Pilot story by Brian Bullock
Scouting runs deep in the Coons family of Brookings and they're passing on their love of it to the next generation of Scouts.
In December of last year, Cody and Kristen Coons earned their Eagle Scout and Silver Medal respectively. The Eagle Scout is the highest attainable rank in the Boy Scouts of America. The Silver Medal is the highest rank in the Scouts' Venturing Program, for boys and girls ages 14-21.
For the Coons, scouting has been a family affair. Both Bill and Sandy Coons are involved in Scouting as well.
"I think it has really brought the whole family together. We do a lot of things together," Sandy said. "I think kids tend to do too much inside. They have to find their own entertainment. In Scouting they go outside and find things to do."
Cody's work in scouting and his Eagle Scout project is evidence of that.
The project was to construct several animal-proof trash cans and various sites along the Chetco River. Coons coordinated the construction of eight concrete pads at five sites along the river: Nook Bar, Little Redwood Campground, Little Redwood Picnic Area, Miller Bar and Lower South Fork Campground.
Coons obtained the materials and organized work parties. Frames were built, rebar was cut and wired. All of the concrete was mixed by hand.
A final crew was organized to tear down the forms and mount the steel trash receptacles. More than 242 hours were required for the project. Coon's name and the date the project was completed were stamped on each pad.
"It was kind of difficult getting donations for my project. It was mainly time consuming," Cody explained. "It was difficult, but it was kind of fun."
The project was just the most recent step of a journey in Scouting that began when he joined scouts as a Tiger Cub. He joined Pack 124 as a Webelo and moved to Troop 32 in February 1998.
Through the years Coons served as a den chief, patrol leader, senior patrol leader, junior assistant scoutmaster, instructor, Venture Crew 32 vice president and president.
He earned more than 30 merit badges and received the Historical Oregon Trail Medal, Venturing Bronze Medal and Venturing Silver Medal. He is also a member of the Order of the Arrow, an organization for Scouts who exemplify the highest ideals of scouting.
Coons said scouting has taught him leadership skills he might not have gotten anywhere else. He said as he has risen through the ranks, he has learned skills he now passes down to novice scouts.
"We teach all of the younger scouts scouting skills. Tying knots. We teach them basic skills like that or we might lead them on a conservation projects. There's a lot of room for messing up in Scouting. It just gets you a little ahead of everybody else," he explained. "Anybody who's ever been into Scouting says its easy to make friends in Scouting, too. It is."
His mom agrees.
"You must be a follower before you can be a leader. That's what's really helped Cody. He's always been a quiet kid. He's learned how to be a leader," Sandy said.
At the same ceremony Cody received his Eagle Scout Award, Kristen became the first female in the Wacoma District to earn the Venturing Silver Medal. She worked nearly four years to accomplish the task.
On her way toward the Silver Medal, Kristen earned the outdoor Bronze, Gold and Ranger medals.
In order to achieve these honors, Venture Scouts must be proficient in emergency preparedness, demonstrate leadership, and participate in an Ethics in Action Program designed to build character, promote citizenship and develop personal and mental fitness.
In her training, Kristen and her crew taught first aid to younger Scouts while taking first responder courses.
Kristen's conservation project involved clearing the vista from the Redwood Trailhead up the Winchuck River.
She also attended Wood Badge, a Scouting adult leader training course. She was the first non-Scout leader to attend.
Coons has also earned a Red Cross Life Guard Certification as part of a life-saver requirement.
In addition to her work in Scouting, Kristen was a member of the Texas A&M University at Galveston sailing team that won the Southeastern Intercollegiate Sailing Association qualifying regatta.
Their victory earned Tamug a spot in the North American Championships set for Cascade Locks on the Columbia River June 4.
The women ended the regatta in 17th place. It was the first time in four years for the women to compete in the North American.