Benches and trail -hitches help CATA freshman achieve Eagle Scout rank
While 14-year-old Douglas Bittner can credit his mother with the idea that launched his Eagle Scout project, all points for its leadership, planning and execution belong to him.
Taking a break on a walk through the Mineral Springs Greenway earlier this Fall, mother Jennifer Bittner commented on a need for benches. The Central Academy for Technology and Arts High School student quickly sought the opinion of some horseback riders passing by, and they voiced approval for some hitching trails on which to tie up their horses.
Through the events of that day, Bittner’s Eagle Scout project began to take shape and the rest, as they say, is history. Fast forward just a few short months later: Douglas has completed his Eagle Scout requirements, and residents of Mineral Springs have two benches and three hitching trails installed in three separate areas along the path of the young greenway.
Throughout the project and with just a little bit of carpentry knowledge, Douglas oversaw and led the construction process that gave him first-hand experience supervising a team that included adults. In total, 20 volunteers helped over the course of two sometimes rainy weekends to build the hitches and benches. And while the actual building took a total of 242 hours of work, the planning and approval, as well as the fundraising, were perhaps even more daunting.
To make this project a reality, Douglas had to draft a proposal and present his idea before the Boy Scouts’ District Council and the Mineral Springs Town Council, including Mayor Rick Becker.
“He had to answer all of their questions,” his mother recalled. “We were so proud of how well he answered those questions, and of how well he handled himself with adults.”
As part of his proposal, the Town Council asked for a projected budget, a copy of the bench design, and a map of the projected locations. The Council approved his proposal, and gave him money to get started. With the help of friends and family, as well as some materials donations, he soon had everything he needed to begin the construction process.
Perhaps the greatest lesson Douglas learned, however was about modifications, workarounds, and making decisions in a pinch when things don’t go according to plan. “I learned that it is ok to substitute materials,” he explained. “We were going to use 6x6s but ended up using 4x4s on the backside.”
Although Bittner has achieved the highest ranking possible in Scouts, and has just six badges left to complete, he has no plans to quit.
“I plan on staying in Scouts,” he said. Bittner has been a scout with the tight-knit Troop 18 since the first grade. Ten people from the original group remain, and three others have achieved the rank of Eagle Scout.
Scouting has given him the opportunity to take part in many adventures from white water rafting to canoeing and zip lining. In 2013, Bittner can look forward to attending the National Jamboree in West Virginia.
His mother is also a tremendous advocate of scouting.
“Douglas has grown tremendously with Scouts,” she said. “It opens doors in more ways than one and has given him tremendous leadership experience.”