Before and After: The 10 top Eagle Scout project transformations of 2015-2016

Sometimes, it’s like night and day.

You look at a spot of land before an Eagle Scout candidate has completed his project there. Then you look at that exact same spot after the project is done.

The transformation is so stunning that you’re tempted to ask whether you have entered a parallel universe.

But no. Same universe. The difference is that Scouting happened there.

Since mid-2015, I have asked for Eagle Scout project before-and-after photos. You know, the same photos prospective Eagles are asked to include with their post-project report.

While I’m still accepting submissions for the series, today’s all about looking back. Each of the more than 200 submissions has been a remarkable example of the power of Scouting service. You can browse the full Eagle Before & After archives here.

But today I wanted to highlight 10 that stand out — in one writer’s opinion — as some of the best.

TIP: Use the slider below each image to see the before and after photos.

The Civil War cemetery

Who: Nathan, Troop 413, Hendersonville, Tenn.

What: Nathan restored a Civil War-era cemetery by cleaning up the overgrowth of vegetation, building a new fence and repairing some of the broken tombstones.

Bryan’s comments: Civil War-era cemeteries across the country are in need of some heavy TLC, but Nathan’s project goes beyond simply fixing knocked-over headstones. His work ensures that the dead are never forgotten.

The church prayer garden

Who: Matthew, Troop 1025, Washington, Pa.

What: Matthew built a prayer garden for his church/chartered organization. That included a fence to hide the air-conditioning units, two benches, a brick walkway, two dogwood trees, two white rose bushes and various flowers.

Bryan’s comments: Churches are a popular beneficiary for Eagle Scout projects, but Matthew’s work stands out because it fills both a want and a need. The church wanted a nicer-looking entrance and kind of needed a way to hide those unsightly air-conditioning units.

The baggage cart

Who: Stephen, Troop 506, Buffalo, N.Y.

What: Stephen restored a baggage cart from the Buffalo Central Terminal for public display.

Bryan’s comments: Not all Eagle projects are restorations to places. Sometimes things are rejuvenated. Like this baggage cart, which Stephen and his guys converted from a piece of junk among weeds to a historical artifact.

The shoe drive

Who: Uyless, Troop 60, Goliad, Texas

What: Uyless and his helpers collected 556 pairs of new athletic shoes for an orphanage. That’s more shoes than students in his entire high school.

Bryan’s comments: I included this as a reminder that not all projects are construction based, a point I have emphasized on this blog again and again and again. This shoe drive will make a lasting impact on the community for a long time.

The dock

Who: Ben, Troop 820, Pittsboro, N.C.

What: Ben built a floating dock for the Carolina Living and Learning Center.

Bryan’s comments: I mean, here we go from “no dock” to “yes dock.” What more must be said? The addition makes this lake a more accessible spot for the adults with autism at this integrated vocational and residential program in North Carolina.

The war memorial

Who: Chris, Troop 33, Riverside, Pa.

What: Chris took an existing war memorial and enhanced it by representing all military branches.

Bryan’s comments: In the before, notice how the memorial stone is almost hidden — an afterthought. In the after, its prominence has grown significantly. The flags salute all of the branches of the military, making this spot somewhere that honors all of our heroes in uniform.

The cabins

Who: Grant, Troop 81, Memphis, Tenn.

What: Grant and his team refurbished cabins used at Camp Phoenix — a summer camp for inner-city kids on Sardis Lake, Miss. They painted the cabins, rescreened them, replaced the shutters and had the roofs replaced.

Bryan’s comments: In Greek mythology, a phoenix is a bird that is reborn. At Camp Phoenix, owned by the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Memphis, a different kind of rebirth took place. Grant and his guys gave new life to the cabins enjoyed by inner-city kids.

The community fieldhouse

Who: Ryan, Troop 916, Evanston, Ill.

What: Ryan and his team built several planter boxes and repainted a local community fieldhouse at an Evanston park.

Bryan’s comments: This is a fun one to slide back and forth and watch all the improvements. In addition to rejuvenating the fieldhouse itself, Ryan left behind some nice-looking planter boxes that add some living color to the place. It looks like they even got rid of all the snow!

The cemetery entrance

Who: Jesse, Troop 101, Mount Pleasant, Texas

What : Jesse and his team replaced an old cemetery entryway with a new arched entryway and dedicated it to his grandparents buried there.

