Scouts build bat boxes, birdhouses

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 29, 2004

Some might call them batty for staying out in the elements, but these boys were committed to building on their nature experience by providing shelter for native wildlife.

Saturday, five of the eight boys from Boy Scout Troop 38 in Proctorville began installing bat boxes and building bluebird boxes at Lake Vesuvius. The weather wasn't exactly cooperative for the scouts, however.

"It hailed, then it rained, then it was sunny, then it rained again," Nicholas Mannon, an 11-year-old Scout from Proctorville, said.

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Nevertheless, the troop was able to build 11 bluebird boxes by mid-afternoon Saturday and one of their leaders said he was determined to keep working until materials (or the scouts) were exhausted.

"I've about worn them out building bird boxes," Mark Sexton, assistant troop leader from Proctorville, said chuckling.

But the experience was rewarding for the Scouts.

"It helps us with our community service projects," Matt Johnston, a 15-year-old Life Scout from Proctorville, said. "We have to have so many hours (to earn a badge) and this will help me towards my Eagle rank."

Johnston's fellow Life Scout and Mark Sexton's son Josh agreed.

"I think it's good because we're getting camping time out of this too," Josh Sexton, 13, from Proctorville, said. "The younger boys get some more camping experience."

The project began after talking with park officials to see how the troop might be able to help the facility and earn merit badges in the process, Sexton said. They told Sexton there was an urgent need for bluebird and bat boxes. The park donated some of the materials, as well as the campsite for the Scouts to stay while they built and installed the boxes.

Sexton said they found pattern instructions for both types of boxes on the Internet. The bat boxes should be especially helpful considering that endangered Indiana bats were nesting in the bathhouse at the park's beach area. The new structures are especially designed for the bats' size and habits.

Even more important, the project gives the Scouts the opportunity to be active in their community, Sexton said. The boys will be taking home a bluebird box to install at their own home.

"It helps teach them about improving an area and helping wildlife. Some wildlife, like endangered species, may need some extra helpŠIt's just to help teach responsibility that there are things people can do to make improvements and help wildlife."