Several areas of improvement around Crescenta Valley are due to Boy Scout Eagle projects. From the murals at local schools to blazing trails, Boy Scouts have found ways to help improve the community they live in. Crescenta Valley Town Council and Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich honored Eagle Scouts at the recent Arbor Day celebration.
Here are three of the local Eagle Scout projects that were being completed on Saturday.
Stories and photos by Mary O’KEEFE
Planning for a Boy Scout Eagle Scout project is not an easy job. First the boy must have already reached the rank of Life Scout. He has to demonstrate not only that he knows the Scout Oath and Law, but also that he lives it. He must have a list of community members that would give him a recommendation and earn a total of 21 merit badges.
The Eagle project is approached as a business proposal and a panel of business executives is nothing when compared to what a Scout faces when approaching the Boy Scout board of review.
Many may think that at the end of the project, the boy receives the Eagle rank and that is the end of his involvement. But for many, including Nico Pappas, there is an added incentive to keep involved.
Pappas, a ninth grader and member of Boy Scout troop 317, liked landscaping. For his Eagle Scout project, he combined nature with community. He created a native garden at the site of the Welcome to Crescenta Valley sign just north of the Pennsylvania Avenue off-ramp exit. As reported in an earlier article with the CVW, Pappas surfaced the area with bark, adding native plants and a drip system. He completed the project months ago, but was back at the location on Saturday.
“I told CVWD [Crescenta Valley Water District] I would [maintain] it for at least a year,” Pappas said.
Life Scout Pappas, now an Eagle Scout, continued to check the area weekly. He and fellow Eagle Scouts were honored at the CV Town Council’s Arbor Day celebration. At that time, the Scout was given a tree to plant as part of his project.
So on Saturday, once again Pappas, family and friends were out weeding and planting.
Anyone who has attempted to plant a tree, or just dig a little hole, has quickly come to realize why La Crescenta is often referred to as “rock-Crescenta.” Pappas and dad Stephen would turn some soil, then remove rocks, and turn soil, remove rock. Finally, they had dug deep enough to plant the Arbor Day tree.
“This is what you give back to your community,” Pappas said.
Pappas added he owes a lot to Scouting. Through Life and Eagle Scout projects, and just general Scouting, he has been given opportunities he would not normally been given.
“I would never have gone camping and never worked on a big project like this,” he said.
St. Luke’s of the Mountains
Construction was the focus on Saturday at St. Luke’s of the Mountains church. Zachary Blue, a Clark Magnet High School ninth grader from Boy Scout troop 288, was busy managing his volunteers in their improvements to the church’s courtyard.
“This is my Eagle project,” Blue said. “There used to be benches here.”
Blue pointed to an area at the southeast end of the church’s courtyard that is now an empty area. Prior to their arrival that morning, old wooden benches lined the area.
“The benches were there for 20 to 25 years, they were old and [rotting] with termites,” he said.
Blue’s Eagle project was to replace the old benches. He and his volunteer workers were tasked with the job of removing the benches and actually building new ones, not simply replacing them with store bought items.
“We have some Scouts working on a frame over there,” Blue said as he pointed to a group of Scouts and friends busily framing wooden benches.
The project took a lot of organization and planning, not just because the benches needed to be strong enough for use but also to weather the test of time and complement the overall look of the stone church.
St. Luke’s of the Mountains Episcopal Church was built over 85 years ago. The stone building is well known in the Crescenta Valley. S. Seymour Thomas, a well-known artist at the time whose portrait of President Woodrow Wilson is still displayed at the White House, sat across Foothill Boulevard and created a portrait of what he thought the church should look like. That painting was used as a template for the church.
Blue had to take into consideration the look of the old church.
“The planning took about three or four months,” Blue said. “I had to get clearance from St. Luke’s to do the work and had to get some help from advisors.”
Blue decided to do something to help St. Luke’s because the church has been “very good” about letting the troop host their pancake breakfast fundraiser at the location, said dad Randy Blue.
“It was a way to pay [the church] back,” Randy said.
Once all the planning was completed, it was time to get to work.
“That was the hardest part – actually getting the work done,” he said.
Blue had gathered several fellow Scouts, young and older, to help him with the project.
Blue’s dad and mom, Claire, were on hand to give their support.
When asked what they felt their son had learned from the project Claire said, “We were discussing that last night … I think it was leadership that it teaches.”
Leading his peers and mentoring younger Scouts through the project, she added.
And like most parents answer when asked if they’re proud of what their son had accomplished, dad Randy replied, “You bet.”
The Rosemont Preserve is 7.75 acres located at the top of Rosemont Avenue. In June 2012, with community and L.A. Supervisor Michael Anotonvich’s support, the Arroyos and Foothills Conservancy was able to purchase and preserve this section of land as a sanctuary for native plants and animals.
The land had been left to the elements and trails were non-existent, however the preserve had planned use of the space as an outdoor educational classroom for local schools. Volunteers have been working to clear the grounds of non-native plants to make the area education and docent friendly.
“I had been here helping [volunteers] clear the area,” said Ross Chase, Boy Scout and ninth grader from Flintridge Preparatory School.
“He was working in Rubio Canyon and met Paul [Rabinov]” said Ross’ dad Ron.
Rabinov is a board member of the conservancy and a strong advocate for the Rosemont Preserve.
While Ross was volunteering at the preserve, he heard that it needed trails created. He approached conservancy members and took on the job as his Eagle Scout project.
Ross had gone hiking with his troop and his family before and had done some small trail building, but this project was much bigger than anything he had tackled before.
“Some parts were easy, other parts were like a jungle,” Ross said.
Ross, his friends and fellow Scouts worked for two weekends and created about one-third mile of trail.
“We first marked the trail and then removed the brush,” Ross said. “It was rough cutting through the trail.”
The boys flattened the surface, making it easier to walk, and made certain the water would flow off the trail during rainstorms.
The planning portion of his project he did alone, but for the trail-blazing portion he recruited several friends and family members. Just on the trail alone they worked 40 to 50 hours. Altogether, the physical work and planning took a total of 250 hours.
“I love it,” Ross said of the newly blazed trail.
The actual trail blazing may be done, but Ross said he will continue to work with the preserve.
“I will be back working with the preserve every other Saturday,” he said.
Ross is a member of Boy Scout troop 355 as part of the San Marino San Gabriel Valley Boy Scout Council.