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updated: 6/30/2014 8:43 PM

Scout's project brings bocce courts to Des Plaines

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  • Video: Eagle Scout Bocce Courts

  • Frisbie Senior Center board member Roger Hull, right, congratulates John Meyer, 17, of Des Plaines at a Monday afternoon open house for the bocce ball project Meyer recently completed.

       Frisbie Senior Center board member Roger Hull, right, congratulates John Meyer, 17, of Des Plaines at a Monday afternoon open house for the bocce ball project Meyer recently completed.
    Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • John Meyer, 17, of Des Plaines dons his merit badges Monday afternoon at the senior center in Des Plaines.

       John Meyer, 17, of Des Plaines dons his merit badges Monday afternoon at the senior center in Des Plaines.
    Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • From left, John Meyer, 17, of Des Plaines, shares a laugh with friend Harrison Langlois of Des Plaines Monday at the Frisbie Senior Center in Des Plaines.

       From left, John Meyer, 17, of Des Plaines, shares a laugh with friend Harrison Langlois of Des Plaines Monday at the Frisbie Senior Center in Des Plaines.
    Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

 
 

Last fall, John Meyer of Boy Scout Troop 6 in Des Plaines was looking for a service project -- the marquee requirement of a Scout pursuing the rank of Eagle -- Scouting's highest honor.

He talked to officials at the Frisbie Senior Center for ideas on possible projects, which ranged from community gardens to a horseshoe pit.

That initial brainstorming led to the construction of two 57-foot-long bocce ball courts, which are located on the east side of the facility at 52 E. Northwest Hwy. The project took some 2,000 man-hours by as many as 15 Scout volunteers, along with troop leaders, parents, and workers from local businesses. Meyer solicited and received building materials from those businesses for free or on discount. He also hosted fundraisers at a hot dog stand and garage sale to pay for project costs.

"At the start, you think about all the stuff (to do). I knew it was going to be big, but I didn't think it was going to be as big as it turned out to be," said Meyer, 17, a senior at Maine West High School. "You get thrown curve balls. I think Scouting helps you to have backup plans."

Meyer and those who helped with the project celebrated its completion with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday. They broke ground last September, but significant work didn't take place until after winter.

Steve Samuelson, president and CEO of the senior center, said the project would have cost up to $25,000 without the donations and discounts on materials. The senior center so far has had to pay only $4,000 -- and that money could still be recouped through fundraising.

"There is no way we would've undertaken this project on our own without this encouragement," Samuelson said.

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