Eagle project adds fire ring to Walker Park
Malik Thalji checks out some of the stones he will use on his Eagle Scout project alongside Joyce Williams of Burr Ridge. | Steve Johnston~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 13, 2012 1:46AM
Less than a week after graduating from Lyons Township High School, Malik Thalji of Boy Scout Troop 69 spent his weekend completing his Eagle Scout Service Project, the culmination of an Eagle Scout candidate’s leadership training.
“The Eagle Project is supposed to show that you can plan and lead a project through to completion,” Thalji said. “You’re supposed to do all the planning and organizing with as little outside help as possible.”
An Eagle Scout is the highest rank a Boy Scout can attain, and to achieve the rank, one must first complete an Eagle Project. According to Boys Scouts of America rules, an Eagle Project must not benefit the troop or BSA directly and must benefit the community.
Thalji’s project was building a 15-foot diameter stone fire ring with accompanying stone apron for the Pleasant Dale Park District, 7425 Wolf Road, across the street from Pleasantdale Middle School.
“I went to the park district and asked if they had anything they’d be willing to let me do, and they said they had been wanting to put in a fire ring for awhile,” said Thalji. “I jumped on the idea, because it’s definitely a cool project.”
Previously sponsored by the park district, Troop 69 has done other service projects for the organization and continues to host an annual pancake breakfast in conjunction with the park district every summer. St. Helena’s Episcopal Church now sponsors the troop.
“Once I had a project figured out, I went out and priced materials and got input from my leaders, who knew the kinds of tools and work that would need to go into it. Everything took several months to plan,” Thalji said.
“I got all my stone from Tamelings Landscape Supply and rented my sod cutter from Sunbelt. I was really lucky to get some great discounts from them.”
The fire ring construction began last Friday evening and resumed Saturday morning at 9 a.m. A group of volunteers, including current Scoutmaster Ken Zolniercyk, past Scoutmasters Bob Furke and Ron Fox, along with parents and other troop members were there to assist in the building.
First, Malik and other volunteers cut out the area for the fire ring and then re-filled it with 3 tons of gravel. Next, they poured in sand and made sure the area was level. Then the fire ring stones were assembled, followed by the installation of the mosaic-style stone apron.
“Originally, the park district wanted to do s’mores when we were done, but we didn’t want people to the smell the fumes from the glue or risk upsetting the adhesive,” former Scoutmaster Furke said. “It’s too bad, but it’s better this way.”
With his Eagle project complete, Thalji plans on getting the required certification to be a leader at Boy Scout camps. He will also start school at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa in the fall. He plans to major in biology and later apply to dental school.
“I do think that being in Boy Scouts helped me get into college as well as teaching me a lot about personal responsibility and leadership,” Thalji said. “I definitely plan on being a leader during my school breaks.”