Boy Scout bridges muddy gap in city trail system

Kamiak sophomore builds wooden bridge in Japanese Gulch
By Marie Haaland | Beacon reporter | Aug 23, 2017
Photo by: Marie Haaland Boy Scout Ethan Papenhausen, 15, stands next to the bridge he built this summer along a trail in Japanese Gulch for his Eagle Scout project. Papenhausen is a sophomore at Kamiak High School.

Next time you’re walking through Japanese Gulch, you won’t have to worry about stepping in the mud thanks to 15-year-old Ethan Papenhausen’s Eagle Scout project.

Papenhausen built a wooden bridge across a 17-foot gully, put gravel on both ends of the bridge to make it easier for people to walk across, and cleared out surrounding blackberry bushes.

“I enjoyed that I did a big community service to the people who go though there,” he said. “I think they’re going to really appreciate it. Five or six people came through when I was building it, and they were so supportive.”

The newly constructed bridge is located at the 19th Street entrance to the gulch. Papenhausen has friends who live in that area, and said, “I think that place really needed something like that.”

Eagle Scout projects have a set of requirements, but allow for the Boy Scout to choose something that truly aids their community.

“It has to be something that benefits a community and has to be more than one person. It has to be bigger than just a small thing,” Papenhausen said. “It really depends on what the community needs.”

He started planning his project last summer. Papenhausen was originally wanting to put trail signs in Japanese Gulch, but that became part of a larger city project, so he began looking for something else to do.

“I met with the city planner, Karl Almgren, and he has a whole list of projects that are perfect for Eagle Scouts,” Papenhausen said. Almgren suggested this project for Papenhausen. “I thought I’d check it out and I ended up choosing this one.”

The project ended up costing about $300. Papenhausen raised enough money to pay for most of it through a GoFundMe webpage.

About eight people showed up to help with the construction of the bridge in the gulch. This mostly included fellow members of Troop 16, but a couple of adults and family friends of Papenhausen’s came to assist, as well. The project was finished over the course of a single day, taking about 5 hours overall.

Papenhausen joined the Boy Scouts in first grade, and has been a part of the program ever since. He is currently a sophomore at Kamiak High School and has a few more steps to complete before becoming an Eagle Scout. This involves taking part in a Scoutmaster conference and a review of his scouting and progress so far.

Papenhausen plans to continue in Boy Scouts until he is 18, when he will age out. His advice for younger Boy Scouts is to “do as much as early as you can.”

He added, “I’d say rank early, get all the requirements done early. Once life starts – when you’re 16 or 17 – you don’t really have time anymore.”

Papenhausen does hope that being a part of Boy Scouts – and projects like this one – will help him in the future.

“It’s a really great thing, especially for colleges,” he said. “Being involved shows character and leadership – that shows a lot about a person.”

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