Path to merit: Eagle Scout organizes shoreline walkway at Silverton Reservoir

July 2018 Posted in Community, Garden
Ethan Frederick, Eagle Scout (3)

Frederick’s Eagle Scout project was to build a water-access point and path at Silverton Reservoir. Brenna Wiegand

By Brenna Wiegand

Ethan Frederick, 15, started thinking about his Eagle Scout project when he was 12.

Eagle Scout is the highest achievement attainable in the Boy Scouts of America program. The endeavor culminates with executing a large service project that benefits the community.

Frederick recently completed the walkway at Silverton Reservoir.

“I was working at the Lions Club’s Free Fish Day a few years ago and saw all these people swimming between the docks where it’s not allowed,” Frederick said. “Now there’s a safe area to swim and it’s a lot easier to launch canoes and kayaks.”

It started with rocks, rocks, and more rocks. A housing project on Steelhammer Road unearthed large boulders Frederick was able to store at Silverton City Shops the past two years. The volunteers he enlisted logged about 560 hours which included moving 155 tons of boulders, 34 tons of gravel, 1.5 tons of sand, 85 tons of fill material and 2.7 tons of retaining wall blocks.

“With all the brush you couldn’t even tell what the hillside looked like right to the water,” he said. “The city didn’t want us to carve into the bank so about half the walkway is over the water.

“I ran into problems and I fixed them; I learned how to improvise,” Frederick said. “The Eagle Scout project is all about applying what you’ve learned in a way that helps out your community. My grandfather was an Eagle Scout back in the ‘40s in Pennsylvania and for his project he planted a 40-acre forest in a reclaimed slag area.”

Scoutmaster Steve Potter started the local Boy Scout troop in 1988 when his sons were ready and since 1991 has led the senior troop. Under his guidance 41 boys earned the Eagle Scout rank.

“A lot of the parents don’t understand why they’re getting all sweaty and tying knots and all these silly things we do,” Potter said. “It’s a series of physical and emotional challenges at each level, whether you’re a clumsy fourth grader or an 18-year-old three-sport athlete.”

Potter calls his work with scouting a “habit.” His other habits, in addition to a full-time job, include leadership roles in Silverton Lions Club, his church and ski patrol. The whole Frederick family is grateful for him.

“Mr. Potter’s done a lot for scouting,” Ethan said. “We go on a backpacking trip and he outpaces us – it’s amazing.”

Potter said that for a bunch of boys this walkway was a major construction project. Other troop members have checked smoke detectors for seniors, cleaned and painted at the Methodist church and improved the recreational area at Robert Frost Elementary, to name a recent few.

“What they do is not as important as the fact that they do it,” Potter said. “The real aim is providing challenges for them to solve – and learning to ask for help is part of leadership. The toughest part is finding something to do and it has become a lot harder because of liability issues.”

For his project Frederick raised $1,205; it ended up costing about $1,218.

“I had to take $13 out of my pocket, but if I actually had to rent or buy everything it would be $10,000,” Frederick said.

He has earned 31 merit badges including one for a 64-mile bike ride when he was 11. The memory still makes him shudder.

“I was so done,” he said. The 135 merit badges available include such diverse topics as canoeing, fingerprinting, family life, fish and wildlife management, horsemanship, environmental science, riflery and digital technology robotics.

“Of all the things I’ve learned, the leadership skills will be the most valuable,” Ethan said. “No matter where you go and what you do there will be situations where you’re going to lead.”

Ethan’s parents Ward and Julie Frederick have watched him develop through scouting and especially in this comprehensive Eagle Scout undertaking. At times it’s hard to believe he’s just 15.

“We’re proud of all the work he put into this and how he’s been doing in Scouts in general,” his father said. “This is something that’s going to have an impact on the community – and it will benefit the troop to have a 15-year-old leader present over the next few years; most Eagle Scouts are turning 18 and then they’re gone.”

Though Ethan doesn’t enjoy swimming himself, he knew he was on the right track when they started laying the boards and people started coming through with their inner tubes. “I look at it and say, ‘I did this and it’s better because of me,’” he said.

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