Service — Cosmo Spada enlists his fellow Boy Scouts to repair benches at Tilikum Retreat Center

Cosmo Spada Jr. and six of his fellow Boys Scouts have spent much of the last month in a sylvan glade tucked into a hillside near Newberg. But they weren’t earning merit badges for camping, backpacking, archery or nature. Instead, they were constructing places for weary campers to take a load off.

The effort served additional purposes, as well: getting Spada one step closer to earning the rank of Eagle Scout and fulfilling the requirements of his senior project at Newberg High School, where he will begin his senior year next week as a student in the Green GARY ALLEN - Woodcraft - Cosmo Spada Jr. prepares timbers to be erected into benches at Tilikum Retreat Center last week.

“I have a few more requirements to complete before (reaching) my goal of becoming an Eagle Scout,” Spada said in an email interview. “This was the last major hoop that I had to soar through.”

The 17-year-old youth has been in the Scouts since the age of 7 and is a veteran of Troop 520.

The idea to renovate the benches at Tilikum Retreat Center came from Linda Sandberg, who serves double duty as the mother of one of the Scouts and as a Tilikum employee. She worked as Spada’s mentor on organizing the project. Materials to replace rotten wood on the half-dozen benches were provided by the Spada family, as was construction oversight and guidance by the Spada patriarch, Cosmo Sr.

Overall, the project took two months — one month for planning and assembling the materials, one month for execution — “with more than 60 man hours of actual labor,” Spada Jr. said.

“The project went as smooth as butter thanks to the well-needed month to organize and plan the details of my project,” he said. “The boys from my troop learned quickly and followed orders well. Every time there was something to work around, we fixed it. With the worst injury of the day being a splinter, I’d say things went pretty well.”

Spada first got into scouting through his father, who ferried him to Cub Scout meetings every week. He said that as time went by he began to embrace the morals and instruction entrenched in the organization, which he carried into Boy Scouts. It wasn’t until returning from summer camp in 2012 that he made the decision to push for Eagle Scout.

“Becoming an Eagle Scout is an achievement that only 7 percent of all of all boys who become involved in scouting ever reach,” he said. “I was motivated by a scout leader … whom I met at the camp. He had been in scouting through all his life. He gave an inspirational speech to me and a couple of my friends about the true meaning of becoming (an Eagle Scout), that as an Eagle Scout you show that you can lead in many situations, that you are a self-reliant man and, most of all, that your courage, fighting spirit and positive attitude has impacted countless people.”

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