Eagle Scout delivers supplies to schoolchildren in Africa
Carson Leavitt was inspired by an African safari to start working toward his Eagle Scout rank when he was in the eighth grade.
Carson, now a junior at Kamiak High School, completed all of the requirements two years before his 18th birthday, the deadline for achieving scouting’s highest award.
“It’s pretty cool,” Carson said of earning Eagle. “It’s a cool accomplishment that teaches you a lot of skills. I think it will be really useful for the future.
“A lot of scouts who didn’t work to get their Eagle said it was one of their biggest regrets.”
His Court of Honor ceremony was held Sept. 25 at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Mukilteo. Carson is from Mukilteo Troop 17.
“I’m really happy,” said Carson’s dad, Shane Leavitt. “When I got my Eagle Scout it was something that I wanted to instill in my son. It provided an opportunity as a father to spend time with my son, but also do something important.”
There are seven requirements – including 21 merit badges, a service project and six months in a leadership role – before scouts may become an Eagle Scout.
For his service project, Carson and nine volunteers delivered hundreds of dollars worth of school supplies to South African children in need.
Carson led the project. He and his volunteers held a school supplies drive at the Mormon church, packaged the donations for travel on a plane, and then he and his dad delivered the supplies to a school in South Africa.
It took about 75 man-hours to complete the project. In a month, they collected 300 pounds of notebooks, paper, pens, pencils, markers, crayons, scissors, calculators and more.
Carson, of Mukilteo, actually has 23 merit badges – two more than required. His favorite badges were in small boat sailing, wilderness survival and radio.
He also served as senior patrol leader of Troop 17 for the last six months. He helped organize campouts, mentored the younger scouts by setting an example, and helped the leaders whenever they needed it.
When searching for a project, his family won an African safari for two at a dinner and auction benefitting the Explorer Middle School band. He played the tenor saxophone in the band.
“No one else was bidding on it, so we got it,” Carson said. “It was a pretty expensive item for a middle school band auction.”
While he and his dad were getting ready for their trip to South Africa, it hit Carson: He should do his project in Africa.
After the African safari in 2014, Carson and his dad drove their rental car through a lion preserve to get to the Ekuphindiseni Primary School in Mansiya, South Africa. It was surrounded by barbed-wire fence to keep the lions out and had armed guards to protect the students.
The school principal presented Carson a letter of thanks after he delivered the school supplies.
“We at Ekuphindiseni Primary, staff and learners, appreciated the visit of Carson and his father to our school,” the principal wrote. “We appreciated their donations of pens, crayons, notebooks and calculators, as well as other stuff.
“All the stationery material will be distributed among our learners and will make a great difference. The donations will lift our school.”
As Carson piled all the donations for the school onto a teacher’s desk, the students were all smiles.
“It was serendipitous that we went on that safari,” Leavitt said of his son’s project. “It was nice to see his enthusiasm to help children in Africa. It was good for my son to see how these kids lived and how fortunate he really is.
“These kids go to school in the middle of nowhere, and he wanted to see that they had some supplies.”
They learned that about 510 children dressed in blue school uniforms walk 6 miles without shoes through the lion preserve – 3 miles there and back – to get an education.
“They are really dedicated and want to get their education,” Carson said. “It’s nice to know that our school supplies are going to a good cause. Those kids really needed them.”