Soaring to New Heights

Greg Cross takes a unique approach to earning Eagle Scout

Achieving Eagle Scout is the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouts program. It requires years of requirements in order to pass from one rank to another and earning merit badges in skills such as first aid, camping, and survival tasks as well as hold leadership roles in elected positions. Completing a community project is the final requirement for the rank of Eagle Scout and often takes more than 100 hours to complete, including submitting a report and gaining committee approval.

Elkhorn South High School sophomore Greg Cross faced that final hurdle last spring. A lifelong Boy Scout, he spent several months brainstorming ideas for his Eagle Scout project. He also plays soccer for Elkhorn Soccer Club and noticed they didn’t have any benches at their JPM Soccer Fields. He wondered if they might like some so players and parents had a place to watch practice and games. He approached the club’s administration, who met him at the fields to discuss ideas.

“We came up with all kinds of options for ways to improve the fields that would benefit all of the club’s families,” Greg said. Some ideas included painting the goals, rearranging the parking lot boundaries, and a picnic shelter for shade. “Some of the ideas weren’t feasible since the fields are in a flood zone, but we agreed on mutual projects,” he said. After receiving approval from the club’s board members, Greg was ready to plan out four projects: installing three permanent benches, building a flower garden by the main entrance sign, putting a box around the irrigation system, and fixing the entrance posts so a proper chained gate could be secured when the fields are closed.

Greg’s next step was to prepare a budget for materials needed for all parts of the project so he knew how much money to raise, which he said was the most challenging. But Greg’s mother Kathleen said he spent hours online researching prices for everything from lumber to nails. He determined a budget of $1200. Elkhorn Soccer Club agreed to contribute $500, so he knew he had to raise $700 in order to complete all four projects.

One of the club’s board members suggested he use Red Basket for his fundraising, which is a non-profit organization funded through WoodmenLife in Omaha. Red Basket set up his online fundraising campaign, issued a press release, and helped promote it through social media. “They made it really easy,” Kathleen said. “And it’s completely free. Greg got 100 percent of all the funds he raised.” He also wrote an email explaining his project, which Elkhorn Soccer Club sent to all of its participating families.

The result was overwhelming. In just over a month, he not only reached his goal of $700, but he doubled it, raising a total of $1,355. “The Elkhorn families were so generous,” Kathleen said. “We expected mostly $5 and $10 donations, but many contributed $100 or more.” Greg was so excited by the result, he went back to Elkhorn Soccer Club and asked if they’d want three additional benches. They said yes and increased their contribution to $700 for a total of $2,100 so that Greg could expand his project. “It was even more successful than I thought, and I was surprised by how much money people gave,” he said.

All of the projects are scheduled to be complete in early October, and Greg will ask his Boy Scout troop for volunteers to help, as well as friends and family. His father and older brother are both Eagle Scouts, and his younger brother is on track to become one as well. “I was surprised by how long the process took, but I’m excited to see the finished project,” he said. “And to have a bench to sit on during soccer.”

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