Boy Scout completes playground project in Jamestown
Zach Hanson is working to earn the Eagle Scout rank.
JAMESTOWN – Children in Jamestown have another place to play after a Boy Scout finished a service project he has been working on toward his Eagle Scout rank.
The new tire playground located behind Two Rivers Activity Center was a collaboration of Scout Zach Hanson, his father, Kim Hanson, and Tammy Mewes, the former OnTRAC Learning Center director. Mewes is now the program and special events manager for Jamestown Parks and Recreation District, which owns and operates TRAC and OnTRAC Learning Center.
Mewes has had this kind of project in her mind for some time, she said.
“I’ve talked to them (Boys Scouts) before and said 'If you ever had anyone wanting to do a project reach out, I’ve got a lot of ideas of things I’d like to see happen for our community,’” she said.
That opportunity happened in the spring when Zach Hanson was looking for a service project to benefit a nonprofit as part of working to earn the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest rank in Scouting. He had to plan, develop and serve in a leadership role for the project, according to Scouting requirements .
Mewes said the site behind TRAC had a tree grove with a natural small clearing that was used for a “messy art area.”
But Mewes could see the potential for something more.
“There was this space here we thought we could expand on and make another nature-type play space for children,” Mewes said, giving them a place they could be outside, enjoy nature, climb and have fun.
“When I think back on my childhood some of the funner times is climbing on things,” she said. A playground could help children develop, using more of their gross motor skills which would help them academically as well, she said.
“We just met a couple times and he (Zach) came up with the blueprint and the plan of this space here,” Mewes said.
“There were some other ideas but this one I felt would be most impactful,” Zach said. “It wasn’t originally going to be a tire playground, there were some other structures in mind but we decided to go with tires because they were easy to come by and kind of help the environment.”
Mewes said donations are paying for the project.
Kim Hanson said more than 150 hours of work went into the project. Boy Scout Troop 163, Zach’s troop, helped with some work at the site including clearing some shrubs and building the tunnel and pyramid of tires. About 50 used tires were primed and painted in bright colors. The finished equipment got “tested” when a few children played on it Thursday, Aug. 11, giving their unofficial stamp of approval before opening for use.
“I’m really proud of how hard he’s (Zach) worked to put it all together, and it looks great,” Mewes said.
The playground is open to the public. People driving to the site should park in the TRAC parking lot and walk around the building to the playground, said Mewes.
Holly Lee, the new supervisor of OnTRAC Learning Center, is also happy with the way the project turned out.
“I love it,” she said, adding that it would help children gain independence and confidence and improve their gross motor skills.
OnTRAC serves children ages 3-5 in preschool and kindergarten through fifth grade in its afterschool program.
Zach’s work to get his Eagle Scout rank isn’t a first for the Hanson family. Zach’s brother, Ben, earned the Eagle Scout rank in 2014. Zach, who has been in Scouting for seven years, expects to complete his work for Eagle Scout in the fall.
Aaron Motter, who was the former Scoutmaster for Boy Scout Troop 163 and is now the assistant Scoutmaster, said he has known Zach since he became a Boy Scout four years ago. Cub Scouts who go on to Boy Scouts “cross over” into Boy Scouts when they enter the sixth grade.
“He has grown tremendously from when he crossed over to now,” Motter said. “... it’s so much fun seeing these kids grow and develop basically from sixth grade to now.”
For more information on Scouting, visit nlcbsa.org or call the Jon L. Wanzek Center for Scouting at 701-293-5011 or toll free at 877-292-5011.