Thursday, October 23, 2014

Eagle Scout ceremony to mark end of an era for troop

By DOUG CARDER, Herald Senior Writer | 1/20/2014

Saturday will mark a bittersweet moment for Jacob Thomas Ball.

When Ball, 17, has the Eagle Scout honor bestowed upon him Saturday at Trinity United Methodist Church, 628 N. Cedar St., Ottawa, he will be the final member of Ottawa Boy Scout Troop 0118 to go through the Eagle Scout ceremony. The troop of about 10 boys did not renew its charter this year, and the boys will be joining other troops, Nancy Ball, Jacob’s mother, said.

Saturday will mark a bittersweet moment for Jacob Thomas Ball.

When Ball, 17, has the Eagle Scout honor bestowed upon him Saturday at Trinity United Methodist Church, 628 N. Cedar St., Ottawa, he will be the final member of Ottawa Boy Scout Troop 0118 to go through the Eagle Scout ceremony. The troop of about 10 boys did not renew its charter this year, and the boys will be joining other troops, Nancy Ball, Jacob’s mother, said.

“The troop was established back in 1991 by new Eagle Scout Jim Raby with his father Jim Sr.,” Nancy Ball said. “They were embraced by Trinity United Methodist Church of Ottawa ever since. As of 2014, due to a variety of factors, the troop did not renew its charter.”

Ball, who became a Cub Scout when he was 7, said he enjoyed every aspect of scouting, from the Pinewood derbies and camping trips to community service projects. And the member of Boy Scouts’ prestigious Order of the Arrow said he made numerous friends along the way.

While he was accustomed to completing group activities with his scouting brothers, Ball said, his Eagle Scout project required him to organize it and provide the leadership and perseverance to see it through to the end.

Ball’s project was to dismantle and remove the old dilapidated wooden wheelchair ramp at Pilgrim Bible Church, 316 E. 12th St., Ottawa, and pour the cement platform for a mechanized handicap lift.

“I guess it would be an exaggeration to say the wheelchair ramp had been there a hundred years, but it had been around a long, long time,” Ball, a second-degree black belt Taekwondo, said, smiling. “If I kicked it just right, it probably would have fallen over. The entire project, in a nutshell, was an extraordinary event for me. It taught me a lot about organization and how to show leadership.”

It also taught him an important life lesson about how even the best plans can change, Nancy Ball said.

“It started out as it was going to be a platform, and then a sidewalk was added and he had to prepare the sidewalk for rebar and cement and pour the cement for the handicap lift placement,” she said. “It was an eye-opening experience for Jacob. You may have one idea, but that idea may have to be splintered in another direction to make it happen, just like life.”

After planning and gathering more than $1,000 in donations and discounts from local businesses, Jacob Ball spent 157 hours completing the physical work, he said.

“I had to take up all the nails and pull out all of the boards of the rotting wood on the old staircase,” Ball said of just one portion of the job,

But the junior at Bethel Christian Academy, 3755 Nevada Road, Ottawa, said the project was worth it.

“The congregation loves it,” he said of the handicap lift. “Quite a few people are using it.”

Obtaining the required badges, completing the service projects, undergoing hours of camping — all of which had to be completed before age 18 — made earning his Eagle Scout an honor he always will remember, Ball said.

One of the most memorable adventures of his scouting career, he said, was a two-week High Adventure camping trip to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, including a grueling mountain climb.

“It was a spectacular view from the top [of the mountain],” Ball, who would like to be a Scout troop leader someday, said. “It was literally a Kodak moment everywhere you looked.”

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