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 | By Bob Horning

An Eagle on the playground Dylan constructed a play structure as a Scout project

Constructing his Eagle Scout project was the easy part for Dylan Clark. It took one day. The paperwork leading up to it was the challenge. That took over two years.

Dylan, 19, is a 2011 graduate of Manchester High School, a member of St. Dominic Catholic Church in Clinton and a former member of Scout Troop 426. He discussed several ideas for his Eagle project with his mother, Mary, before deciding to build a new play structure for the children of migrant workers at DuRussel Farms. “I worked there during the summers,” he says. “The old set that the kids had was OK, but I noticed that they really could use a new one.”

Dylan was eager to start building as soon as his proposal was accepted. Two problems surfaced quickly, however. One was a learning disability that sometimes causes him confusion when reading or writing. He needed to do a lot of both in order to submit his proposal to the local troop. They needed a binder full of plans, diagrams of the structure and its location, safety procedures, fund-raising ideas, estimated cost of materials, and much more.

Secondly, the person overseeing the project from the Boy Scout Council wanted to make sure Dylan had all the paperwork complete and correct, causing several rewrites. The process dragged on and on and Dylan didn’t know how to speed it up. Both he and his mother considered quitting. “I thought he would give up,” Mary says. The paperwork ordeal was so frustrating that I was crying at times.”

Dylan said that what kept him going was his goal of helping the kids, his mother’s encouragement and thinking of all the hard work he had done to get to that point.

Finally, everything was in order, and on a Saturday in spring of 2011, Dylan and his father, Greg, went to the farm early to cut the wood and have it ready when everyone arrived later that day. “Through being a Boy Scout, I had been gradually learning about communication and leadership,” Dylan said. “That Saturday helped me grow in those areas. When I asked my parents and those helping to do something, they did it. That felt nice. I saw that I could take charge when I needed to.”

When they finished the structure, Dylan was happy and relieved. He said, “All I needed then was for the final paperwork to be signed and I would be an Eagle Scout.

“The kids at the camp were happy, too. They absolutely love the new set. Within two days, the grass underneath it was worn away from all the use.” Most years, there are 10 to 15 children at the farm, and the new structure is large enough for at least seven at a time.”

Arcelia Ortiz, a migrant worker, said her grandchildren play on it all the time. “If you don’t know where the kids are, just go to the structure,” she said. “The older children push the younger ones on the swings. They all learn to play together by taking turns on the swings and slide. There is even an airplane swing for the babies.”

Dylan figures he put in 173 hours on the project, primarily preparation. He says, “My faith helped me to not quit when I was struggling on the paperwork,  and to get back to doing. Kind of like what I learned through scouting – that you can’t get anywhere in life without trying, plus a little elbow grease.”