High school junior Sam Harris’s spring break was no picnic. Instead of laying back and taking a well-deserved rest, he used his week off to serve others as part of his Eagle Scout Service Project.
“I worked on it all day, every day,” said Harris, who estimates he put in more than 130 hours to meet his goal of providing ten wooden picnic tables for Mills Home in Thomasville.
“My dad (Dennis) was with me every step of the way,” Harris says. “He put in well over a hundred hours and my mom (Christie) gave me a lot of support. Our family friend Quintin Nance and other friends, scouts and leaders also helped.” In all, Harris led a team that labored more than 260 hours.
A Life Scout with Boy Scouts of America’s (BSA) Troop 42 in High Point, Harris has invested years learning the BSA’s core values of character, leadership, citizenship, and service. Since it was founded in 1910, more than 110 million youth have camped, cooked, hiked, swam, and served their communities in a variety of ways. Of these, less than 3% have reached the Boy Scouts’ highest rank of Eagle Scout. Harris expects to join that elite group very soon.
To be considered for Eagle Scout rank means Harris earned at least 21 Merit Badges, completed scores of advancement requirements through the first six scouting ranks, worked on numerous charitable projects, spent many nights sleeping outside in a tent (and at least one night without) and contributed to the guidance of his scout troop.
The last Eagle Scout rank objective is completing a Service Project.
“I’ve known about Baptist Children’s Homes for years,” said Harris. “My family and I attend Green Street Baptist Church (in High Point) and we’ve known Mr. Barefoot for a long time.” Sam Barefoot is BCH’s Senior Vice President.
“These tables will bring much pleasure to children and families we serve while having lunch underneath the oak trees on campus,” wrote Barefoot in his official project acceptance letter. Barefoot’s seen many joyful gatherings at Mills Home in his nearly thirty-five years with BCH.
Harris and Barefoot have more in common than a first name. They also share a church family at Green Street, a scouting heritage (Barefoot is also an Eagle Scout), and their association with BCH. Seventeen-year-old Harris traces his roots back to 1938. That’s when his grandmother Venus Wester taught at Mills Home and lived on campus before her eventual marriage to Calvin Harris.
Throughout the years, Harris’s family has supported BCH in a variety of ways, including work projects. His late aunt Stella Harris was a BCH trustee. She and her late husband Darrell were longtime supporters as are their children and grandchildren. The family name is woven throughout much of BCH history. And now, thanks to recognition plaques on each of Harris’s picnic tables, others will be able to appreciate this tapestry of service.
“It was a real honor for Sam to acknowledge my parents,” said Dennis Harris, “and for him to have plaques for my in-laws and others who have helped him become a fine young man.” Included among the project honorees is a plaque naming Sam Barefoot as a “dedicated scouter and BCH employee.”
Barefoot, for his part, is quick to recognize the magnitude of Harris’s gift to BCH.
“Sam’s project is ambitious even by the BSA’s Eagle Service Project standards” said Barefoot. “For a good Eagle Project, a scout may build two or three tables for an organization. Sam built ten. That’s a lot of work and it took a big commitment”
Eagle Scouts are committed by nature. One simply does not make it all the way to scouting’s highest honor without giving extra effort.
“I’ve seen a tremendous growth in Sam as a scout and in his Christian faith,” said Marty Key, Troop 42 Scoutmaster. “He’s shown sincere care in helping others.”
Upon presenting his completed project report to Troop 42’s Eagle Review Board, Harris was asked why he chose such a challenge.
“I wanted to give (BCH) what they needed,” he replied. “When I started planning, I asked Mr. Barefoot who said they needed eight-to-ten new, durable picnic tables. My dad and I talked and decided to give them ten. I wanted them to have all they needed.”
Adamick is BCH’s director of Human Resources. He is a talented writer and contributes to C&C regularly. He lives in High Point with his wife and two children.