When a Scout leads an Eagle Scout service project, people look to them for answers.
But as his volunteers peppered him with questions, Adam Weaver found himself reciting the same refrain: “I don’t know.”
“How do you install artificial grass? How do you mix cement? What type of paint is best for high-traffic concrete areas? How many bags of sand can my parents’ minivan carry?” Adam remembers hearing. “I had more questions than answers.”
Instead of guessing or faking it, Adam found the confidence and bravery to say “I don’t know.” He then added four more words to his response: “But I’ll find out.”
And he did. As Adam and his team of volunteers began work on an outdoor sensory path at an early childhood center, Adam tracked down answers to question after question.
He asked a local landscaping company how to install artificial turf, eventually connecting with the company that installed the surface at his high school’s football stadium.
“The company’s owner came to my project site and gave me pointers on installing AstroTurf and leveling the play area,” Adam says.
For paint advice, Adam emailed the district manager of a paint company to figure out which types of paint were appropriate for turf, rocks and concrete.
And to test whether his project was the right size for first and second graders, he invited some local families to use the space.
“I learned a lot of new skills during the project just by asking people for help,” Adam says.
The soon-to-be Eagle Scout from Troop 750 of Mason, Ohio (Dan Beard Council), learned that leadership doesn’t mean knowing all the answers. Sometimes it means being brave enough to say, “I don’t know, but I’ll find out.”
In 2013, while he was a Cub Scout, Adam volunteered at his neighbor’s Eagle Scout project.
The neighbor created a large outdoor chessboard at a school in Mason.
A few years later, Adam attended that school. And he played on that same chessboard.
“I thought how cool it was to have helped build something that so many people could use,” Adam says. “Ever since then, I wanted to do my Eagle Scout project at one of our schools for students to enjoy.”
After he became a Life Scout, Adam started looking at different schools to see what types of playground equipment they had — hoping inspiration would strike.
“I saw some sensory paths drawn on parking lots, which led me to start thinking about creating a sensory path,” he says. “I wanted to provide a fun outdoor area for students to use during the school day. I didn’t think of it as a requirement for Eagle rank, I looked at it as providing a needed area for students.”
On the right path
Adam wanted to create a space where students could be active during the school day while taking sensory breaks and enjoying the outdoors.
A sensory path is a series of stations where kids jump, reach or crab-walk through activities designed to get them moving, smiling and learning while forming sensory connections in the brain.
Wanting to ensure that his path fulfilled the needs of the school and its students, Adam met with the school’s principal and one of its teachers. He started by presenting his plan for a sensory path that included 15 unique stations.
That list was eventually culled to 10, and Adam got to work.
Using materials donated by Home Depot and Sherwin-Williams, Adam and his team built the 10 stations, revitalizing a run-down courtyard at the school.
He quickly discovered the value of dividing his project into smaller chunks and delegating tasks.
“At the beginning of the project, I was a bit overwhelmed with everything that needed to be completed,” he says. “I decided to break down the overall project into smaller mini-projects and then into tasks for each of those mini-projects. At every work session, I assigned a team leader and a group to work on specific tasks.”
The location of the courtyard created some logistical challenges.
The only way into the courtyard was through the school. That meant any tools they’d need would have to fit through a single doorway.
“That eliminated larger landscaping equipment that would’ve made the project easier,” Adam says.
Over the course of the project, Adam and his volunteers lugged 4 tons of sand, rocks and cement, along with 3,500 square feet of artificial grass and 4,000 square feet of weed barrier, through the hallways of the school.
Adam was just thankful that he didn’t have to do it all alone.
“I’m grateful for the many people who helped me with my project,” Adam says. “From a fellow Scout, Landon, who was there for every single work session to the 6-year-olds who tested out the sensory path to my 79-year-old grandmother who painted tires and got us pizza.”
Stewart Weaver, Adam’s dad, says he was impressed that his son didn’t stop at just the minimum. When he saw additional problems that needed fixing, Adam increased his project’s scope.
“The area had a broken tetherball pole, and Adam made them a new tetherball. His project only covered part of the courtyard, but after hearing the challenges of mowing the area, Adam decided to AstroTurf the whole courtyard,” Stewart says. “During the cleaning phase, Adam cleaned all the areas, not just the ones that were part of his project.
“I was a Cub Scout for one year when I was younger. Seeing all the amazing things that Adam has accomplished and learned through Scouting, I wish I had continued in Scouting.”
Station by station
Here are the 10 stations in Adam’s sensory path:
Hopscotch: Hop onto each marked square across the board
Bear Stomps: Lift your knees high and stomp across the area like a bear
Vertical Jump: Jump and reach as high as you can
Frog Jumps: Jump from one lily pad to another
Balance Beam: Walk along the beam across to the next station
Jumping Jacks: Do some jumping jacks
Skipping: Skip or walk to the next station
Wall Push-Ups: Do some push-ups against the wall
Crab Walk: Do the crab walk (backward, forward or sideways) to the next station
Keypad Practice: Use the keypad to enter your student ID
Thanks to Julie Whitaker, senior marketing executive of the Dan Beard Council, for the blog post idea.