To earn the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest honor in the Boy Scouts of America, Indian River High School senior Gunner Thompson knew that he had to select a service project that would make an impact.
He also knew that the school district’s designated outdoor learning center at Ingram’s Pond in Millsboro had plenty of potential projects that they needed help with. So when he called up to inquire about some of them, it was well-received, and he eventually decided to construct an easily accessible learning area for local students and teachers.
“I knew that they had projects that they needed,” Thompson explained. “I brought that up with them, and they seemed to love the idea, so we went forward with it.”
Timed appropriately with the installation of a new wetlands area, Thompson said that the location of the project was planned accordingly.
“We wanted to put it there — that way, instead of taking a half-mile hike into the woods, they could just take the kids five minutes from the actual facility,” he explained.
However, selecting the perfect project and perfect location was only half the battle, as Thompson took on a new role as senior patrol leader, though which he helped impart his already budding carpentry skills onto four other scouts who assisted with the project.
“You’re in charge of everything,” Thompson said of the position. “It teaches you a lot of leadership skills.”
Those newfound leadership skills were tested as the project went on for six months until completion, resulting in nine brand new benches and a podium — cut, constructed, sealed and installed in concrete to stand the test of time.
“It’s all marine-grade lumber, so it won’t be coming apart anytime soon,” Thompson explained. “Once we had everything together, we sanded it down, stained it and put a little bit of clear coat on it to seal it up.”
The end result was an overall success and warranted passing his Eagle board review; but to Thompson, it encompasses a goal that he’s been working toward for years.
“It means a lot to me,” he said of the honor. “I was a Cub. I started a little bit later than most people. I moved up in my own troop, and there were a lot of guys in there that I looked up to and most of them got Eagle. It kind of motivated me to be a little bit more like them.”
The example that he followed as a Cub Scout is the same as the one that he hopes to set now that’s he’s earned his own Eagle.
“I feel like people expect a lot more of me,” said Thompson of his expectations going forward. “I’m trying to be the person that they expect me to be.”
Thompson has passed his board of review, he officially received his Eagle Scout badge on June 13. He is already planning to use the skills that’s he’s learned and developed in the Scouts going forward, hoping to start his own carpentry business after graduating college.
“It’s a great opportunity for you to do a lot of cool things. In general, it teaches you a lot of life skills — it’s helped me in school,” Thompson said of the Eagle program’s merits. “It teaches you to go above and beyond.”