La Grange Scout spearheads tree planting project
Boy Scout Grant Younger smiles at the work facing him and his crew of volunteers. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 27, 2012 8:06AM
Few teens know much about trees other than climbing them, but 16-year-old Grant Younger of La Grange has added a grove of 100 saplings at a Girl Scout camp in Woodridge.
The sophomore at Lyons Township High School said he felt a great sense of accomplishment and a little relief in completing his Eagle Scout project April 21 at Camp Greene Wood to earn the Boy Scouts of America’s highest honor.
“I do enjoy nature, but I would not say I have a green thumb,” said Younger, a member of Boy Scout Troop 14, based at the First United Methodist Church of La Grange. “I have a small garden out back with a few tomatoes.”
Inspired by a love of camping and outdoor adventure, Younger said he selected the tree project to enhance the Girl Scouts’ camp in honor of the organization’s 100th birthday in 2012.
“One hundred trees for 100 years of scouting,” he said. “Originally, it was going to be more trees, but I decided to cut it down because of time restraints, and it wasn’t such a large area as I thought. The trees need to be about 15 feet apart.”
Younger said he also spent some time at Camp Greene Wood after being invited to join the Order of the Arrow, a National Honor Society of the Boy Scouts based on camping experience and being of service to others.
“I thought it would be a perfect way to give back,” he said.
Younger began lining up donations of trees and materials and developing a time line for planting. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources donated 60 white oak trees, and the Morton Arboretum in Lisle gave 28 historic white oaks descended from stock in Oak Park. He received six river birches from the Hinsdale Nursery and friends, five buckeyes from historic roots, mulch from the village of Woodridge and some supplies and the use of a truck from Home Depot.
“I learned you should over-communicate with everything,” he said. “A lot of people said things would happen and it never did.”
Initially, Younger said he had difficulty lining up volunteers for the all-day project April 21, because his troop scheduled another activity. But contacts through the Order of the Arrow group led to a whole new crew of 35 volunteers, ranging in age from 10 to 75.
“It’s especially difficult when you have to tell someone to do something, when you’d really rather ask them,” he said. “You have to find a balance with not being rude.”
Younger said he was grateful for perfect, sunny weather and the use of a post hole digger and power auger to help with the planting through a layer of clay.
“It doesn’t just happen overnight,” he said. “It takes a lot of planning and a lot of people to get it done.”
In addition to weekly scouting activities, Younger said he enjoys being involved with the Student Council and Aviation Club at school. Through LT aviation classes affiliated with Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, based in Florida, he hopes to pursue a career in aeronautical engineering.
In the meantime, Younger said he plans to continue to enjoy camping and scout projects, as well as offer advice to others pursuing Eagle projects.
“I’ll give them a few little tricks,” he said.