Tools to succeed: Troop helps fellow Scout complete Eagle project

A group of Boy Scouts from Troop 526 recently spent a Saturday morning using hammers and nails to build portable walls for a fellow Scout’s Eagle project at the Seymour Museum.

The sound of their efforts was overpowering at times, making it nearly impossible to hear for anyone trying to have a conversation.

But their leader, Dale Sandlin, heard something entirely different.

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“That hammering is the sound of music to me,” he said while taking a break from watching 17-year-old Scout Elliott Hughel pull his Eagle Scout project together.

“Those sounds tell me our boys are building walls that will stand as long as they need them to stand up here at the museum,” Sandlin said. “They did it together, and I have not seen any blood or heard any ‘ows’ yet, and that’s a good thing.”

Hughel, who is just weeks away from earning his Eagle Scout rank, decided to take on the task of building a couple of movable walls for one of three rooms for an interactive adventure game at the Seymour Museum. Those walls also can be used elsewhere in the museum at Third and Chestnut streets, which is a work in progress.

The interactive game rooms are just a part of what is being planned for the museum. There will be historical exhibits, a room for movies and meetings, model trains and much more, said Lenny Hauersperger, a member of the museum’s board.

The adventure game involves a small group of people being placed in a locked room. They then have to use the elements of the room and find a way out within a set time period, generally an hour or less.

Adventure rooms can be found across the country, and each is set in a fictional location.

In the case of the one being put in place at the Seymour Museum, the fictional location is a train car because of the city’s history with the railroads.

People playing the game will first enter the train car, which will be in a room without windows near the back of the museum.

They will have to get a key from a safe to escape that room into the second room, designed to look like a train depot. That room will include a maze that uses the movable walls Elliott and his fellow Scouts built. A third room will serve as a waiting area for the next group to play the game.

The idea for the local game sprang from Dr. Nate Otte, who will be the gamemaster, and Tonja Couch, executive director of Jackson County United Way, Hauersperger said.

The gamemaster designs scenarios for the adventure games, and Otte already has some put together, Hauersperger said.

Museum board member Shirley Runge first brought Otte and Hughel together, he said.

Hauersperger said the theme of the game will be based on the Reno Brothers, who staged the first train robbery in Seymour on Oct. 6, 1866.

“The goal is to find the lost treasure,” Hauersperger said.

He said the hope is to have the game ready for play within the year.

Hughel said he has spent most of the past year planning the project to build the walls.

That planning included meeting with Otte to see what was needed for the game, meeting with the museum board for their blessing and then talking with the local Knights of Columbus to obtain some grant money.

Sandlin said the meetings are an important part of the process of becoming an Eagle Scout.

“That was all him,” he said. “There were not any adults doing it for him.”

A potential Eagle Scout is in charge of the project he comes up with and oversees the volunteers, generally Scouts in his troop, to complete it, Sandlin said.

After Hughel’s project was finished, he said he still needed two more merit badges to finish up his Eagle Scout requirements.

He figured that would take a couple of more weeks.

“It means a lot to me,” Hughel said of becoming an Eagle Scout.

“That was always a long-term goal after I became a Cub Scout in first grade,” he said.

Hauersperger said the project is a win-win for all involved.

“It helps the Scout troop get some community service,” he said. “It helps him get his Eagle Scout. Plus, it helps the museum because we will do fundraisers with this and bring in more money.”

There will be some additional work on the game, Hauersperger said.

“But it won’t be long before it’s at the point where we can bring Dr. Otte back in to get his vision,” he said.

Sandlin said Scouts always work well together despite the age differences.

“You have 16- and 17-year-old boys in there working with new Scouts who are 11 years old,” Sandlin said. “They are there to show them what to do and help them just like being big brothers to them without being asked to do it or being told to do it. I think that’s what I like about Scouting the most. They bridge that gap to say, ‘You are one of us because you are a part of this troop.’”

Sandlin said it’s hard but not impossible to keep older Scouts focused on earning the rank of Eagle Scout, but he has had several over the years, including his sons.

“The three Cs come into play,” he said. “The car, the chicks and the cash, but mostly the cash. You just have to keep their interest in what they are trying to accomplish.”

Becoming an Eagle Scout means a lot and can pay dividends in many ways, Sandlin said.

“In the military, it’s an automatic rank advancement,” he said. “Colleges will have degrees set up for Eagle Scouts, and some even offer scholarships for Eagle Scouts. Being an Eagle Scout allows them a lot more opportunities, and then there’s the leadership side of things. A lot of youth are not given that opportunity or that coaching and guidance to build those traits.”

During an Eagle Scout project, the potential Eagle is mainly there to supervise, Sandlin said.

“We’re looking for leadership skills,” he said.

An Eagle Scout candidate may pick up a hammer and help out the other Scouts but cannot do the project by themselves, Sandlin said.

That includes making sure the Scouts helping with the project are kept busy, he said.

“So they don’t become bored,” Sandlin said.

The Eagle Scout candidate also can enlist adults, especially when it comes to needing something cut with a saw.

“That’s because anyone under the age of 18 cannot operate a power saw,” Sandlin said.

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Prospective Eagle Scouts must meet all of their requirements, which include merit badges and a community service project, among other things, before their 18th birthday, according to the Boy Scouts handbook.

The year New Yorker Arthur Eldred became the first Eagle Scout (1912), just 23 boys earned the rank. Last year, that grew to more than 50,000 making Eagle Scouts, according to Scouting Magazine.