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Union Now Happy about Eagle Project Allentown Part II

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Alls well that ends well...





Hauling brush and old tires out of the woods in Allentown early Friday, members of the Service Employees International Union learned an Eagle-Scout-to-be is just as forgiving as he is trustworthy, loyal and helpful.


The Eagle Scout service project of Kevin Anderson, 17, of Upper Saucon Township was caught up in a national media firestorm after Nick Balzano, an Allentown union official, threatened to file a grievance over Kevin's work clearing a trail in Kimmets Lock Park. Conservative pundits seized on the remark as evidence of the SEIU's ''thuggery,'' and Balzano later resigned.


To show there were no hard feelings, SEIU members from as far away as Philadelphia and New Jersey accepted Kevin's invitation to help with the project Friday.


''They completely agreed -- to come out, to help, to make amends,'' said Kevin, a member of Troop 301 of Center Valley. ''I'm just glad it's all coming together.''


As a result of the extra attention, Kevin found himself in charge of at least 40 volunteers, including Boy Scouts, parents, union members, a few Girl Scouts and the mayor of Bethlehem.


''I've never experienced leading this many people before,'' admitted Kevin, who's been working in Kimmets Lock Park with his 23-member troop since August. He spent Friday's chilly morning juggling sign-in sheets and his cell phone, supervising installation of a silt fence and helping to rip a rusted drainpipe out of the ground.


Wayne MacManiman, who leads the SEIU's Philadelphia-based mid-Atlantic district, said he thought Kevin's invitation was a great idea.


''Everybody's here on their day off, volunteering,'' said MacManiman, of Burlington County, N.J. He noted SEIU members from Allentown had signed up to be part of the union's 20-member crew.


''Kevin's doing an amazing thing.We've always supported the Boy Scouts, whether it's here in Allentown, Bethlehem or Philadelphia,'' MacManiman added, gathering branches alongside Bethlehem SEIU chapter leader Bill Tone.


Balzano's remark, made in the aftermath of Allentown's layoffs of 39 union employees in July, grabbed the attention of conservative commentators after it was published in a Nov. 15 Morning Call story. Pundits including Fox News commentator Glenn Beck and columnist and blogger Michelle Malkin slammed Balzano, saying the union was bullying Boy Scouts to protect their jobs.


Kevin had started planning the project long before Allentown's July layoffs and had abided by union rules, making sure he and other volunteers worked only during off-hours. He never imagined he'd end up in the middle of a media frenzy.


''FOX called me at my house. NBC was at my high school,'' Kevin said. Some reporters even tried to track him down through his soccer coaches, he said.


After a few initial interviews with The Morning Call, Kevin and his family tried to stay out of the media spotlight and referred all questions to officials with the Minsi Trails Council, which includes Troop 301.


When Morning Call journalists showed up at Kevin's project Friday to interview and photograph him for this story, they were encouraged to help pick up trash and brush along with the volunteers -- and did.


Even in the woods, politics were impossible to ignore. In the wake of U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent's Nov. 17 letter supporting the Boy Scouts and calling on Balzano to apologize, Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan showed up in work clothes Friday morning. Callahan, a Democrat, is challenging Dent, R-15th District, for his seat next year.


Asked what it's like to be directed by a 17-year-old, Callahan laughed. ''I'd gladly take orders from Kevin,'' he said. ''I told him I was very impressed with how he's handled this situation.''


Kevin and fellow Scouts had logged a combined total of 250 hours on the project before Friday, carving out the 1,000-foot trail in August while clearing brush that was taller than they were. Many seemed unsure what to make of the media attention but said they didn't mind the extra help from the union.


''They're volunteering, so I appreciate the time they put in to help out,'' said Tony Bucha, 19, an assistant Scoutmaster with Troop 301 and an Eagle Scout.


''It's what should happen,'' agreed Bruce Anderson, Kevin's dad and Troop 301's committee chairman.


By 10:30 a.m. Friday, Kevin's crew had cleared out what appeared to be at least a ton of tires, rusted car wheels, tree branches, old beer cans and other debris, in addition to installing a 400-foot silt fence.


''How did it get done so fast? Who's in charge of this job?'' Bruce Anderson teased his son as they surveyed the work.


Kevin has until his 18th birthday, 11 months away, to wrap up the requirements for the Eagle Scout rank. After he finishes the service project, he still needs to earn two more merit badges.


His dad suggested a public relations merit badge would help meet that requirement, but Scouting doesn't have one.


''Looking back on this project, yeah,'' Kevin agreed. If he'd been working toward a PR badge, ''It would've helped a lot.''



He could of course now counsel the American Labor MB


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Kevin has until his 18th birthday, 11 months away, to wrap up the requirements for the Eagle Scout rank. After he finishes the service project, he still needs to earn two more merit badges.


Wait, don't tell me, let me guess: Personal Fitness and Personal Management. Or Family Life.


Seriously though, congrats and good luck to this Scout and, indeed, all's well that end's well. But let's not make too much of a habit of all this peace, love and happiness on the Issues and Politics Forum, it just doesn't seem right. :)

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Wait, don't tell me, let me guess: Personal Fitness and Personal Management. Or Family Life.


This struck me as a humorously accurate prediction, based on my own experience. Just for kicks I went back and looked over our troop's records to see how true it is.


For all those Scouts where we know what their last two Eagle merit badges were, or will be, or would have been (a total of 14 Scouts)

Number that had two of those as the final two: 6

Number that had one of those in the final two: 7

Number that had none of those as the last two: 1 (this young man came right up to the wire and needed two non-Eagle merit badges, so he earned Archery and Basketry.)


For all the Scouts where we know which 5 Eagle-required merit badges would be the 5 that count towards Eagle (a total of 23 Scouts):

Number that had all three of those among the last five: 12

Number that had two of the three among the last five: 9

Number that had one of the three among the last five: 2

Number that had earned all three for Star or Life: 0


Alternatively, here are the top 5 most common merit badges, in order, to be the last two:

1. Personal Management

2. Family Life

3. Personal Fitness

4. Citizenship in the Community

5. Environmental Scient


And here are the top 11 to be among the five Eagle-required badges that are used for the Eagle rank:

1. Personal Management (87% of the time)

2. Family Life

3. Personal Fitness

4. Environmental Science

5. Camping

6. Citizenship in the Community

7. Communications

7. Emergency Preparedness/Lifesaving

9. Citizenship in the Nation

9. Citizenship in the World

9. Hiking/Swimming/Biking (2 Hiking, 1 undetermined)


The one merit badge that was never used for Eagle was First Aid. Everyone had that by Life.


So NJCubScouter, your specific prediction would have had an accuracy of 43% in my troop, but the general principle behind the prediction appears to be 100% on target.

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I have no statistics about those three merit badges, it just seems like when I am speaking with a 17-year-old Life Scout or his parents and ask which merit badges he has left, at least two of those three are usually on the list. I have spoken with Scouters from other troops and they have the same experience. Presumably it is the 90-day and 12-week requirements in those three badges that invites procrastination. I had a bit of recent personal experience with this, as a certain now-18-year-old who happens to live in my house completed two of these badges less than a week before his birthday. (He actually had the "time" requirements done with a whole two or three weeks to spare, he just needed to clean up the last few "discuss with your counselor"-type requirements.) Fortunately he had earned the other one of the trio about two years ago, which explains why my hair is only partly gray.


Of course there are exceptions. I recently sat in on a Scoutmaster conference for a Star scout (going for his Life BOR) who has actually completed all three of the MB's in question, and is 15 years old. (He still needs three other required MB's, but at least he broke the usual pattern.)



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