Bryan’s comments: It’s enough just to see the before-and-after photos showing the impressive transformation. But couple that with the plaque announcing that Jesse had dedicated his efforts to his late grandparents? That puts this project over the top.

The baseball field

Who: Austin, Troop 387, Cynthiana, Ind.

What: Austin and his team completed a total renovation of the local ball field, including building dugouts, fixing the fence, realigning the bases and extending the infield.

Bryan’s comments: This complete overhaul is a real home run, and I’m betting it’s a real hit with the youngsters who play there. Austin, you really covered all the bases!

6 Comments

  1. Great job on most of those but really, I was disappointed that some of them were even approved much less posted as a top 10. Also I am so disappointed that they took pictures in casual dress while I think they would have been proud of their project and purpose of their projects to wear Class A uniform. Kudos to those scouts that did wear their Class A and as much to their leaders and parents for re-enforcing of the importance of uniform and following the rules. Somewhere in the progression of things adult leaders decided that when a BSA rule says you will wear a BSA uniform socks that they could substitute what ever sock they wanted. Well if the rule says BSA socks then that’s what should be worn. It the rule. If BSA changes the rule fine but when it is the current rule leaders and adults should enforce the rule. I’m glad that you publish this but fear for the integrity of the rank if some of these are the best we have.
    Leandro Gutierrez, Eagle ’83

  2. It would be interesting to see a list of approved projects across time!
    (If a Scout wants to map out those locations as a project I’d gladly help with it)

    These pictures tell only a portion of the story. For example, was there a lack of funding that a scout worked to bridge, was there a lack of consensus that needed to be build, how were these sites used pre and post effort.

    I appreciate the ‘brand’ maintenance of the other former Eagles who have posted here; However, the value of a project should be assigned at the local level by relevant professionals who can judge a project’s merit. For example, I wouldn’t solely rely on a carpenter to judge the merit & complexities of a coding project.

    Good job guys. Keep pressing forward.
    Kurt Elder (Eagle Scout 1998)

  3. These projects are great, but we had a scout in our Troop that spent his entire summer along with 7 other scouts collecting 6,600 items for 120 care packages that weighed 25 pounds each for the troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. The troop sent a notice to Bryan and the troop was not even contacted.

    Like i said, the projects above were great, but when you affect 120 active military, both men and woman that are away from home for a year and you brighten their days, you think someone might reach out.

    I am not saying that a project like this should make the top 10, but the impact was greater than some of the above.

    • Mitch, it sounds like sour grapes to me. While some of the above projects may seem a bit sketchy to an old scouter like me. While a few of the scouts didn’t have their picture taken in their Class A uniform. And most important, while your scout (who spent his ENTIRE summer), a bit of a stretch there, (or is it hyperbole)? did a good thing. I personally would question his project most of all. How many of the 120 active military came from your community? Why are you, not the scout looking for someone to “reach out”? If you are truthfully saying that a project like this should not necessarily make the top ten, then why write to complain about other scouts projects?

      Just a bit of a refresher for you regarding the main requirement of an Eagle Scout Service Project: Requirement – You must use the Eagle Scout Service Project Workbook in meeting this requirement.” 1999 – “5. While a Life Scout, plan, develop, and give leadership to others in a service project helpful to any religious institution, any school, or your community. (The project should benefit an organization other than Boy Scouting.)

      A simple read of this requirement pretty much disqualifies your scouts project. His project did not benefit a religious intuition, a school, or your community, (unless it helped a local National, Air, or Army Guard unit). If that was the case, I stand corrected and ask for forgiveness.

      After over twenty-five years as a scouter, I am as tired of complaints like yours as I am of the complaints on the opposite side of the spectrum. Your scout received the highest, most respected award from the best youth organization in the world! Quit complaining, and if your scout is complaining that he didn’t get his name in a magazine, explain to him what an honor the rank of Eagle Scout is!

  4. As a parent of a Cub Scout, looking toward the future, I think all of these boys should be commended! This is amazing work that was coordinated & completed by some amazing young men! If they can complete these type of projects before they are 18, I can only imagin what they will accomplish as they become mature adults!

    Seems to me like maybe we have a few folks that are a bit salty about who was chosen. I believe all of the Eagle projects are amazing, not just the ones listed here! I truely enjoy hearing about the wonderful things these yound men are doing & I hope that my son will find all of them inspiring!

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