com

— Two area teenagers were pro­moted to Ea­gle Scouts ear­lier this month af­ter com­plet­ing projects at Im­mac­u­late Con­cep­tion School and St. Mar­garet of Scot­land parish.

Jamie Lan­ing, 16, and Ethan Downs, 15, both mem­bers of the Ne­wark, Del.-based Boy Scout Troop 283, were pro­moted to Ea­gle Scouts on Aug. 2. As part of the re­quire­ments to re­ceive this honor, Lan­ing chose to build a gaga pit, where kids can play a form of dodge­ball, and four Buddy Benches at Im­mac­u­late Con­cep­tion School in Elk­ton while Downs erected a Blessed Vir­gin Mary statue and a re­flec­tion area at St. Mar­garet of Scot­land parish in Glas­gow, Del.

Both scouts had to com­plete a pro­posal packet, which in­cluded de­tails about the idea, how to fund it and the con­struc­tion process, be­fore start­ing on their re­spec­tive projects.

Lan­ing, who at­tended Im­mac­u­late Con­cep­tion from fifth to eighth grade, said he chose his for­mer mid­dle school be­cause he saw a need for mid­dle school­ers to have an­other ac­tiv­ity to do dur­ing re­cess. He said the orig­i­nal in­tent was for the mid­dle school­ers to use the pit, but said that neigh­bor­hood chil­dren have also been uti­liz­ing it.

“You can throw any­one in, any­one can play, no mat­ter who you are, and it’s a fair game. You can’t make cliquey teams be­cause you’ll have to turn on each other at some point,” Lan­ing said. “Ba­si­cally, it’s just the per­fect game to get ev­ery­one up and ac­tive and not sit­ting around gos­sip­ing.”

Lan­ing said he was also in­spired to build the pit af­ter he at­tended Scout camp in Penn­syl­va­nia a few years ago and saw how much fun kids there were hav­ing.

ELK­TON

“They had a nice plas­tic gaga pit that all the kids played in and it was re­ally cool be­cause it was a dirt bot­tom, so ev­ery­one would get in there and come out cov­ered in head-to-toe in dirt from play­ing,” he said. “They were so happy.”

The benches, on the other hand, were re­quested by school of­fi­cials and are for those who are feel­ing lonely and are meant to en­cour­age so­cial­iza­tion, he said.

Con­struc­tion on the pit and benches took place on April 30 and May 15. Dur­ing the con­struc­tion pe­riod, Lan­ing said he del­e­gated re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to about 20 vol­un­teers, who built the pit and benches. The pit and two buddy benches are lo­cated near the play­ground, while the two other benches are in the field across from the school.

The project be­gan with a pro­posal packet, which was started last Oc­to­ber he said. Dur­ing the process, he met with the school about his idea and school of­fi­cials asked if he could add the benches.

Of the $2,300 Lan­ing raised, about $950 was left over and sub­se­quently do­nated to the school, he said.

Jeanne Din­kle, Im­mac­u­late Con­cep­tion School prin­ci­pal, said the stu­dents, par­ents and staff are ap­pre­cia­tive of Lan­ing’s ef­forts.

“It has been a ben­e­fit to ev­ery­one. Stu­dents, staff and par­ents are all over­joyed with it,” she said. “I think it’s a tes­ta­ment to Jamie. He saw a need and acted on it.”

The pit is an­other piece of equip­ment the mid­dle school­ers can use dur­ing re­cess be­cause as of right now, they can only use the bas­ket­ball nets, while the play­ground is des­ig­nated for the younger stu­dents, Din­kle said.

“It’s an op­por­tu­nity for the stu­dents to have an or­ga­nized ac­tiv­ity at re­cess,” she said. “And the buddy bench, it’s an op­por­tu­nity for stu­dents who feel iso­lated, for them to sig­nal other stu­dents and in­vite them into con­ver­sa­tions.”

Like Lan­ing, Downs was in­spired by past ex­pe­ri­ence when he de­cided to erect a Blessed Vir­gin Mary statue and a re­flec­tion area at St. Mar­garet of Scot­land, where he is a mem­ber of the church’s parish.

Downs said he was in­spired to cre­ate the statue and re­flec­tion area be­cause Mary is an im­por­tant fig­ure in the Catholic Church.

“She has a sig­nif­i­cance a lit­tle bit in my heart,” he said. “Also, a lot of the peo­ple in the church, when­ever I’m talk­ing to them, they feel in­spired by her.”

He said he feels like Mary is “al­ways watch­ing out” for him.

The pur­pose of the statue and re­flec­tion area are for peo­ple to re­flect and pray to Mary, mother of Je­sus Christ, he said. There are three plaques, one for the Hail Mary, one for the Me­morare and one ac­knowl­edg­ing the project, near the pedestal, which the statue stands on. Peo­ple are able to sit on one of three con­crete benches, as well. He said Mon­signor John Hop­kins, the church’s pas­tor, came to him and asked if he could in­stall a walk­way so peo­ple did not have to walk on the grass, as well as so­lar lights.

“Ethan’s Ea­gle Scout project — this prayer gar­den and statue of Mary — al­lows the op­por­tu­nity for peo­ple to come, to sit, to re­flect, to pray,” Hop­kins said. “It is very vis­i­ble and ac­ces­si­ble 24/7, es­pe­cially given that we are not able to keep our church open 24/7. The mem­bers of our parish are grate­ful for Ethan’s work.”

Downs said he started the pro­posal process in April, which in­cluded meet­ing with the church, about where he could put the statue. He said his role was to lead the project and su­per­vise about 40 vol­un­teers in­clud­ing those from the troop, as well as par­ents, among others.

Dur­ing the process lead­ing up to the con­struc­tion, he raised around $2,200 for the project and the $400 that was not used went to the church, Downs said. He said con­struc­tion took place in May.

CECIL WHIG PHOTO BY BRIANNA SHEA

Jamie Lan­ing stands in the Gaga Pit he built at Im­mac­u­late Con­cep­tion School in Elk­ton as part of his Ea­gle Scout project.

CECIL WHIG PHOTO BY BRIANNA SHEA

Ne­wark res­i­dent Ethan Downs stands next to his Ea­gle Scout project, the Blessed Vir­gin Mary statue and re­flec­tion area at St. Mar­garet of Scot­land parish.

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