By Debbie Adams
Jayden Sink, a junior at William Byrd High School, has attained the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest award in Scouting.
Jayden is a member of Scout Troop 42, which meets at Living Water Christian Church in Salem. He completed his Eagle Scout Board of Review on September 7.
During the review, Eagle Scout candidates are asked questions about their journey through Scouting—a culmination of their entire lives in Scouting to this point–and about the Eagle Scout Project required as part of the process.
One document the scouts are asked to complete is a “Personal Ambition and Life Statement.” Jayden started by describing his first camping experience.
“When I was two years old, I went camping with my mom. We were in Arcadia, right next to the James River Footbridge and the Appalachian Trail. This was my very first and last camping trip until I joined Scouting in 2014.
While his mother was sleeping, he managed to escape from the tent, barefoot, in SpongeBob pajamas, with only a toothbrush in hand. He walked over a mile to the nearest main road where he was picked up by a man on his way to church—a true Good Samaritan.
Jayden was too young to supply any information about his mother, his address, or a telephone number. The man drove him up and down the road, where finally they saw his distraught mother on the side of the road. She offered to give the man her life savings for rescuing Jayden—which he turned down. Jayden figures the man must have been a Scout.
“My mom didn’t take me camping again until I joined Cub Scouts in 2014,” Jayden said.
In the years since he joined the Cub Scouts, Jayden says he has tried to shift his thoughts and actions away from putting himself first to serving others.
Jayden joined Scouting as a fifth-grader in 2014 as a member of Vinton Cub Pack 235. Greg Pino was his first Cubmaster. There have been many highlights in his Scouting journey in the years since.
When he crossed over to Troop 235, he traveled to Brown Sea Island at Camp Ottari, having never been away from home before. He came home a week later with his Scout and Tenderfoot ranks and became Den Chief for Pack 235.
He worked diligently to be elected to the Order of the Arrow and earned his 1st Class Scout rank on his thirteenth birthday. He was then elected as Senior Patrol Leader of Troop 235.
He proudly completed his OA Ordeal in the Fall of 2018. He went on to earn his Star Scout Rank and served as Senior Patrol Leader of Troops 235 and 137; he next completed his OA Brotherhood honor level and his Life Scout Rank—the second-highest rank in Scouting. He was Order of the Arrow, Tutelo Lodge, Mingo Chapter Chief in February 2021.
“I am proud that since becoming a Scout over 2262 days ago, I have held a leadership position in scouting for over 2088 days,” Jayden said.
He has completed 36 merit badges, including all 13 Eagle Required Merit badges, plus Archery, Art, Basketry, Canoeing, Chemistry, Chess, Climbing, Crime Prevention, Digital Technology, Disabilities Awareness, Electricity, Fingerprinting, Fishing, Game Design, Indian Lore, Leatherwork, Reading, Safety, Small Board Sailing, Welding, Whitewater, Wilderness Survival, and Wood Carving. He completed the Staff Training Program for Camp Staff and served on staff at Camp Powhatan in the summer of 2021, facilitating handicraft skills and assisting where needed. The Tutelo Lodge Chief recommended him for 2021 as the Chief of Camp in his absence.
“Scouting renewed my spirit and helped me believe in myself,” Jayden said. “I know that I would not have recognized my purpose, found my talents, made lifelong friendships, or have confidence in myself and my abilities if it wasn’t for the Scouting programs. I have learned who I am, who I want to be, who I can be, and who others see me as from scouting opportunities and the many volunteer leaders that guided me.”
For his Eagle Scout Project. Jayden chose to build an inclusion playground at the Troutville Church of the Brethren.
“I chose this project because my younger brother has autism,” Jayden explains. “Every day, he fights to be included and accepted, and many times he is turned away or bullied due to not always understanding how to act in social settings. He has handled more disappointment and ridicule than I could ever imagine, and he has handled it with class, dignity, and courage. He is so resilient, determined, and brave, but he shouldn’t have to be. Everyone needs to be, and feel, included.”
“Regardless of a child’s preference or abilities, that there are activities for them to engage in,” Jayden said. “An inclusion playground will allow children of any ability to play and be included. By making sure that the playground includes elements of play for all, children will be able to have fun without the segregation or lack of accommodation.”
Jayden says that working with his brother in Scouting over the years has given him a different perspective. He researched, got creative, and explored various options to help him understand complex concepts. That led Jayden and his mother, Janette Hunt (Assistant Scout Master), to find alternative ways to explain challenging concepts to those who learn differently.
“As a result, my mom incorporated these methods, and she and I became advocates for all abilities, to include, understand, and work with scouts who needed more patience, a different perspective, and a feeling that they do belong. As my scouting career has progressed, I have found that my strengths and leadership skills center around those with different abilities.”
Eagle Scout candidates not only design plans for their project but also raise funds to build it. Because of COVID, fundraising was a little more challenging this past year. Not deterred, Jayden set up a fundraising page with GoFundMe and surpassed his goal of $1300, raising $2000.
Troop 42 Committee Chair Joe Ostronic says guidelines are pretty stringent for completing Eagle Scout projects. Construction of the inclusion playground was made even more difficult than usual this year due to industry-wide shortages of construction materials due to COVID.
Once the funds are raised, and supplies are priced and purchased, the Eagle Scout candidate supervises the construction of the project—not so much doing the construction himself, but organizing and directing the host of others involved in the actual building from Scout leaders to Cub and Troop members on multiple days.
There was already a playground at the church, but in great disrepair, Jayden’s plan involved moving it around to the back of the parking lot and replacing and adding components to make it ADA compliant. Even the mulch meets ADA standards. The playground is built according to Day Care code if the church ever wants to add a day care program to its ministries
Members of Troop 42 decided to add a new tradition to the Eagle Scout Review Board night. They gathered in the church parking lot at Raleigh Court Presbyterian Church while Jayden was undergoing his review to make support and congratulations posters so that, according to his mother, “when he finishes and walks outside he will be greeted with a true testament of what Scouting and Troop 42 is all about—spirit, belief, support, encouragement, success, friendship, and love.”
Hawk Hillberry is the Scoutmaster of Troop 42, formed in 2019, as a “Scoutabilities” troop, described by Jayden as “our area’s all-abilities unit” to meet the needs of scouts of all ability levels. The troop began with five members and has now grown to 17. Jayden is the second Scout in Troop 42 to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout.
Jayden’s Eagle Scout Court of Honor Ceremony is scheduled for September 25.