Eagle Scout Projects Abound at Mason

Posted: October 12, 2011 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: October 11, 2011 at 8:38 pm

By Erin Cushing

If you’ve recently used the Prince William Campus’s EDGE challenge course and needed to sit down to rest, you owe your comfort to the work of three new Eagle Scouts and their on-campus advisor. These scouts, all from Boy Scout Troop 1104 in Clifton, Va., built several benches alongside the EDGE challenge course as their Eagle Scout project.

Scouts Jesse McCarty and Nick Reese each built permanent benches alongside two EDGE course challenge activities, while Chris DeAntonio built six moveable benches for the challenge course and the Freedom Center.

Each scout led a team of his troop members and volunteers in completing their respective project, demonstrating the leadership skills needed to be an Eagle Scout. Yet all three of these boys, as well as many other Eagle Scouts across the Northern Virginia area, owe a big thanks to one Mason staff member: Daniel Nellis.

Nellis is the facilities director for the EDGE, which was built by the Mason Center for Team and Organizational Learning. Throughout his 22-year tenure with Mason, he has advised and helped more than 60 scouts who completed their eagle projects on Mason’s campuses.

“Working with the young people on these projects continues to be one of my favorite parts of this job,” Nellis says. “They are all great to work with.”

Mason is a popular choice among scouts hoping to earn eagle status because of the university’s size and location. When Nellis is approached by a scout hoping to complete their eagle project at Mason, he ensures that the project is challenging enough, requires the scout to demonstrate extensive leadership skills and that the project goes beyond routine manual labor or a fund-raising effort.

Nellis notes that the partnership between Mason and local Boy Scout troops has been advantageous for both parties. Nellis explains that it fosters a collaborative relationship between the university and the scouting community, allowing the scouts to complete their projects while they learn more about the many educational benefits offered at Mason.

The added exposure Mason receives due to these projects is “hard to measure,” according to Nellis. But he says this mutually beneficial partnership for both the school and the scout often continues well beyond the completion of the eagle project. “Many have decided to attend Mason in part because of their experience with their eagle project,” Nellis explains.

For more information about the EDGE challenge courses, visit their website here.

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