I had the honor of serving as keynote speaker at a very auspicious event. Colin Rivera, a 14-year-old freshman at Gig Harbor High School, received his Eagle medal and neckerchief at his Court of Honor earlier this month at the Sehmel Homestead Park pavilion this month.
Boy Scouts of America Troop 27 Scoutmaster John Ohlson opened the ceremonies with an honor guard made up of scouts from Troops 27 and 282. As third in line, I had a tough act to follow; the scouts were perfect.
A slideshow on Rivera’s scouting life that led to his success as an Eagle candidate held everyone’s attention. Scouts, parents, siblings and four generations of Rivera’s family were on hand, including his great-grandmother, Irene Tatara, who traveled from Amsterdam, N.Y., for the event.
There were three generations of his family’s Eagle scouts on hand — his grandfather, Leon Tatara, his uncle, Christopher Tatara and Rivera himself.
Others of the four generations were cousin Elly, aunt Catherine and grandma Christine Tatara, and his mom Carol, dad Greg and brother Brenden Rivera.
The pavilion was patriotically decorated with a scouting thrust and a bountiful provision of food, and Rivera received a plaque of his journey to Eagle, as well as vintage summer camp patches, which belonged to his grandpa and uncle.
Then, the newly minted Eagle Scout said, “Let’s eat.”
“We are very proud of Colin’s accomplishment,” said his mom, Carol. “Reaching Eagle rank is a milestone in his eight-year scouting journey. Scouting, which has played an important role in our family for three generations, has provided opportunities for Colin to become involved in his community and learn how to care for himself and others. He is excited to take on more leadership roles and help his brother Brenden and other younger scouts along their scouting paths.”
Ohlson said Rivera collaborated with the Fox Island Community Garden, where he constructed six raised-bed planter boxes for his Eagle project.
“The garden is used by Fox Islanders with limited gardening space to grow vegetables, fruits and berries,” Ohlson said. “Colin completed his project in spring just in time for planting season this year. The boxes produced a bumper crop of produce in the summer months; some is donated to local food banks.”
Previously, soil and seeds would wash downhill and into other garden plots when it rained, Rivera said.
“The beds help reduce this erosion,” he said. “In addition to personal use and the food bank, the garden grows vegetables for a local child fighting cancer who needs fresh, organic vegetables.
“I made sure everyone had the right equipment and knew what they were doing,” Rivera said. “Everyone had a specific task to do and knew how to do it. I supervised, kept scouts on task and assigned an adult to each group. Fox Island Community Garden’s Claudia Gustafson was great to work with and helped me a lot.”
Rivera’s project cost a little more than $1,000. He received a Pierce County Conservation District grant for $812.89. ProBuild discounted prices on materials, and Ace Hardware donated cloth to keep animals from burrowing.
“My family helped buy the remaining hardware and PVC pipe for greenhouse enclosures, as well as feeding my volunteers lunch,” Rivera said. “I had 20 volunteers, and they worked a total of 132 hours.”
Scouting has had a positive effect on Rivera.
“I have become more responsible,” he said. “I use the skills I learned in scouts in all areas of my life, like caring for my dog, Eko, meeting school deadlines and taking responsibility for my own learning.”
Ohlson said Rivera is the 12th Eagle Scout in the six-year history of Fox Island Troop 27.
“The national average for scouts to reach Eagle is 5 percent,” he said. “Of the 53 boys who have been Troop 27 members, 23 percent have made Eagle. Eight more Life Scouts are poised to reach Eagle over the coming 12 months.”
Way to go, John!
Hugh McMillan is a longtime freelance writer for The Peninsula Gateway. He can be reached at 253-884-3319 or by email at hmcmnp1000@ centurytel.net.