Aidan Kypreos, 15, of Bethany Beach is one step closer to holding the rank of Eagle with the Boy Scouts of America, after having completed his Eagle Scout project at the Delaware Veterans Home in Milford.
“I kind of wanted to get it early,” said Kypreos.
In scouting, young men have until their 18th birthday to reach the rank of Eagle, and only after actively serving in their troop at least six months at the rank of Life Scout, earning at least 21 merit badges, and then planning, developing and leading a service project.
Out of his 27 merit badges, Kypreos said his favorites are Wilderness Survival and Lifesaving.
“For Wilderness Survival, you had to learn about primitive technology, and then you had to go out and build a shelter and sleep in it. I did it at summer camp. It was a mile or two from camp, in the woods.”
Kypreos, a scout in Ocean View’s Troop 281, said he decided to build two benches for the Delaware Veterans Home after volunteering at the long-term-care facility.
“I went there to volunteer last summer, and I was talking to the coordinator there,” recalled Kypreos. “I said I was a scout, and she said she needed a project done. At the time, I wasn’t Life, so I couldn’t start my project. She said the veterans needed two benches built, because when they’re walking around the area they need a place to rest.”
Kypreos chose to take on the project himself, and undertook it as a multi-month project.
“I had to go and talk to the nurses and ask them what the requirements for the benches would be, because they had to be ADA-compliant,” he explained. “You have to plan out everything ahead of time and get it approved by the scoutmaster, the city councilperson and then give it to Tom Roth” of the Del-Mar-Va Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
“Then you go into fundraising. After you start the project, as you’re going through it, you have to keep track of everything, like the hours. At the end of your project, you have to submit your packet with all the previous information, and a write-up.”
Kypreos thanked Contractors for a Cause, which donated the funds that paid for the project, Michael McCarthy Stones for the donation of pea gravel, and Doug Green Woodworking, who helped cut the wood.
A mortise-and-tenon design was used for both benches, which Kypreos said made them stronger.
“For the benches, I got raw wood instead of a kit. I was trying to find someone with white oak in the dimensions I needed, but no one around here had it. So, we had to go to New York,” he said.
“Adults had to use the power tools and do … some of the cuts — like the curve on the top the arc. White oak is a really hard wood to cut. I went to Bud Green, and he had the tools to help us. It had a lot of intricate cuts that we weren’t able to do, which is why we went to him.”
The parts of the benches were glued together — not just nailed, which Kypreos said made them sturdier.
“Then we sanded it again after we put it together, then stained it with the wood oil. We had to clamp all the parts together, so it took a couple of weeks for the gluing and sanding,” he said. “The back of the benches, it’s slats, and in between are spacers, so we had to put little pieces of wood in between to space it, and then glue those in place. Then we nailed the spacers in.
“It was a really good experience,” he added. “I learned a lot of good leadership skills.”
During the bench installation, he had a number of fellow scouts help as well.
“I went to the troop and asked if anyone wanted to help me do the installation, where we dug up the grass, lay down the barrier for weeds, and then fill it with gravel and put down the 4-by-4. I got a lot of volunteers to help with that.
“After it was done, I felt pretty proud. It was a long process.”
While Kypreos’ project is complete, he still needs to go through a Board of Review before becoming a bona fide Eagle Scout.
“They ask questions about your project and basically your career throughout scouting,” he explained.
He thanked Scoutmaster John Douds and Wayne Stacey for their help throughout the process.
Kypreos himself received a letter of thanks from the Secretary of State and head of Veteran’s Affairs in Delaware for his project.
Scouting, said Kypreos, is something he would encourage all young men to try.
“It’s really fun going camping, and a lot of my friends are in it,” he said. “Once a week on Thursdays, we have a meeting where we go over what the plans are for maybe the next trip. We have a camping trip monthly. If you’re a higher rank, you teach the younger kids skills and stuff from the handbook that they might need, maybe, for the next campout.”
Nick Kypreos, Aidan’s dad, agreed, noting that scouting provides a “growing up process.”
“They’re gaining a lot of life-skills,” he said. “He learned a lot more than carpentry; he learned about fundraising, logistics… It really is a growing-up process — to see somebody young take charge of a project and see it all the way through.
“It shows dedication, it shows discipline and it shows perseverance. Those are key characteristics for somebody later in life. It teaches you so much. It’s not just the sheer knowledge of learning how to take care of yourself and survive in the wilderness.”
Noting that only about 2 percent of scouts will earn the rank of Eagle, Nick Kypreos said he was extremely proud of his son for his hard work and dedication.
“The process, going through, and to see it completed, and knowing people are going to get use out of it — especially veterans — makes you feel very good, and I’m proud for him accomplishing it.”
By Maria Counts