By Joyce DeWallace, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – Shrewsbury resident Tyler Collins was recently awarded the Boy Scouts of America Eagle Scout rank after completing his “Beautification of Oak Middle School Project.”
“Going for Eagle was tough because I had just six months in total before I turned 18. I had to get a written proposal together, then have that approved and get the necessary permission,” Collins said. “I had to get all the materials donated or purchased and then actually do the project.”
There were three parts to the project. Collins planted a total of six trees around the school, built two raised flowerbeds, and cleared a neglected area on the side of the property.
“The place was a mess with trash, broken glass and bottles, masses of vines, bushes and undergrowth, covering an area about 30 feet by x 12 feet,” Collins explained.
He spent 236 hours, which had to be documented and recorded, to execute and complete the project. He planted blue and yellow flowers, the school colors, for the three-foot-by-five-foot raised beds.
The rules for achieving Eagle Scout are strict. There are six requirements, and all must be fulfilled before the Life Scout's 18th birthday. In addition to being active in a troop for at least six months, the young man has to live by the Scout Oath and Law, earn at least 21 merit badges, show examples of leadership, hold a Scoutmaster's conference and complete the necessary service project.
Collins belongs to Troop 114, which is a member of the Mohegan Council of the Qunsigamond District. The troop meets every Tuesday for an hour and a half at the First Congregational Church on the Common in Shrewsbury. Scouting has been a big part of
Collins's life, starting as a Cub Scout in first grade, then going through the ranks until he crossed over when he was in fifth grade.
Collins described the process, “We start off as a Scout, then a Tenderfoot, then a 2nd Class Scout, a 1st Class Scout, a Star Scout, a Life Scout, and finally the top rank of Eagle Scout.”
About activities of the troop, Collins explained, “We go on campouts about once a month, usually about 30 to 40 kids at a time – mostly in the New England area to places like Treasure Valley and Camp Yawgoog in Rhode Island and Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire. We'se done Thanksgiving in the woods for the past two years. We cooked a turkey over a fire pit, and it took nine hours.”
Working on the various merit badges also requires a time commitment. Collins has earned 23 merit badges, including chemistry, shot gun shooting and life-saving. Community service projects include fall leaf raking at the church, bottle drives to encourage recycling and to raise funds, and collecting food for the Post Office food drive.
Part of the troop's travels takes the young men on adventures. Collins has been to the Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, N.M., the Florida Sea Base in the Key West, Fla., area and Grand Lake Matagamon in Northwest Maine near the Canadian border.
Collins is a senior at Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School, studying biotechnology, which includes coursework in engineering, physics, math, chemistry and biology and lab work involving microbiology, instrumentation and lab techniques.
“Our lab is more dangerous because of the hazardous, flammable chemicals we use. We do a lot of measuring and use equipment like centrifuges, pipettes, flasks, and beakers,” Collins said.
What does Collins like best about scouting?
“I like the warm campouts best,” he said. “In May and June, my tent and sleeping bag stay dry. The most fun is hanging out with my friends, having a chance to talk to the adult leaders,” he said. “My dad, Peter Collins, has pushed me through all the years because he was a Scout himself in the U.K. He feels that scouting teaches young boys the importance and meaning of the 12-part Scout Law.”