BIG PINEY – A century ago, the Boy Scouts of America established the rank of Eagle Scout as the highest honor a young man can achieve in the organization. Climbing to the top of the Boy Scout ladder involves countless hours of work serving the community and learning a multitude of life skills – from good citizenship to the ability to survive in the wilderness.
The effort, determination and grit to become an Eagle Scout are made clear in the numbers. According to Scouting magazine, the official publication of the Boy Scouts of America, only 2 percent of eligible Boy Scouts went on to earn Eagle Scout in the century between the award’s creation in 1912 and 2014.
A significant hurdle in the process is completing the Eagle Scout project.
Big Piney High School sophomore Caden Clifford, a Boy Scout in Troop No. 22, is well on his way to achieving Eagle Scout with substantial completion of his project on Tuesday, Aug. 16.
Clifford “switched plans” for his Eagle Scout project several times before settling on replacing the large “BP” letters made out of stone on the hillside beneath Obo’s with concrete letters – a more permanent display of Puncher pride.
“A couple years ago, a couple kids vandalized the BP and changed it,” Clifford said. “My dad and I had to go out there and fix it. The idea for the project spiraled from there.”
Before beginning work, Clifford reached out to members of the Marbleton Town Council and the property owners, the Guio family, to obtain permission to carry out the project.
Clifford designed lumber forms for the new concrete letters the old-fashioned way, using a pencil and graph paper. He and his father used scrap wood to build the forms on the hillside. The weather did not always cooperate.
“A few storms washed a couple things out,” said Clifford, sending him back to the drawing board several times. He and his father used pieces of rebar to reinforce the forms on the slope.
By Tuesday, the forms were firmly in place and level, ready for the concrete.
Milo Fear, owner of Fear Construction, donated concrete and the use of a cement truck. Todd Brown, public works director for the Town of Marbleton, also lent his expertise. Clifford was thankful for the help.
“My dad and I work with wood a lot at his shop, but I didn’t know much about construction going into this,” he said.
The crew got down to work early Tuesday morning.
“While (Fear) was pouring the concrete in, we were shoveling it around to different places,” Clifford explained. “Once we got the concrete built up enough, we screed it and leveled it out with a trowel.”
The process on Tuesday took between two and three hours to complete, Clifford said. Moving the concrete into the right places proved the most difficult part of the project.
“That hill is pretty steep and it got pretty hairy at times,” Clifford said. “The concrete truck couldn’t really get into some spots we needed at first.”
Clifford and the team used “trial and error” to solve the problem, “moving the truck around until we could get things to work and go smoothly.”
With the concrete in place, Clifford returned over the weekend to remove the wood forms and rebar. The only step left is to paint the new concrete letters Puncher red and white.
“Painting will definitely be easier than pouring concrete,” Clifford said.
Once the project is fully complete, Clifford will complete the associated paperwork, submit his final Eagle Scout application and participate in an interview before he earns the Eagle Scout rank.
The date for Clifford’s induction into the Eagle Scouts will be announced at a later date.
Clifford thanked his family, his brother Xavier, the Town of Marbleton, Fear, Brown and the Guio family for their help and support during the project.
In addition to his involvement in Boy Scouts, Clifford is a member of the Big Piney Puncher football, wrestling and track teams.
Visit the Sublette Examiner on Facebook or at www.subletteexaminer.com to view more photos of Clifford's project.