The Ottumwa Courier

October 22, 2012

Boy Scouts lead the way with improvements on lodge

MARK NEWMAN
Courier Staff Writer

OTTUMWA — The woodland echoes of hammering, buzz saws and laughter Saturday helped prove that while local Boy Scouts are willing to accept assistance, they’re not going to sit by and let you do all the work.

“We’re repairing a faulty roof on Strother’s Lodge and maintaining what we have,” said Cortney Webber, property superintendent for the Mid-Iowa Council, Boy Scouts of America.

Dyami Nicholson, 14, was helping clear the old shingles away from the sides of the structure.

“We camp out here a lot because there’s 60 acres out back with [16] campsites,” Dyami said of the property, known as Strother’s Lodge and Foster Acres.

Sometimes they’ll use the lodge to prepare meals. Or if the weather turns dangerous, the troop will head into the lodge for the night.

A leaky roof wouldn’t make that night very enjoyable.

Not only do the Boy Scouts use the land and facility, but other community youth groups get use out of it, as do instructors in the IHCC childcare program.  

“With the funding the Legacy Foundation gave us,” Webber said, “we were able to leverage those resources into a project [valued at] twice the donation.”

The roofing and improvements on the lodge and in the camping area could have been hired out for $18,000 to $20,000, he estimated.

“This is one of those unique ‘little’ jobs that can all be built with volunteers,” Webber said.

The Ottumwa Regional Legacy Foundation gave them $9,000 through the Bright Ideas grant program, and with his troop of volunteers, he said the job will get done just fine.

The boys weren’t expected to do everything. The adults were more active with the power tools, for example. But the scouts were learning.

“My dad wanted me to help,” said Arun Graeff, 15, who had just grabbed a drill for his father, Ron.

He had helped with a building project before, assisting a potential Eagle Scout with putting up a wall.

“I feel as a Boy Scout, I should try to do a good job every day,” Arun explained.

That doesn’t mean the scout sees himself as a construction expert.

“I know how to help,” he said.

There was another teachable moment for the scouts, too, as the Boy Scouts of America continue to encourage members to leave as little impact on nature as possible. The new latrine being built out in the 60-acre wilderness will use no water and require no pump out. The “green” technology will turn waste into compost.

“It’s low impact, environmentally friendly,” said Webber of the pollution-free facility.

Encouraging young people to pitch in getting stuff done around the community is something that makes Webber proud.

“The boys, the adult leaders, they’re taking their Saturday to do this when I’m sure they have things they’d rather be doing,” he said.

Twenty years from now, if the lodge needed more work, the boys out there Saturday may be the first in line to work on “their” lodge.

“Something you build with your own two hands, you take a lot more pride and more ownership in,” said Webber.