Chris Schneider, far right, and some of his construction crew show off the duck blind for people who have disabilities. Schneider planned and oversaw the blind's construction as his Eagle Scout Service Project.
• Eagle candidate builds special hunting blind
"Once an Eagle, always an Eagle."
Those words will come to life for Chris Schneider at a Court of Honor at St. Thomas More Catholic Parish on Sept. 2, when he enters the ranks of those who have earned the highest award attainable in the Boy Scouts of America. He will join the ranks of such Eagle scouts as Neil Armstrong, Gerald Ford, Steven Speilberg and Jacob Schneider – his older brother, who earned his Eagle award in Colorado.
Chris, the 17-year-old son of Todd and Michelle Schneider, lives with his family near Lake Campbell. He will be a senior at Brookings High School in the fall. He started as a Cub Scout and has been in Scouting for about 12 years.
A lot of planning and hard work goes into a project that earns a Scout his Eagle. Chris described his project with brevity, simplicity and humility: "I designed and built a hunting blind for people who have disabilities."
But to appreciate what Chris accomplished, drop back a couple years and track the project from genesis to mission accomplished. It's all recorded in Chris's "Eagle Scout Leadership Service Project Workbook."
The key word here is "leadership."
A Scout can personally work hard on his Eagle project; but it can't be a go-it-alone, just-do-it venture. He personally spent 33 hours planning the project; he started in March 2010, when he talked with Andy Gabbert, Department of Wildlife, South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks. He spent an additional 10 hours working on the project. Approval of the plan came in August 2011.
go-it-alone, just-do-it venture. He personally spent 33 hours planning the project; he started in March 2010, when he talked with Andy Gabbert, Department of Wildlife, South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks. He spent an additional 10 hours working on the project. Approval of the plan came in August 2011.
Next, beginning in December 2011, came the work of about 15 volunteers, many of them fellow Scouts from Troop 13 based out of St. Thomas More Catholic Parish, under his leadership. His dad put in 10 hours. Altogether, his volunteers put in 66 total hours; so from initial discussion to fruition, Chris had 109 hours invested in the project, which was completed in April 2012.
The actual construction of the blind took place at the Schneider family's home. Chris made a rough sketch of the blind. It measured 8 feet long by 4 feet wide by 8 feet high in the rear sloping to 6 feet high in the front.
He tookthe sketch to a professional architect who generated a computer-assisted design for the blind, which meets all requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. He also spoke with an engineer to determine if what he wanted to build "would be structurally sound and how long it would last."
Chris also wanted to ensure that the structure would serve the "hunters as well as bird watchers and anyone interested in viewing wildlife while concealed in the blind."
He explained, "I actually wanted a person with a disability to come and look at the blind. I got hold of an Iraqi veteran. He had lost a leg. He came in and looked at the blind. He thought that the window should be lowered a little bit; so we lowered the window."
Another vital aspect of an Eagle project is the procurement of materials. Chris expressed his gratitude for generous donations of material from Brookings businesses that included: Lowe's, Runnings Farm & Fleet, and Complete Plumbing. Papa John's donated pizzas to feed the project workers.
Looking back on the project, Chris said his biggest challenge was "just finding the time to be able to do it, finding the motivation to get it done. It took a long time, but it was worth it."
Todd Schneider pointed out what could be considered an enviable Scouting track record: Five Scouts in the St. Thomas More Troop 13 "have hung together and gone on to Eagle Scout."
As to future plans, Chris looks forward to college and studying chemistry, with a long range goal of becoming a veterinarian.
And he'll continue in Scouting, helping younger Scouts.
"If I have a son, I'll definitely get him into Scouting," he added.
Contact John Kubal at email@example.com.