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Patriotic Article
Noble Efforts

By USAF Capt. Alysia Harvey

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Boy Scout Helps Fitness Levels Soar
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Joshua Kent (right) and Hayden Howard eye a leveler to ensure the poles of one of the 15 new fitness stations along the running trail at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, are correctly aligned. Joshua, a Boy Scout with local Scout Troop 219, initiated this service project to help earn his Eagle Scout badge.
Joshua Kent (right) and Hayden Howard eye a leveler to ensure the poles of one of the 15 new fitness stations along the running trail at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, are correctly aligned. Joshua, a Boy Scout with local Scout Troop 219, initiated this service project to help earn his Eagle Scout badge. U.S. Air Force photo by Tim Barlow

  12/17/2009 - ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England (AFNS) -- One local Boy Scout's vision, some brand new equipment locked away in a store room for more than 13 years, a passion for fitness, and love for the RAF Lakenheath community. This is the recipe for the base's new outdoor fitness stations and for a member of local Boy Scout Troop 219 being one step closer to Eagle Scout.

Joshua Kent, 15, took on the project of the erecting 15 fitness stations along the base's running trail with the help of his family, a few active duty Airmen and some of his fellow scouts.

"I wanted to build something of importance that would also be long lasting," Joshua said. "I wanted to build something that didn't just affect one certain organization but a lot of people, like the squadrons on base and the high school sports teams. The RAF Lakenheath
community has been extremely helpful to me, and I felt I should give something back.
Joshua, who says he tries to work out regularly when he can de-conflict doing so with school, work and extracurricular projects, went on to say he hopes people will use the new equipment to improve their overall fitness to be more healthy.

Lt. Col. Debbie Kent, 48th Logistics Readiness Squadron commander and Joshua's mother, shares her son's hopes for the new equipment.

"The new fitness stations will offer individuals additional options, particularly outside when the weather is enjoyable," she said, adding that the stations will benefit many people and have a very long-lasting impact on RAF Lakenheath.

Staff Sgt. Jerry Fruth, 48th Civil Engineer Squadron, and Senior Airman Alex Andrejkovics, 48th Logistics Readiness Squadron, assisted with this project and agree the community will benefit from the equipment.

"Any exercise in addition to running the trail will provide a better overall workout," said Sergeant Fruth, adding that the push-up bar is his favorite station.

"These stations will benefit the base by providing a way to improve muscle strength and endurance," said Airman Andrejkovics, a vehicle and equipment maintenance mechanic, who is an Eagle Scout and also serves as an assistant scoutmaster to Troop 219. "The pull-up station is my favorite because it exercises your core, back and arms. It provides the best all around workout in conjunction with running the trail."

While the general consensus seems to be that the stations are a welcome addition, not to mention just in time for Airmen preparing for the Air Force's new PT test standards, Sergeant Fruth, a structural craftsman whose expertise was extremely helpful in completing the 192-hour project, says there's also something more to consider.

"It's good to see today's youth take an interest in helping out their community," he said.

According to Airman Andrejkovics, being an upstanding member of the community is one of the fundamentals of being a scout. He says Joshua used many of the tools learned through scouting to plan and carry out his project.

"Leadership and accountability are the two that mainly come to mind," said Airman Andrejkovics. "It is each scout's responsibility to come up with and carry out each individual project. That includes budgeting for materials and equipment, as well as coordinating with various agencies."

In this case, Joshua had to get specialists from the local British utlilty company's and from the 48th Communications Squadron to check the grounds for lines and pipes. He then had to plan out the stations and gather the labor force to help do the work.

The base already had the equipment for the stations, equipment that had been delivered May 20, 1996. All of the other material needed for this project, such as cement, wooden posts, wheel barrows, etc. were purchased through Joshua's fund-raising efforts.

"We were shocked to find out the base already had the equipment, and it made our job much easier in some ways but harder in others," said Colonel Kent. "There were no directions and we spent a great deal of time on the Internet and telephone with the manufacturing company to obtain a set of instructions, because all we had was a huge pile of 'stuff'."

Even with the challenges encountered, Colonel Kent was beaming with pride on the chilly weekend the volunteers erected the stations along the trail. Joshua, in turn, was very thankful for the support he received throughout this effort.

"I had a lot of help from my family. Between man hours and moral support, they were probably the only reason I was actually able to stay motivated to complete the project," he said. "Sergeant Furth was extremely helpful as well. He was one of the first people to show up to help and the last to leave. Since this sort of project is part of his career field, he knew a lot more about what we were doing than I did, so he also played a large role in the completion of the project."

Joshua also added that he was grateful for the assistance of Liz and Col. Ken McDonnell, 48th Medical Group commander; their son, Colin, who is also a Troop 219 scout; and Col. Blake Lollis, 48th Aerospace Medicine Squadron commander, and his son Brian, both of whom are Eagle Scouts.

With the project finally complete, Joshua is completing the final steps to be awarded the rank of Eagle Scout.

By USAF Capt. Alysia Harvey
48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Copyright 2009

Reprinted from Air Force News Service

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