Tristan Smyth has been involved in Boy Scouts since he was 11 years old. Now as an active member of Ocean View Troop 281, he hopes to attain the coveted rank of Eagle Scout.
Smyth, who turns 18 this month, said he wasn’t planning on earning his Eagle until he sat down with his good friend Josh Mueller, who earned his Eagle two years ago.
“In December I wasn’t sure if I was going to continue through, but then with Josh, we sat down and talked about it and that I could do it,” he said. “You usually want a year to do your project, and I had six months.”
Smyth said through Mueller’s guidance he found the South Bethany Adopt a Canal-End Program, and decided to tackle it for his project.
“First I had to go through an application process and that went smoothly. Then in Boy Scouting, I had to have a proposal, basically a prewrite-up which I had to send off. I had to sketch everything out, explain what I was going to do. Give a general idea as to how much money it would cost. Once that was approved I just went for it.”
South Bethany Councilwoman Sue Calloway, who also runs the program, said Smyth had to go through the same process as all other adoptees.
“His applicantion was completed in March. We met prior to that and went over the responsibilities, the commitment, and all of the parameters of the program,” she explained.
Once he had a plan for the canal-end, Smyth went to Roots Landscaping, where they gave him a discount on plants, and also some advice about what to plant.
“The town wanted all native plants, so they showed me some and made suggestions,” he explained, adding that he planted a number of plants including dwarf crape mryltles, knockout roses and switch grass.
With the help of some fellow scouts, Smyth was able to complete the transformation in just a few days.
On the actual planting day, part of the commitment for the Eagle Scout project is that you involve other young scouts. So there were several young men out there. That was rewarding to see, I was really pleased,” said Callaway.
Along with the native plantings, Smyth also installed a handmade bench where people can sit.
“My grandfather who’s a retired doctor in his spare time does some woodworking. He was making some benches for my mom’s café. I said I needed one for my project, so he brought me all of the pieces, and explained how to put it together, and I put it together.”
Callaway said it was nice to see a young man be active in the community in such a positive way.
“He’s just a very busy young man. He’s a very good student, involved in sports, he works. He’s just a busy productive young man. He was very responsive and really followed through. It’s really nice to highlight something really positive is young person is doing… that’s a good thing.”
Smyth said he was able to fund his project through generous donations given at his mother’s Bethany Beach store, Turtle Beach Café.
“I had a donation jar set up saying, ‘Donations for Tristan Smyth’s Eagle Scout Project.’ So that’s actually where I got all of my money for it.”
To earn his Eagle rank, Smyth must also hold a troop leadership position for at least six months, as well as complete numerous merit badges and service hours.
“Altogether, I probably had more than 300 hours of community service on this. If you include all the planning,” said Smyth.
Callaway said that with all who adopt a canal-end in South Bethany, Smyth agreed to care for the plot for the next year.
“Through the South Bethany Adopt Program I have to maintain it for at least a year, which is watering, weeding, basic upkeep,” he explained. “After that, it’s not required to keep doing it but I’m still going to. When I go off to college my mom will help take care of it.”
Smyth, who will be a senior at Indian River High School in the fall said he is unsure where he will attend college but plants to study sports medicine. He said he’s thankful to have been involved in Boy Scouts over the years.
“I know there’s a lot of pressure, like ‘oh scouting it’s weird,’ or whatever. You can take it how you want it. It’s a good thing. I surf, I play three different varsity sports and I’m still a scout,” he said. “It gives you a lot of life skills. All the camping and stuff is fun, but I’m amazed at how much scouting has been in my every day life, like basic know-how.”
Once he becomes a fullfledged Eagle, Smyth plans to continue staying involved in the troop, and wants to help guide other young scouts through the process.
“I’m going to stay involved. After I turn 18, I’m going to get my Eagle Scout and I’ll become an assistant scoutmaster. I’ll still go to all the events, help out. I definitely want to stay involved, it’s a very good thing. I’m going to try and help make other Eagle Scouts happen.”
Of his project, Smyth said he wanted to thank Josh Mueller and Wayne Stacey for their help and guidance. He added that it was amazing to see his project come to fruition, and actively better his community.
“I have before and after picture when there were all these juniper bushes and it didn’t look so good and now it’s this,” he said. “I feel proud that this is my project — like, I did this.”