NEWPORT, Maine — A 17-year-old Plymouth boy is on the verge of achieving a years-long goal after the successful completion of volunteer projects at two Newport cemeteries.
Christopher Spaulding, who will be a senior at Nokomis Regional High School this fall, joined the Cub Scouts in the first grade and has worked his way up to the point that he is now applying for the Eagle Scout status attained by only about 2 percent of Scouts.
In addition to earning the required 21 merit badges — Spaulding actually earned 22 — Eagle Scouts must demonstrate leadership and community service. Spaulding opted to focus on Newport’s Stuart Rowe and Palmer Road cemeteries, mapping the identities of people buried there and replacing the dilapidated fence at Palmer Road. Spaulding presented the graveyard maps and his end-of-project report to Newport selectmen Wednesday night.
“It definitely give me a gratifying feeling that I have almost reached something very few Scouts ever attain,” said Spaulding. “Doing all the merit badges was kind of overwhelming at times, but I’m glad I didn’t drop out.”
It took a team of nine volunteers about 23 hours to install the fence, a project paid for with about $200 raised by Spaulding and $2,200 from the town’s cemetery maintenance account.
The rotted wooden fence previously at the cemetery fell to the ground with a few nudges, but installation of the PVC replacement fence wasn’t so easy.
“I didn’t expect it to be an overnight project, but it took two days,” said Spaulding, who is a member of Boy Scout Troop 428 in Pittsfield. To attain his badge, Spaulding is now in the midst of submitting a hefty written application, which he said is “almost like applying for college,” with hopes of earning Eagle Scout status by August.
Everett and Juanita Spaulding, Chris Spaulding’ parents, are both longtime volunteers for Boy Scouts of America. They said seeing their only son go so far is a rich reward.
“We’ve seen what Boy Scouts can do for someone from start to finish,” said Juanita. “It just does wonders for their self-esteem.”
Chris Spaulding said one of his early Scoutmasters, Frank “Joe” Poirier of Burnham, was instrumental in his success.
“He taught me discipline and motivation,” said Spaulding. “If anyone slacked off in the troop or got into trouble, he was like the one who breaks the wild horse, I guess you could say.”
Spaulding, like all other Boy Scouts, will leave the program on his 18th birthday, but he plans to stay involved as a volunteer for Troop 428. In the meantime, he plans to attend Unity College to become a game warden or wildlife biologist.
“My leadership skills certainly got put to the test in this project,” said Spaulding. “It wouldn’t have been possible to do any of this without the help of the volunteers.”