FINKSBURG - It's not hard to spot a Eagle Scout project when standing anywhere on the property of Calvary United Methodist Church in Finksburg.
A large brick planter, paved pathway, retaining wall, various plants and trees and an outdoor praying area with a wooden cross and benches were all planned and constructed by Boy Scouts from Troop 735 on their way to the Eagle Scout rank.
Jack Bitzel, 15, hopes to become the 50th Eagle Scout in the troop after completing his project to add a 25-foot flag pole surrounded by white brick and boxwood bushes.
He chose to do the project, which he hopes to have completed in June, because he thought it would a good way to add some patriotism and beauty to the church's property.
Bitzel is required to keep a binder full of information about his project, including emails and signatures from various organization leaders, time logs, receipts and fund raising counts and computerized sketches he made of his plans.
It's all part of a rigorous process to achieve the Eagle Scout rank, said his father Chris Bitzel, who is also the Troop 735 Scoutmaster.
For the project, Boy Scouts have to pick something that helps the community and are responsible for all the fund raising and volunteering efforts to get the project complete, Chris Bitzel said.
In addition to the project, Boy Scouts who want to be Eagle Scouts have to complete 21 merit badges and must have taken a leadership position within the troop, he said.
After they complete their project, they have to undergo a board of review process, where they spend about an hour and a half answering questions about their project and their time as a Boy Scout, Bitzel said.
Paul Worley, former Scoutmaster who is now the troop's chaplain, said many Scouts have chosen projects that help the church because the church has helped their troop out so much by providing them their own space to gather and decorate with their photographs and awards.
Boys who achieve the Eagle Scout rank show others that they have persistence, can finish large projects and have extremely strong leadership skills, Worley said, things that will help them often later in life.
"I don't know if it's an inherent quality they all have, or if it's something they develop during their years in Scouting," Worley said. "But if you look at Eagle Scouts, across the board they do well in life and many, many are in leadership positions."
Whether his Scouts achieve the Eagle Scout rank or not, they all grow in positive ways through their time in the troop, Bitzel said.
"The biggest thrill about being involved with this is watching these boys mature into men," Bitzel said. "You see little signs and glimpses of them maturing from the time they join when they're 10 or so to the time they finish at 18 and it's a great thing to witness."