Sunday, 15 February 2009

Arrowmen in Action

Building Houses and Building Lives
For many Arrowmen, the idea of a good time may be spending three days hiking in the backcountry. Many sixteen year-olds might spend their time with friends or surfing the latest music videos on MTV. But for Justin Churchman, nothing is more fun than spending three days in Mexico building houses for the less fortunate. For four years sixteen year old Justin - an Eagle Scout and Ordeal member from Troop 59 in El Paso, Texas - has been hard at work providing shelter for impoverished Mexicans. In seventh grade Justin got the opportunity to go to Mexico with his middle school to build houses through the organization Casas por Cristo. He originally decided to go on the trip because it sounded like a cool weekend getaway. But by the end of the weekend it had turned into much more. “I fell in love with it…it changed my life,” he said. After spending the weekend building a two-room home with power and lighting, Justin felt like he had accomplished a lot. But he knew he had a lot more work to do. “When I saw the family’s faces, I wanted to do so much more,” he said. And much more he did. Soon after his first trip, Justin called Casas to find out about starting his own team. Instead of helping him assemble everything necessary to build a house on his own, they referred him to two church groups that let him tag along. But by the end of 2006, Justin had convinced the organization that he was ready to build a house of his own. In order to build his house, he recruited a team of thirty volunteers. In addition, he is responsible for raising $6,000, planning all of the logistics and filling out all of the necessary paperwork. But for Justin, it was worth it. “The idea of my hands giving someone shelter hit me hard,” he said. His project was successful and provided eight people with shelter they wouldn’t have had otherwise.

With this success Justin was ready to build again. One of his next projects carried special meaning. Justin decided to team with his sister and build a house to complete his Eagle Scout Rank and her GSA Gold Award. By the end of last school year, he convinced the organization to let him intern - a position that’s normally reserved for college students. Now, according to Justin, he builds every chance he gets. “On Monday my friends talk about what they did over the weekend: watch movies or hang out. But when my friends ask what I did over the weekend, I can say that I built a house.” Justin just completed his eleventh house and hopes to have twenty done by the time he’s seventeen. When he’s not building houses, Justin manages to find time to play soccer and participate in his church’s youth group. He has even started a healthy-living awareness group with a friend. Justin uses the power of one.

Do you? Every Arrowmen has the Power of One. If you know an outstanding youth Arrowmen who has truly made a difference in their community, you can nominate them to be featured in a NOAC News You Can Use by sending an Email with their name, contact info, and a brief background of what they have done to nept@oa-bsa.org.Yours in Scouting Service
Mark W
Junior Assistant Scoutmaster
Troop 1616
Arrowmen In Action: Building Houses and Building Lives

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