Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Scout Hits Home Run with Eagle Project

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Scout Hits Home Run with Eagle Project

Article excerpt

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Representing the culmination of years of scouting work and achieved by only about 5 percent of all Boy Scouts, Eagle Scout is the highest rank conferred by the Boy Scouts of America.

Ben Retcofsky of the Oakwood neighborhood in Pittsburgh became one of the newest members to join the ranks of Eagle Scouts that includes notables such as astronaut Neil Armstrong, President Gerald Ford and director Steven Spielberg.

Ben, 16, received his Eagle Scout award March 16 during Boy Scout Troop 158's Court of Honor ceremony at United Presbyterian Church in Ingram.

"After all these years, it's finally over," Ben said. "It was a lot of work but it was a lot of fun along the way."

To achieve the rank, scouts must learn first aid and basic camping and survival skills, serve in several leadership capacities, earn at least 21 merit badges - including 12 in specific categories - and complete a major community service project called an Eagle Project.

For his project, Ben chose to make improvements to the Oakwood Baseball Field, which is the neighborhood field in the West End where he began playing Little League baseball with the Westwood Oakwood Athletic Association.

"I grew up playing on the field, so I was thinking it would make the whole area look a lot nicer," he said.

Upon approval from the City of Pittsburgh - which owns the field - Councilwoman Theresa Kail Smith and the Department of Public works, he began a recycling program and raised more than $2,000 to purchase materials to complete the work.

After removing brush along the third base line, Ben excavated back about 12 feet and constructed a retaining wall to allow more room for the players to practice and warm up during games. He also constructed a stairway that leads from Oakwood Park down to the field to provide safer access. To complete the project, he added a fence and bushes.

Ben said the project wasn't too difficult to plan and that he solicited help from his father, Herb, who also is scoutmaster for Troop 158. …

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