China schools benefit from local boy scouts

Bryson giving the safety inspection and assigning tasks to the scouts, left to right, Scouts Isaac Audette, Brady Newell, Sam Boynton, Bryson Pettengill, Nathan Choate and Assistant Scoutmaster Aiden Pettengill. (photo courtesy of Chuck Mahaleris)

by Chuck Mahaleris

Bryson Pettengill’s Eagle Project was to create Zen Spaces at both the China’s Primary and Middle schools. He wanted to give back to the school and after discussions with his parents it was clear that children with special needs or social anxiety needed a safe environment. He realized the schools didn’t have one on the playgrounds. In researching online, he made the spaces as natural as he could because things found in nature provide calming stimuli.

Scouts Sam Boynton, left, and Remy Pettengill were assigned to put the picnic table together for the Middle school location. (photo courtesy
of Chuck Mahaleris)

The purpose of an Eagle project, which is a capstone assignment at the end of the Boy Scout advancement ladder, is to demonstrate leadership. There is no quantity of hours required for an Eagle project. The Scout need only demonstrate leadership in the task; therefore, it must be complicated enough to require the assistance of other Scouts.

A good Eagle project is one that gives the Scout an opportunity to organize his fellow Scouts into action. Most Scouts find this to be a challenging task, as it is unlike anything they have ever done in Scouting – and for many, unlike anything they’ve done outside of scouting as well.

These spaces would include “Buddy Stumps”, a Zen sand garden, picnic tables, calming plants, checker/Tic-Tac-Toe boards and building blocks/logs made with natural elements. Studies show that nature benefits children’s mental health because it is a natural calming stimulus. Spaces were built at both schools.

Bryson had to work with the principals from both schools to obtain approval for the project and for the location for Zen spaces at each school. He then had to get the approval for this project from the Troop #479 committee by scheduling a time to present his project. He had to schedule a meeting with the project coach for Kennebec Valley District of Pine Tree Council for the final approval before he could start the project.

He asked for help from his fellow Scouts in Troop #479 and other volunteers and scheduled a work date of July 9, 2022.

Bryson is the son of Lee and Danielle Pettengill, of South China and will be entering the eighth grade this year.

Scout Bryson Pettengill with the completed Zen space at the Middle School. (photo courtesy of Chuck Mahaleris)


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