Three horse stalls were in place on one side of a barn at Reins to Recovery Inc. Therapeutic Riding Center north of Reddington.
The other side remained empty for about a year and a half.
The plan was to someday build three more stalls to give the center’s horses a place to stay when they weren’t helping children and adults with disabilities, victims of violence and abuse and at-risk youth.
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Enter Chandler Day.
The 16-year-old, who recently completed his sophomore year at Brownstown Central High School, is a member of Boy Scout Troop 559, based at Asbury United Methodist Church in Columbus.
The time came for him to choose his Eagle Scout project. Once he learned about Reins to Recovery, he thought it would be a great opportunity to help a nonprofit organization.
His fellow Scouts and some adults came together for a few workdays, totaling more than 300 hours, to complete the project.
“This actually looks really nice, and this is one of the biggest things I’ve ever built,” said Day, who has been in Boy Scouts for 11 years. “It’s hard to describe the results of all of this, of all of the people coming together and building these amazing three stalls.”
Eagle Scout is the Boy Scouts of America’s highest honor. Only 4 percent of youth who belong to Boy Scouts earn that rank.
While working toward the rank, a Boy Scout may receive help in completing a project, but he must be the leader of it.
James Lasher, Day’s mentor and a volunteer at Reins to Recovery, helped him take measurements inside the barn and put together a list of needed materials.
Then Lasher and Day’s father, Daniel Day, received bids on material and picked up lumber to make three 10-by-10-foot stalls.
Discounts or donations were given by Landmark Farm Foundation, Grammer Industries, John Whittington, Lowe’s and 84 Lumber.
“If it wasn’t for the Whittington family and obviously the people that were giving us discounts with the lumber and stuff, it would have been a lot harder project to have gotten done,” Daniel said.
Then it was up to Chandler to organize workdays and schedule people to help.
Each time, he said he had more than 10 Scouts helping along with some adults.
Alhough challenging, the project was rewarding, Chandler said.
“I felt very happy because I got to order the adults around, which is pretty rare for me to do,” he said, smiling. “Seeing a huge number of Scouts work together, that’s something I rarely see because usually, we’re all scattered. It’s pretty amazing, and it was under my leadership, and I felt that’s a great accomplishment for me. I was able to lead so many people to do such a big thing.”
Lasher said Chandler did a good job giving directions and making sure everyone had food and water and was safe.
“I would kind of give him some direction, and then he would get the other Scouts involved. He was even directing the adults where to go and where to help,” Lasher said. “It was his project, and when he was out here, he took ownership of it.”
It was a unique opportunity for Lasher, who earned the Eagle Scout rank in 1992. He grew up in New Jersey, and his project was restoring nearly 30 bicycles for an orphanage.
This was his first time helping a Boy Scout earn the top rank.
“It’s great to see those leadership skills develop because that’s a lot of what you get out of these Eagle Scout projects is learning how to be a leader and manage time and manage people,” Lasher said. “It’s neat to see him develop those skills, and he’s going to be able to use those his whole life now, too.”
Daniel, who serves as a committee member with the troop, said it was great to watch his son lead the project.
“You couldn’t have a prouder father, that’s for sure,” Daniel said, smiling. “Chandler is a very hard worker and is very dedicated to Scouts. He spends a lot of time in Scouts. He’s all about Boy Scouts, and to see him grow up from a little boy to a young man taking on projects like this and leading other youth doing it, it was really fascinating for me to sit back and watch him.”
Daniel said he was in awe of his son.
“He just stepped right up and led these guys,” Daniel said. “There was one day he had 12 Scouts here and three adults. That was it, and he led the whole thing.”
Scoutmaster Steve Stanton also was impressed with Chandler’s leadership.
“The idea is to make them leaders for the future, and the Eagle Scout project is one the last requirements for the rank of Eagle,” Stanton said. “It allows the Scout to demonstrate what he has learned, and hopefully, you’ve trained him well. Chandler definitely exhibited all of the training that you hope that he had taken.”
Once the project was completed, Stanton liked what he saw at Reins to Recovery.
“You look at it and think, ‘Wow! We did that? We really did that.’ It is very cool,” he said.
“It’s even more cool for the young men to come out and work,” Stanton said. “It is an opportunity to try something new. A lot of young men have no idea about construction. They did it, and they did a majority of the work. That’s the reward the adults get out of these. You think, ‘Oh, they did listen to me at least a little bit.’”
Calli Johnson, executive director of Reins to Recovery, said it may have taken awhile to get the stalls constructed if Chandler wouldn’t have stepped up. She heavily relies on volunteers to help at the center.
“We started our efforts to get these six stalls built a year and a half ago,” she said. “It was one of the very first projects. It took every bit of that year and a half to gain the resources and the labor and the manpower and the help to do these (three existing stalls).”
She was amazed to see Chandler and his crew build the other three stalls in a short amount of time.
“It was amazing to see the support not just from the organization that you chose to work with and to help us but from Boy Scouts in general. Just how they have each other’s backs in the leadership, that is phenomenal,” she said to Chandler.
“You should be very proud of yourself and the work you did,” she said. “It was also just amazing for someone to organize, go out on his own with every little help from your mentors and us to make this project happen. I’m proud of you. Nice work.”
Now that Chandler has earned the Eagle Scout rank, it’s something he will carry with him the rest of his life. He hopes the rank will help him land a job as a commercial pilot.
“I feel that I’ve benefited from this because it helps me deal with other big projects, too,” he said. “This also helps me realize what I can do for leadership because I have to do so many responsibilities outside of Scouts, as well, and I can use those skills from this to apply to the real world later in life.”
Daniel said now that other Scouts know about Reins to Recovery, they may choose to do a project there, too.
“I have a feeling Chandler will be spending quite a bit of time back out here,” Daniel said of his son returning to help his fellow Scouts.
Chandler said he is proud of his accomplishment.
“All I can say is that I didn’t do this alone,” he said. “I had a bunch of help, and without the help of the Scouts and my sponsors, this wouldn’t exist.”