When Pelham Bay resident John Daly was six years old, his parents gave him the option of learning to ride horses or joining the Boy Scouts.
He chose the Boy Scouts and eleven years later has finished up his final project to make Eagle Scout, the highest level in scouting.
On Saturday, August 28, and Sunday, August 29, Daly, who is now 17 and attends Iona Preparatory High School, put the finishing touches on his project to fix up the stage and back wall at the Throggs Neck First Lutheran Church on Baisley Avenue.
“It’s where the church holds a lot of concerts and where they get a lot of revenue and since they’ve always supported my troop I thought, what better thing to do than to fix their stage?” Daly said. “There were a lot of scratches on the stage floor and basically a lot of wear and tear from overuse. The wall is peeling from a bad paint job that was done a while ago, and the lighting is centuries old.”
Over the course of the two-day project, the crew, which consisted of Daly and about 15 fellow troop members and volunteers from the neighborhood, stripped the paint from the wall behind the stage and repainted it. Then they refinished the stage and installed all new lighting.
But for Daly the hard part was getting the group and supplies together, and making sure they were all well-fed and working.
For several months leading up to the project, he solicited help form neighbors and friends. He also met with merchants like Vito’s Deli and Home Depot about donating supplies and food.
“Well, I’ve learned that organization is the key,” he said. “You really need to be organized to get anything done.”
Completing the project is the last stage on Daly’s journey to become an Eagle Scout.
Scouts start out as a Tender Foot, learning very basic skills, before becoming a Cub Scout, where they learn hunting and survival techniques, such as tying knots and building fires.
The skills scouts must learn to become an Eagle Scout, however, are much more difficult and cannot be taught in a classroom, Daly said.
“It’s all about leadership skills,” he said. “You learn through experiences when you become a patrol leader and you’re in charge on a camping trip. You have to make sure everything is getting done and everyone’s safe and eating. That’s where you learn leadership. It’s more through trial and error.”
Daly is part of Troop 182, which has about 20 members.
Once he turns 18 he will no longer be a member of the Boy Scouts of America, but he plans on coming to the meetings and staying in touch with the friends he’s met there long after his 18th birthday.
“We’re unbelievably proud,” said John’s mother, Christina Daly, after the project was completed. “Such a small percentage of scouts actually make it to this level, and to have so many people show up, just shows his dedication and character.”