Anchorage, AK- Team AK
I’ve been jumping with Team AK since I was 8 years old, around the same time I joined cub scouts at our local mega church. I spent most of my time jumping rather than in scouts but when I turned 11, I became a Boy Scout. I ended up juggling my time between campouts and competitions, successfully ranking up in scouts while making the podium on the hills. Most of my service work was done at the Hill Top Ski area, also the location of the Carl Eid jumps. I spent a lot of time at Hill Top as it is kind of like my backyard. I ended up spending many hours doing service work there, clearing brush along the roads and trails for credit to rank up in scouts. When it came time to choose an Eagle Scout project, I knew I wanted to do something for our ski jumping facility.
Initially, I wanted my Eagle Scout project to be to design and build a new bar system on our 65-meter hill. When I presented this idea to my scout adviser, he said that my project had to benefit the community, not just my ski jumping team. So then I wanted to build a set of stairs from the 20 meter hill to the 40 meter hill, because our hills are open to the community and people walk the stairs for exercise. This idea was also shut down because it was still benefiting Team AK more than the community. So then I got together with Coach Zak and asked if he had any ideas. Zak suggested that I design and build a fence that separated the public parking lot from our landing hill, as we had problems with people walking across our outrun when we are jumping.
People would park their cars in the public parking lot and take a shortcut right across our outrun. Zak even posted signs asking people to use the trail around the ski jumping area instead of cutting across. Some people never noticed the sign and continued to walk across while we were actively jumping. There were several near miss incidents throughout the years. It wasn’t just people who would attempt to take the shortcut; several dogs would end up in the outrun while we were in mid-flight. Building the fence would not only benefit Team AK, it would benefit the community by making them safer. Zak and I came up with a design where I would make the fence structure with treated timbers and use old skis for the fence boards. I wrote up the design as a part of a 32 page Eagle Scout application.
Each Eagle Scout application had to be signed and approved by the beneficiary, Coach Zak- Team AK, and four others; my scout adviser, my scout master, my scout chair, and lastly, the BSA’s Denali District Eagle Scout reviewer. My scout master rejected my first application because he said I would never get enough people to donate used skis to finish the fence boards. So I re-did the application and shortened the fence from 100 feet to 50 feet. After getting all of the signatures for a second time, my application was approved. All of this occurred prior to March 2020…the beginning of COVID.
COVID changed the way I approached my project in several ways. Typically, I would fundraise in person to collect enough money to finance the project, taking months to raise the funding. But with COVID, nothing was done in person. Instead, I decided to make a Go Fund me page. The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) rules were that we couldn’t fundraise outside of the BSA, the Scouts family & friends, and the beneficiary’s community. I figured that a Go-Fund me page could only be sent to people that met those criteria. I made a Go-Fund me page and sent it out. I was so psyched because I received 100% of the money I needed in the first two days of having the page active. Also, 90% of the money came from the ski jumping community.
I was also able to use the Go fund me page to ask for ski donations that could be used as fence posts (see Ronen’s video pitch, click here). This time, I asked the Nordic Ski Association of Anchorage (NSAA) to help get the word out. This was super successful, as the entire community brought old skis and dropped them off at the jumps. I got all kinds of skis. COVID also changed the way I asked for volunteers to help me with my project. I had to ask people that were already in my social circle. Since I was training every day at the hills, I asked a few of the jumpers from Team AK and I got all the help I needed. Also, due to COVID, I had a hard time finding the treated timbers and the quick create to set the fence posts. It took a bit of extra effort to gather all the materials but once I did, it was game on!
Rick Crammer, the groundskeeper for Hill top, donated his time and a tractor with a post hole auger. We were able to clear brush and bore the post holes in one week. I knew we had enough skis to go 100 feet so instead of just making it 50 feet as my Scout Master recommended, we went 100 feet. This allowed us to put the fence along the stretch of the parking lot that was the most dangerous. The project went great. I had about 20 ski jumpers helping. The project was done prior to the mask mandates so the photo I included in my report showed our bare faces. After going through the Eagle Board of review, I became an Eagle Scout.
My 100 foot fence project was a success because the ski jumping community came together and helped financially, materially, and physically. The NSAA and Team AK had played a major role in my projects success and to that I am grateful.