Earlier this year, Clayton leaders laid out plans to spend upward of $20 million on two major parks and recreation projects, including athletic fields and walking trails, an amphitheater and a zip line course. In nearly the same breath, they talked about the needs at Legend Park, how some landscaping and elbow grease could bring the hard-loved park back to life.
Luckily for Clayton, Boy Scout Dylan Swain stepped up to the plate.
The teenage member of Clayton Troop 124 used his Eagle Scout project to overhaul the home and away dugouts at Legend Park. Over two weekends last month, Swain and a team of volunteers dismantled the dugouts and put them back together with new materials and a few new design features.
“They needed a little bit of love,” town spokeswoman Stacy Beard said. “There were boards missing, exposed nails, the wood needed to be replaced.”
Swain said he was well aware of the issues at the park, as both he and his brother played baseball there. When it came time for his Eagle Scout project, he thought he would try to improve something that meant something to him.
“The park needs a lot of love,” Swain said. “I remember when my brother was playing, there was a kid throwing a ball up and down, and it stuck on a nail sticking out from the ceiling.”
Swain led a group of scouts and family volunteers in putting in new chain-link screening, replacing broken or damaged wood, covering the nails with a ceiling of plywood and building new shelves for water coolers. The project took 149 hours to complete.
“It looks great,” Beard said. “There are brand new dugouts for all kids to enjoy.”
An Eagle Scout project is all about improving some element of the community where the scout live. Swain’s project stands out in that it strives to improve something for the kids of Clayton, specifically a place he enjoyed being as a kid.
“It’s a huge honor for me to be able to give back to the community,” Swains said. “To be able to give something that kids ... for years ahead will be able to safely use ... means a lot.”
Clayton Mayor McLeod noted Swain’s work wasn’t just a community project for the sake of doing a community project: It looks to stand the test of time.
“It’s quality work, and Clayton’s all about quality,” McLeod said.
An Eagle Scout project doesn’t just ensure some corner of a community gets spruced up or some need is addressed; it pushes a scout to see a project through, to endure sweat and splinters. The mayor told Swain this was an important moment in his life and would pay off in the future.
“A real leader models the world,” McLeod said. “Look at what you have done. Look at how you modeled the world. I hope that you continue in all your pathways to model the way for Clayton. That’s what leadership is all about. Kids your age compete globally; kids my age competed locally. Having that Eagle Scout award really says a lot about you.”