When Alex Kunda was a child, he was more interested in playing with his friends than engaging in organized groups. But it was through his friendships that he was introduced to a group that would change his life — the Boy Scouts of America.
“When I was 11 years old, I had just started sixth grade and I had a friend, Reese Brown, who was in Scouts. I wanted to hang out with him but he was always going on camping trips on the weekends,” he recalled. “I couldn’t go because I wasn’t in Scouts.”
Alex quickly solved the problem. He joined the group, Troop 204. He enjoyed the novelty of camping and learning the ropes (often literally). Alex also had the full support of his father, Patrick, who as a youngster was a Life Scout, the rank just below Eagle.
“When I first joined, it was fun ... to go on camp outs where we cooked our own food. We learned to tie ropes, which I still haven’t gotten that down,” he said.
But, over time, there were other things happening in his life and he decided to quit. That lasted for two years until Alex rejoined the Scouts and was more committed than ever.
“I just was not interested anymore and I got into other things. But as I grew more mature, I decided to go back,” he said.
He also set his sights on a major goal — obtaining the rank of Eagle Scout. That is no easy task. It is incredibly difficult to meet the requirements of Eagle Scout, which makes holding the rank impressive. Alex was undeterred.
“The way scouting works is you have several (upper) ranks: Tenderfoot; Second Class Life; First Life and then Eagle,” he said. “As you progress, each level gets harder and harder.”
He stayed the course, however, and now at 15, his goal is within reach. He just had to complete his Eagle Scout project.
“For Eagle, you have to do a project that is approved by an Eagle board,” he said.
As a member of the band at Brunswick High School, he knew exactly what project he wanted to do. Alex talked with band director John Birge and they agreed he could construct a new tower for the school’s marching band program.
That would allow Birge a perfect, aerial view of the group’s work on the field.
“My ninth grade year Mr. Birge used deer stand but that started to fall apart,” he said. “Last year he used a paint scaffold, but it was lost in Hurricane Matthew.”
Alex got to work raising money and enlisting contractors to do the work. The workers erected the tower Wednesday.
But he’s not done yet. He also has to complete extensive Eagle project paperwork. He then will present the results to an Eagle board.
“So you come up with project and get it approved by the Eagle board. Then there is a huge packet to fill out with estimated price, work time and at the end tell them actual price and work time,” he said.
“You also have to say what supplies you need, who came and worked ... all of that. It has to be very specific. If it is wrong, you won’t get Eagle that night.”
Alex goes before the board Sept. 11. He feels with the support he’s received, he’s in a good position to make Eagle that night. And that will be a dream come true.
“When I first joined, my dad told me he was a Life Scout but hadn’t made Eagle, he never had a chance,” he said.
“So he’s been very supportive and so has my mom. All my scoutmasters and friends have been, too. I definitely didn’t do it alone.”
His friend, the one who he originally started Scouts to hang out with, Reese Brown, is also on his way to earning his Eagle status.
“It’s really cool that we’ve kinda been able to do it together,” he said.
When not working on his Eagle Scout project, he can be found playing mellophone in the BHS band and singing in the school’s choir.
“I am in dual enrollment ... move on when ready. I am active in my youth group at church. I’m kind of a student leader there ... they look up to me,” he said.
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