By Caitlin Marsch, Current Staff
When there wasn’t enough space for the community to sit, a local student decided to take a stand.
Evan Beekman, a junior at West Bend West High School, built two circular benches in Jackson Park for his Eagle Scout project. Although the project was completed in the fall of 2016, he was recognized for his achievement in October of this year.
“We didn’t have enough seating area,” Beekman said. “We need more seating area all the time in Jackson Park for people to sit down during Action in Jackson.”
Action in Jackson is a local festival held every summer in the park.
Beekman detailed the process that went into building the benches. First, there was the planning. He researched the design and calculated the cost. Then he made a PowerPoint presentation at a village meeting. Next he solicited donations and they funded almost the entire project.
“I was able to talk to a local lumber mill, and they donated all of the composite wood, which is what we used for what you actually sit on, because it doesn’t wear down as much,” he said. “We used the money to buy extra tools we would need, supporting wood and for plaques thanking those who donated.”
Then came the actual assembly.
“I sat there with my dad and we cut wood for four or five hours, and the next day we had a bunch of scouts volunteering and coming over where we assembled,” Beekman said.
After that, they split the benches up, drove them to Jackson Park and reassembled them. At that point, the project was finished.
Completion of this project was what led to Beekman finally achieving his goal of becoming an Eagle Scout. Along with a sense of pride in helping the community, he also gained some personal insight.
“You can only earn Eagle before your 18th birthday if you haven’t gotten Eagle yet, I was able to complete it before I even turned 17,” he said. “It is a really big achievement for me because I never thought I would ever get to this point. And now that I have, I feel like I can do a whole lot more. I realized that I can help the community.”
“I feel like I can do a whole lot more.”
– Evan Beekman
However, the project was just one final step on a long road to becoming an Eagle Scout, as it takes years of diligent, dedicated scouting to reach that point. According to the National Eagle Scout Association, an Eagle Scout must consistently fulfill specific requirements in the areas of leadership, service and outdoor skills. Only 5% of all Boy Scouts earn this rank.
“When I was just joining Cub Scouts in elementary school, first grade or so, I never thought that I was going to ever make it to Boy Scouts, or even come close to Eagle Scouts,” Beekman said. “It was just a fun thing to do. Once I got to Life Scout, which is the one right before Eagle, it hit me that I was almost an Eagle, so why not just finish this?”
Even after completing the project, there was still work Beekman had to do to officially become an Eagle Scout.
“There’s a bunch of paperwork you have to do,” he said. “I’d have to say if it wasn’t for my parents, and for my older scout leader, I would not have been able to finish it.”
He noted how large the file size was: almost a gigabyte. As the average cell phone contains 16 gigabytes, the paperwork alone would take up six percent of a phone.
“You definitely need help from other people,” Beekman said.
Beekman’s mother is proud of her son’s achievement and reports that the community’s reaction to the benches has been very appreciative.
“For the family, it brings a smile to all of our faces to see the Jackson community use the benches during our village celebration, Action in Jackson, as well as during concerts,” Sue Beekman said. “I’m also happy that he achieved the rank of Eagle Scout, a rank that is very highly regarded. This is an achievement that takes many years of dedication and perseverance. I believe that all of the Scouts who have achieved this prestigious rank should be commended for their work.”
Although the project is completed, Evan still has plans to improve the benches. However, even that poses challenges.
“I’m planning on putting in flowers this coming spring, just around the place, flowers that will always come back up,” Beekman said. “The issue is I’m not very good at figuring out what would look nice, so I’m going to be asking other people for their opinions.”
Beekman has advice for anyone aiming to reach Eagle Scout status.
“No matter where you are in scouting, it’s always a good thing to aim for,” he said. “You can definitely achieve this, anyone can achieve this if they put their mind to it and actually go for it.”
(Photos courtesy of Evan Beekman.)