TROY — Hoping to give back to the community while earning the highest scouting rank possible, one local teen recently completed his Eagle Scout project at Riverside Developmental Disabilities.
Preston Gambrell, a 15-year-old Troy High School student, took on the job of clearing out storage closets in the gym at Riverside, the county’s local board of developmental disabilities, and building new shelves to maximize space.
“We cleaned out and organized the storage for the Special Olympics program and their gear,” Gambrell said. “The shelves are to help make it easier to access the gear inside.”
When it came time to select a project, Gambrell decided he wanted to do something that wasn’t the typical park improvement project.
“I grew up around Riverside all my life, my mom works there,” he said.
He added that he wanted to raise awareness and help people with disabilities, but also to encourage other scouts to think outside the box when they look for projects.
According to Riverside’s Community Awareness and Opportunities Director Melissa Nichols, Gambrell’s project has been a huge help.
“The work Preston and his fellow scouts did has helped us maximize storage space in the closet in our gym,” Nichols said. “Riverside’s recreation staff can now more easily find and access the equipment used for activities, ensuring more time is focused on participants.”
The project itself went quickly, thanks to help from his fellow scouts, Boy Scout Troop 365, and from his family.
“I had a lot of people show up and a lot of support, so we got more than double what we thought done,” he added. He also got a big assist from Lowe’s, where he was given a discount on supplies, he said.
Gambrell started Cub Scouts in first grade with his friends because he thought scouting looked like fun.
“And it has been tons of fun,” Gambrell said.
He decided to pursue the Eagle Scout rank, not just because it looks good on a college application, but because only a very small percentage of Boy Scouts make it that far.
“I was taught to never give up on what you start, so I wanted to finish it,” he said.
The Eagle is the highest recognition a Scout can achieve and it is only granted after a lengthy review process. For Gambrell, the review process took about six months, from pitching the idea for the project to completion.
“I also had to work with the beneficiary to make sure they knew what they were getting,” he said. “I had to make sure it was good for me to do and also that it was what they needed.”
Each candidate must also earn at least 21 merit badges. According to the National Eagle Scout Association, about 2 million young men have achieved the rank since it was first awarded in 1912.
Reach Cecilia Fox at firstname.lastname@example.org.