Gregory Colquitt remembers vividly the day he got hooked on Scouting. It wasn’t pretty.
“What really got me was the Pinewood Derby,” said Colquitt. “That was awesome. I was 7. I made a very primitive pinewood car with the help of my dad. Our Cub Scout pack used the slide at Sandy Springs Park as a track because we didn’t have an actual track. As you can imagine, it didn’t work out very well. These cars were going sideways sliding down the slide. It was chaos, but it was still fun.”
This past fall Colquitt completed the project necessary for him to attain the rank of Eagle Scout when he built a bench for the Asian Garden at Maryville Middle School. The Maryville High School junior completed his project on Sept. 3 and earned Eagle on Oct. 24.
Colquitt is the son of Dr. Mark and Melony Colquitt. He has a sister, Brittany, and a brother, Brad.
Scouting has been a lifelong activity for Colquitt as he has been doing it since the first grade. “It feels like I’ve been doing it since I came out of the womb,” he said.
Colquitt said when he was younger, Scouting was simply a fun thing to do. “I really didn’t have much going on except for playing with friends, and it was encouraged by my parents to participate,” he said. “Then I discovered I liked it and wanted to keep going. I didn’t really have a reason not to do it. At the time I started, I had no idea the benefits that were in store for me.”
Colquitt progressed through Cub Scouts and became a Webelos, which was the transition between Cub Scout and Boy Scout. He then progressed to the first stage of Boy Scouting as a Tenderfoot. “We had to meet certain requirements such as tying knots or being able to care for someone in case of hypothermia,” he said. “It was basic things a Scout should be able to do.”
As years passed Colquitt continued to progress through the ranks, first attaining Star rank, the Life and then finally Eagle.
What made the pursuit attainable was there were some merit badges required for Eagle that troops could attain together, such as the aviation merit badge. “It was very helpful. My scoutmaster, Mark Smith, made it easier to get many of the badges. He coordinated activities for our troop, such as a trip to the USS Yorktown. In doing so, we receive requirements to receive our aviation badge,” Colquitt said. “He was very motivational because he wanted all of us to get to Eagle and do it quickly. It really made it easier and more enjoyable, and it didn’t seem so much of a burden to get all the badges you have to earn.”
As Colquitt got closer to attaining Eagle status, he needed a project. Pete Carter, an assistant scoutmaster, suggested he build a bench for the Asian Garden created by the Anime Club at Maryville Middle School.
Home Depot has a policy of donating $50 toward any Eagle Scout project. That grant plus help from the school’s Anime Club helped cover the costs of the project.
Colquitt’s father introduced his son to Shao Quing Deng, a lab technician who enjoys wood working. He helped Colquitt with the design of a curved decorative piece that goes in the middle of the bench underneath the platform.
“Once it was completed, we picked a day and brought it over to the middle school,” he said. “We had a problem of deciding how to get it stationary, so my dad and I came with the idea to make a heavy platform of 2 x 4s. Originally we thought we could put it in concrete. Having the platform allows the school to move it, but gave it a sturdy base.”
It took a while to get the job done simply because Colquitt has a busy schedule. “Amidst my busy schedule, I think it probably took about a year, from the time I got the suggestion to obtaining the materials and building it,” he said. “Having that bench moved out of our garage after sitting there for so long was like 100 pounds off our backs. It felt so good to finally get it done.”
To Colquitt, building the bench was more than adding a decorative/functional piece to the Asian Garden at the middle school. “It’s gratifying in that I know I’m helping someone else out, which is the Scout spirit. Basically it’s my way of leaving my mark. Especially in the school system, it’s somewhere I’ve been,” he said. “I walked those halls, was part of that school, and I wanted to leave some kind of improvement for that school. It’s my way of giving back.”