KETCHIKAN — Brothers Taylor and Cooper McLaren each attained the rank of Eagle Scout recently after completing their final projects — a new picnic shelter and a fence at Settlers Cove.
Taylor McLaren, a 17-year-old junior at Ketchikan High School, has been nominated for the Glenn A. and Melinda W. Adams National Eagle Scout Service Award, which, according to Eagle Scout adviser Russell Thomas, “looks to recognize scouts whose projects go above and beyond.”
Taylor’s was chosen as one of the top five Eagle projects for Alaska, out of the 125 Eagle Scouts named in 2011.
Taylor said he logged about 400 hours of work completing the shelter. Thomas said Taylor worked almost like a general contractor on the project, having to plan and manage the entire venture. He started the project in July 2010 and finished it in October 2010, according to Thomas.
Scouts advancement chairman for southern Southeast Alaska, Greg Staunton of Ketchikan, said he nominated Taylor’s project for the award because of the magnitude of the project “for such a young man,” and also the importance of the project to the community.
Thomas said he was especially impressed with Taylor’s determination.
“He was really convinced that’s what he wanted to do,” Thomas said.
“I’m just proud of both boys; they were young and committed and focused,” Staunton said.
Cooper McLaren, a 15-year-old Kayhi sophomore, replaced a fence along a bluff next to the shelter, adding metal netting for extra safety. He also power-washed and stained the shelter and the fence, explaining that the stain will preserve the shelter, making it last about 10 years longer than it would without the protectant.
He said that he thought it was important to make sure the shelter was low maintenance also, so that “rangers can work on other things.”
His project, completed in June, required about 200 hours of work, he said.
Taylor said that the most difficult part of building the shelter was the planning. Thomas said Taylor worked more than 40 hours on planning. He said Taylor was dogged in continuing, despite resistance from adults who insisted the project was too ambitious.
Eagle Scout projects must be completed before the Scout’s 18th birthday, Thomas said, and he felt Taylor had time to finish, especially because Taylor was only 15 at the time.
“He was determined to do that project,” Thomas said.
The old shelter, Taylor said, was demolished by a huge tree section crushing it during a storm. The debris had been cleared away before Taylor started his project. The old fence that Cooper replaced was simply decrepit and rotten.
Thomas said Cooper’s project also required a significant amount of planning and management — to figure the days that concrete would have to be poured for fence posts, for instance. Determining materials, tools and manpower as well as the timing of each component were challenges that both brothers stepped up to, he said.
Cooper and Taylor said that scouting does not stop when an Eagle rank is reached. Eagle Scouts become mentors to younger scouts, earn different Eagle badges and can be a leader at a summer camp, for example.
When asked what they had enjoyed most about participating in Scouts over the years, both brothers agreed that the camping was the best, especially the games like capture the flag and fire-building contests.
When asked what was the most important thing that scouting teaches boys, Cooper and Taylor agreed: “To be prepared.”