|Going to extremes for Eagle Scout Project
Cotati native striving for highest honor in scouting
Armed against the elements with only a bottle of water and a space blanket, Dante Carrasco weathers an entire night by himself in the Northern California wilderness in order to achieve his Wilderness Survival merit badge.
Granted a last meal before departure, he is left to build shelter from surrounding resources, one of many extreme activities Boy Scouts encounter during their week at the Wente Scout Reservation near Willits.
A Cotati native, Carrasco recently graduated from Twin Hills Middle School in Sebastopol and is headed for Analy High School.
The ambitious 13-year-old already sees college in his future. An avid fan of sports and close with his older brothers, Dominic, 15 and Stefan, 17, he spends a lot of time camping with his family.
Aside from attending football camp, he has been busy working on his Eagle Scout Project at the Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue Center.
Challenging, but not too hard
“My friend Casey (Goddard) said they’d have a lot of projects they need done,” says Carrasco, who began scouting in the first grade. “I picked out the pipe wiring project because it didn’t seem too hard, but still challenging enough.”
The job encompasses digging a 200-foot long trench to lay a new wiring system and embedding large Christy electrical boxes every 75 feet to provide power to the raptor and outer enclosures.
The project has to reach a total of 100 hours worked, and in order to obtain donated materials, scouts must write a formal letter to local businesses as well as present themselves in uniform to the store manager.
Carrasco expresses gratitude toward stores supportingt his project, including: True Value Hardware, OSH, Lowe’s Home Improvement , Oliver’s Market, Food Maxx, Grocery Outlet, Safeway, CVS and Mountain Mike’s Pizza. They provided food and water as well as hardware, gift cards, and without the Ditch Witch Trencher loaned by The Rental Place, laying the pipes would have taken much longer.
“My friend’s mom was a scout leader,” he says of his motivation to join. “All of my friends were going to do it, so I thought I’d try it out. It’s a really fun experience. You get to learn a lot of new things you probably wouldn’t otherwise…that will be helpful later in life.”
Eager to share his experiences, he explains Eagle Scouts usually are 16 to 18 years old, but he had made a pact with his mother to try to finish early. With the help of his friend Goddard, supportive family members and by earning nine badges each year at camp, he was able to follow through with that promise.
Fulfilling the requirements
In addition to the Eagle Scout Project, Boy Scouts are obligated to move through a series of ranks all containing specific requirements and complete six hours of community service per rank before progressing. Required activities include performing CPR, instructing his peers in various activities and one of his favorite Merit Badges: small boat sailing. A gusty day, their boat ended up capsizing, and it became their job to work as a team to turn it right once more.
“I think it’s a really great thing because there are very few people who continue doing it,” Carrasco says of becoming an Eagle Scout. “It’s such a high honor. It will help me further in life by showing my dedication and hard work. This project taught me a lot of responsibility and leadership and that you have to stay focused on one thing while it’s fresh in your mind, otherwise it will just be drawn out.”
After full days of football practice to prepare him for the upcoming season at Analy, he leaves Sunday for another week at Wente Scout Camp. Because of how busy his project has made him, he hopes for his usual nine badges but would be content to earn at least six this year.
For more than a century, the Boy Scouts of America have been building the character of youths, teaching them to recognize the needs of others in their daily lives and continue learning through their environment. By educating them young, the nationwide organization believes the world will become more responsible and productive.
And, while not yet in high school, Carrasco clearly exhibits these qualities; ones a society needs in order to thrive.