For many young men there are two iconic pastimes in their youth, baseball and Scouting. One local teen has combined his love of both to help the community.
A little more than a year ago, Austin Bohlen was considering a project to present for his Eagle Scout Award when he decided to work to improve the baseball and softball fields at the Smithton Youth Sports Complex on state Route TT.
“I love the game of baseball, and I always have since the first time I started playing it,” Bohlen said. “An Eagle Scout project is supposed to be something that will benefit the community as a whole and not just the scouting community.
“When the Smithton Youth Sports acquired the fields on TT they were in pretty rough shape,” he added. “Because I love baseball so much I decided that this was a project that I could do to combine two of the things I love and care about the most, Scouting and baseball.”
Bohlen said he had two main goals with his project: to make the fields easier to locate and make them more appealing to be at once players and spectators arrived.
“There wasn’t any type of sign to let people know where the fields were,” Bohlen said. “There is a concession stand at the complex but there really weren’t places for people to sit down and eat and there needed to be trash cans in more locations at the fields.
“It seems simple but it really took a lot of hard work both in terms of the labor and the behind-the-scenes work,” he added. “Sometimes the planning and the proposal take longer than the actual physical work involved.”
Bohlen said he was very careful to not take shortcuts when doing the work, but wanted to install items that could be used for many seasons and would stand the test of time.
“Part of an Eagle Scout project involves having volunteers help with some of the work,” Bohlen explained. “My grandfather, Doug Crouch, and my father helped me design the sign so it is lit at night and we made stands for the trash cans, so they won’t blow over but they can be removed and the mowers can mow over the mounts.
“A lot of members of my troop (Troop 54) helped with the work and we had a lot of community members who volunteered not only time but also made financial contributions that I truly appreciate,” he added. “The community funded this event and to thank everyone we are hosting an event July 22 so the people can see what they built.”
Giving back is one of the lessons Bohlen said he has further developed because of his time in Scouting.
“I joined Scouting when I was a young boy in the Cub Scouts,” Bohlen said. “My father was in Scouts and he encouraged me and my brother to be serious and to keep with it.
“For Ethan (Bohlen’s younger brother) and me, I think we have grown a lot together through Scouting,” he added. “I think we will both look back and will have a lot of good memories of our time together and what we have done in scouting.”
“I really have liked helping Austin with this,” Ethan said. “I’ll have to do my Eagle Scout project sometime in the future and I have learned a lot from him.
“I’m really happy for him and I want to follow in his footsteps,” he added with pride.
Having his family’s support as well as the community support meant a great deal to Bohlen throughout his project.
“I’ve learned a lot of valuable lessons from scouting and this project,” Bohlen said. “There’s a lot more to life than what we sometimes see and scouting has helped me to become a more respectful person and has helped me to want to be the best person I can be.
“I think I chose the right project for this because it really peaked my interest in baseball and Scouting,” he added. “It helped to better the fields and helped the community as a whole if they choose to come out and use the fields.”
The unveiling and signing ceremony for Austin Bohlen’s Eagle Scout project hosted by Bohlen and the Smithton Youth Sports will be at 6:30 p.m. Friday at the Smithton Youth Sports Complex. The public is invited to attend.
From East U.S. Highway 50, turn left to state Route TT and drive one mile south. The fields are located to the left.
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484.