Soaring to new heights

In an effort to beautify their respective communities, Diamond Bar High School seniors Christopher Yun and Colby Zhang remodeled portions of church property, earning their Eagle Scout rank and showcasing their years of dedication to learning and leadership. 

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) aims to help its members make educated decisions and develop academic skills, self-confidence and leadership skills. Scouts can reach the Eagle rank after the following requirements: earning a minimum of 21 merit badges, becoming a leader within their troop and organizing a self-organized volunteer activity known as the Eagle Service Project. 

Zhang’s project involved replacing a run-down sandpit with artificial grass with the intention of increasing the safety of young church-goers, while also making the area more visually appealing. 

“The idea was actually one of the options that were brought to me when I was thinking of a project,” Zhang said. “There were definitely easier ones to choose from, but I wanted to challenge myself and work on a project that required more research and preparation.” 

A long-time member of Troop 730, Zhang has years of experience developing his communication and leadership skills. 

“Boy Scouts has taught me to lead by example, which was a big contributor to me finishing this project efficiently and effectively,” Zhang said. 

Planning the replacement began six months before the execution date with Zhang funding the project through fundraising and money made from selling Boy Scouts popcorn. 

“My budget came out to around $1300, and I was able to buy materials at wholesale price because the landscaper I was consulting with was able to connect me with a few companies,” Zhang said. 

The project involved removing all the sand out of a 23-by-23-foot area with a concrete base. The sand was removed with shovels, bags and wheelbarrows and was given to the supervising landscaper to be repurposed for other projects. Gravel was used as the first layer and compacted with a plate compactor. Artificial grass was then laid across the gravel and nailed in before being weighed down by infill to keep the blades of grass upright. 

“I had Boy Scouts volunteers and family members helping me out, so it only took eight hours,” Zhang said. 

Christopher Yun finished his Eagle Scout project in February of 2022 and involved the refurbishing of a wooden ramp at St. Gabriel Catholic Church in Rowland Heights. 

“I actually attend the church where the project was done. While talking with the head of the facility, we came up with the idea for my project,” Yun said. 

As a member of Troop 278, Yun has found that his personal management merit badge and the skills learned from it, including organizing, planning and budgeting, were the most significant contributors to the project. 

“Before starting any Eagle project, the district has to approve an Eagle project plan and proposal,” Yun said. “So for the first few months, I was working on this planning process mostly alone, but my parents and scoutmaster helped me too.”

After receiving approval, Yun began coordinating the project with the church and bought supplies with money made from GoFundMe, tutoring and recycling. Not including supplies donated by other troop members, the project cost around $800.

The process began with removing, sanding and repainting the wooden ramp, repairing loose supporting planks, and restabilizing the ramp with new wood. 

“Scouting has placed me in situations requiring a variety of skills. It’s these experiences and the memories I’ve made that have made scouting an unforgettable experience that I will always cherish.”