By: Yilin Liang
Photo courtesy of Michael Underwood
The Boy Scouts of America organization is most commonly associated with the outdoors and building character through community service and learning. Members start at the lower levels of scouting and increase in rank to eventually become an Eagle Scout. Before becoming an Eagle Scout, scouts must finish their own Eagle Leadership Project.
Senior Shaun Yee was introduced to scouting in second grade, but became a scout in 2005 when he joined Troop 476. “In second grade, I saw kids at my school wearing cool uniforms and having lots of fun, and it turned out to be exactly that,” he said. For his Eagle Leadership project, Yee filmed a public service announcement for the Boys’ Lacrosse team. “My passion has long remained in the art of storytelling,” he said. “This was a unique opportunity to practice and utilize the skills I have learned so far in a time crunch.”
The filming for Yee’s project took one week, but he planned the project for a month in advance. Yee has learned a lot from his time as a scout. “The scout motto “Be Prepared” has helped me through more than a couple situations of high tension and/or risk,” he said. “It has reminded me to stay focused and determined. I can also extrapolate it to any part of my life.” Yee plans to stay involved with scouting even after high school. “I will be involved in scouting for as long as I can hold myself upright,” he said.
Senior Oliver Johnson started in 2000 as a Cub Scout. “I got involved with my dad in Cub Scouts,” he said. His leadership project was about renovating the bicycle rack area at his church. Johnson first became interested in this project due to the suggestion of his high school youth pastor.
Over the course of a day, he led a group that extended the bicycle area to create space for more bicycle racks. Johnson attributes many of his skills to his experiences as a scout. “It’s influenced me in knowing how to handle the outdoors a little better,” he said. “I feel safe being out there by myself.” Johnson is still currently involved in and attends meetings for his troop.
Senior Michael Underwood first became familiar with scouting after listening to a friend in a troop. He decided to join and became a member of Troop 14. For his Eagle Leadership project, Underwood renovated the outside space of the Abilities United building, an organization that benefits people with developmental disabilities. “My brother’s developmentally disabled so I figured I could work at a place that could affect his life,” he said.
For his project, Underwood led a group that replaced the tanbark in the medians of the parking lot, repainted edges of planter box so they would be more visible and re-varnished the benches. The project took a weekend to complete, but Underwood planned a month and a half in advance for it. Besides his work as an Eagle Scout, Underwood was also involved in various leadership roles within the Boy Scouts organization such as being the Senior Patrol Leader for his troop. “More than anything, being an Eagle Scout is about going all the way through with something and having the ability to finish something,” he said. “It’s a big thing to go through all the ranks.”
Senior Michael Ishimoto became involved in Cub Scouts in first grade because his brother had been a scout as well. His Eagle Leadership Project was building the benches near the computer science room on campus. “I saw those benches and they were pretty destroyed, so I asked if I could fix those,” Ishimoto said.
Junior Arjun Dubashi first joined Cub Scouts in second grade with two of his friends. “Those days it was all outings and fun and games,” he said. “From there, it was a natural progression to Boy Scouts. Many of my friends continued with Boy Scouts, and others found different interests. It seems unreal to have finished my Eagle Project.”
For his Leadership Project, Dubashi led a group that built three benches, a tree well and trellises for the Terman Middle School Art Room. “I wanted to help the community of Palo Alto, and I wanted to help the school that I had gone to,” he said. “The Terman Art Room has an outdoor space where students can hang out but it was a mess and there was no place for them to sit. Now they have a place to sit and eat lunch.”
Dubashi hopes to be involved in Eagle Scouts for as long as possible. “An Eagle Scout means many things,” he said. “It means being reliable and dependable and someone you can count on. But it also means being able to have fun and enjoy excursions and activities like hiking and cooking.”