Jayson Young is a busy Wadena-Deer Creek senior who managed to recently reach the highest rank in Boy Scouts, Eagle Scout.
His achievement was celebrated last weekend at St. Ann's Catholic Church in Wadena, where he used to attend school. While many Boy Scouts often push off the final Eagle Scout project until close to the end of their Boy Scout careers, Young actually completed his project three years ago. It was an epic project involving replacing the playground at St. Ann's and the gravel beneath it, but he didn't waste anytime once he set his mind to it.
The project came to fruition following the closing of the St. Ann's School. Jayson's dad, Jim Young, said there was talk about turning the playground into a parking lot, but after watching how often children enjoyed the area, it was decided to keep it. Costly improvements needed to be made, however, including replacing the play set and the sand-burr filled gravel beneath it.
Jim said the inspiration for the improvements came from Jayson's aunt Pam "Squirt" Young, who had died of kidney cancer.
"She was an art teacher and softball coach in Perham, who loved kids, especially Jayson," Jim Young said of Pam.
Jayson, having been a regular user of the park in his youth, now looked to see the park see many more years of enjoyment.
Jayson couldn't start digging in the dirt until he had raised funds to buy the new equipment. Thankfully, some major donors stepped forward to help make it happen including $2,500 from the Tri-County Hospital Foundation, $1,000 from the Browne Foundation, $5,000 from Ameriprise and $5,000 allotted by the church. In all, he raised about $18,000 to complete the project.
But labor, material and equipment help was also important, including volunteer time from Sam Waln. He donated hours in a skid steer and dump truck and completed the dirt work, hauled away the old play set, brought in new gravel, black dirt and concrete. Wadena Ready Mix hauled in over 50 yards of pea gravel at half price, according to Young. Jayson had to coordinate all the pieces into place.
Not quite a sophomore, Jayson required adult supervision during the construction project, which was provided by Jayson's uncle Bob Young, each day of the project. The project spanned a summer. He managed to fit it in around his sports including cross country, wrestling, track, band, choir, and life guarding at the Maslowski Wellness and Research Center. He and those helping clocked in over 250 hours of labor into the project.
Reaching Eagle Scout was a liberating feeling for the now 18-year-old.
"It felt good," Jayson said. "It took a long time, but it feels like I've got more spare time now. It definitely opened me up to a lot of different things I don't think everyone gets to experience."
Jayson began Boy Scouts in the first grade. Now a senior at Wadena-Deer Creek, Jayson said the journey through Boy Scouts helped him prepare to be a leader. He's been accepted into North Dakota State University and plans to enter into the engineering program following graduation.