By Starrla Cray
DELANO, MN When Mayer Lutheran High School sophomore Nick Eickschen spotted the ramshackle flagpole at his church, St. Peter Lutheran near Watertown, he saw an appealing Eagle Scout project opportunity.
“I suggested it to the church, and they said, ‘go for it,’” recalled Eickschen, a member of Delano Boy Scout Troop 273.
Eickschen organized a crew of volunteers to help install a new 30-foot flagpole, 6-by-10-foot flag, and concrete base.
Combined, they spent 150 hours on the project, which included water and electrical work leading to the pole.
The new flag is about 50 feet from the site of the old flag, which was removed as part of the project.
“It had concrete footings, so we had to use a Bobcat to pull it out,” Eickschen said.
Compared to the old flagpole, the new one is “about 5 feet taller and a lot more heavy-duty,” he added.
Eickschen began the project in late July, and completed it Sept. 20.
“A lot of people from church helped,” he said, adding that his father, Kurt, volunteers as a property manager at church.
Kurt is also the scoutmaster for Eickschen’s Boy Scout Troop.
Eickschen has been involved in Scouting in Delano since he was in kindergarten or first grade. He lives in rural Maple Plain, and Boy Scouts has been a way for him to stay in touch with friends from the Delano area.
Camping trips were among his most memorable experiences in Scouting, and he also enjoyed completing merit badges.
In addition to Boy Scouts, Eickschen is on Mayer Lutheran High School’s football and basketball teams.
Because he’s busy with school activities, Eickschen chose to start his project in the summer.
He received a $200 discount on the flagpole, and also got a reduced price on five tons of sand for the base. The stamped and colored concrete was also offered at a lower cost, because it was leftover material.
“It all looks really nice,” Eickschen said.
This was Eickschen’s first landscaping experience, and he said the difficulty level of the project “went in phases.”
“Some parts were really hard,” he said, adding that he is grateful for everyone who assisted with the work.
At 15, Eickschen is two years younger than the average age (17) of boys who become Eagle Scouts.
Eagle Scout is the highest advancement rank in Boy Scouting, and requires a great deal of dedication and determination. In 2010, about 5 percent of all Boy Scouts earned Eagle Scout status, according to the Boy Scouts of America website.
To become an Eagle Scout, a Boy Scout must advance through the ranks, complete 21 merit badges, serve six months in a troop leadership position, take part in a scoutmaster conference, and successfully complete an Eagle Scout board of review.
Perhaps the most visible requirement is the service project, which involves planning, development, and leadership of a project that benefits a religious organization, school, or community.