By Jennifer Gallus
HOWARD LAKE, MN - Brandon Torres, 17, of Howard Lake has been working his way up the ranks in Boy Scouts since the second grade.
Torres is a member of Boy Scout Troop 399, and last year he was the troop’s senior patrol leader.
“Senior patrol leaders lead ages 11 through 18,” Torres explained, “and set up events, lead meetings, and set the agenda.”
Just three weeks ago, Torres was an instructor at a leadership camp in Wisconsin called Grey Wolf, which is something he’s done for the last three years.
“The first year at Grey Wolf, I went as a participant. Then, they liked me so much that they asked me to come back as staff,” Torres said.
Grey Wolf staff plan for the camp for six months prior to the camp dates. Staff meet once per month during the planning process.
Because Torres was a scout leader at Grey Wolf, he was then sent to an advanced scout camp called National Advanced Youth Leadership Experience in Cimmeron, NM.
Torres was also chosen as a Boys State representative this summer for Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted High School due, in part, to his scouting leadership and his military background of having a father who is a retired 20-year Marine.
“Boys State helped out a lot,” Torres said in reference to his recent project, which involves having his plans reviewed by city government.
As Torres was brainstorming ideas for projects that would qualify toward earning Eagle Scout rank, he took a closer look at a park in his neighborhood.
He explained that as he was taking his dogs for a walk near Lake Ridge Park in Howard Lake, he walked through the park and thought, “Hmmm, this could use some help.”
“I’d like to move a few pine trees to face the north to block the wind,” Torres said. “I’d like to get some sumac and heavy bushes, also, a grill, a garbage can, and picnic tables.”
His first step was to tell his troop about his plan. He created a landscape drawing, and solicited the advice of Kris Uter who is a buyer for Otten Brothers.
“She is one person I’ve been working closely with. She’s helped with getting estimates and has helped by giving me suggestions,” Torres explained.
He has also been in close contact with the City of Howard Lake, which supplied Torres with maps of the park.
Torres keeps a large, three-ring binder of his plans and notes about the project. He needs to document everything he does and everyone he talks to each time he makes contact regarding the project.
He is currently finalizing his plans, and will soon approach the city council for final approval. He will then need to fundraise for the trees, shrubs, grill, garbage can, and picnic tables. Anyone wishing to donate toward the project may call him at (320) 543-9488.
Once Torres begins the construction process of the project, he will not be allowed to do it by himself.
“It’s the whole leadership component of earning Eagle Scout,” Brandon’s mother, Judy Torres, said. “He has to organize it, facilitate it, schedule the ‘worker bees,’ make the plans, and carry it out with the help of others.”
“I think the paperwork is more of a hassle than anything,” Brandon laughed.
Torres hopes that by this fall, he will have the park improvements finished, and will be well on his way to earning Eagle Scout rank.
“A lot of my friends are in scouts, and most of my friends are almost Eagle,” Torres said.
Eagle Scout is the highest advancement rank in the Boy Scouts. About 5 percent of all Boy Scouts across the US earned the Eagle Scout rank in 2008.