Photo by Bridget Fertal
Isaiah Dean (left) and Jermaine “J.J.” Younger (right) working on the Bridle Trail steps in Riverview Park.

By Nick Eustis

Two members of Boy Scout Troop 348 have recently completed a renovation of two dilapidated staircases in Riverview Park.

To attain the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest achievement in the Boy Scouts of America, Scouts must organize and lead a community service project. Scouts Isaiah Dean and Jermaine “J.J.” Younger, Jr., with guidance from Scoutmasters Bill Kunz and Terry Conroy, worked for two weeks this June to complete this renovation.

The two Scouts did not work alone. Every day, Dean and Younger had the help of eight to 10 volunteers. These volunteers included Scoutmaster Conroy’s son and father, who are also an Eagle Scout and a Scoutmaster respectively.

Football players from Central Catholic, Dean and Younger’s high school, as well as local middle schoolers also joined in the project. Scoutmaster Kunz’ former coworkers with the Pittsburgh Police
Department expressed interest in helping for future Eagle Scout projects. Even the City of Pittsburgh pitched in by providing the Scouts with materials.

The renovation involved lifting and carrying heavy stone and wood steps and securing them in place. The Scouts also needed to ensure the right amount of space was between each step, and that the steps were level. Though the work was difficult at times, “at the end of the day, it was all worth it,” Dean said.
For Younger’s project, the Scouts and volunteers also had the unexpected task of digging a drainage ditch. A heavy rainfall during the renovation turned the steps into a “waterfall,” as the Scouts described it. To prevent the steps from being eroded away by rain runoff, a drainage ditch was necessary.

Scoutmaster Conroy described himself as a “pusher” when it comes to the Eagle Scout program, and it shows. As many as six Scouts out of the 12 in Troop 348 will attain Eagle Scout rank this year. For comparison, less than five percent of Boy Scouts overall become Eagle Scouts.

Many of Troop 348’s Eagle Scout projects help their charter organization, St. Cyril of Alexandria Church. One third of the Troop’s Eagle Projects are in Alexandria Parish. Past projects include an extensive two-week renovation of the parish’s food cupboard.

Scoutmaster Conroy also stressed the benefits of attaining the Eagle Scout rank, especially when it comes to networking.

“Having your Eagle is like having a college diploma,” said Conroy. “You need that little oomph to get ahead.”

After they attain their Eagle Scout rank, Dean and Younger have ambitious goals for themselves. Younger plans to attend Lafayette College for football, and will major in economics.

Dean plans to attend Community College of Allegheny County before transferring to a four-year institution. He plans to study criminal justice and forensic accounting, in pursuit of a career at the FBI.