Greenfield native earns Eagle Scout rank

  • Cooper Gilkes, of Greenfield, as a Tiger Scout when he was a child. Contributed Photo/Martha Maloney

  • For his Eagle Scout Service Project, Greenfield resident Cooper Gilkes organized the construction of a Gaga ball pit at Camp Lion Knoll. Contributed Photo/Martha Maloney

  • Troop 5 Scouts Ruari Maloney (left), Andy Bostrom (second from right) and Troop 8 Eagle Scout Josh Lamere (right) review instructions with Cooper Gilkes while working on Gilkes’ Eagle Scout Service Project: the construction of a Gaga ball pit at Camp Lion Knoll. Contributed Photo/Martha Maloney

  • Cooper Gilkes, of Greenfield, takes the Eagle Scout oath. Contributed Photo/Martha Maloney

  • Troop 5 Committee Chair Neal Jennison leads Cooper Gilkes in the Eagle Scout oath. Contributed Photo/Martha Maloney

For the Recorder
Published: 2/26/2020 5:46:16 PM

GREENFIELD — Looking back at nearly a decade with the Boy Scouts of America, Greenfield Troop 5’s Cooper Gilkes said earning merit badges was one of his favorite parts of scouting, and is part of what got him into scouting to begin with.

“It was the ability to learn almost any skill that interested you that was really the huge draw for me,” he said. “They allowed the Scouts to work on skills or topics that interested them, such as nuclear science, rifle shooting, archeology and many more.”

Gilkes recently earned the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest honor in the Boy Scouts of America. While the title of Eagle Scout is awarded to honored Boy Scouts during their youth, the title is often one the awarded carry proudly for the rest of their lives.

He began his path to Eagle as a Tiger Scout in Pack 3, but joined Troop 5 after earning his Arrow of Light rank as a Cub Scout. During his time with the local Boy Scout troop, Gilkes held multiple leadership positions. He served as assistant senior patrol leader, webmaster and as the den chief for Pack 3 for over four years. To earn the rank of Eagle Scout, Gilkes had to complete his Service Project.

Gilkes’ Eagle service project benefited the Girls Club of Greenfield’s Camp Lion Knoll, and was something he had planned since he first started thinking about becoming an Eagle Scout. He started attending programs at the Girls Club of Greenfield when he was 3, and, when old enough, Gilkes attended Camp Lion Knoll for multiple summers, and remembered his time there happily.

“We did activities such as nature walks or hikes, swimming lessons in the afternoon followed by a free-swim, along with many group-based activities, such as group talent shows,” Gilkes recalled. “And an end-of-year ‘survival’ camp-out at the main lodge for the oldest group.”

He reached out to Program Director Sarah Hubert to find out what Camp Lion Knoll might need, and learned that a Gaga ball pit was high on their wish list. Gilkes found a design that matched Hubert’s requirements, then developed a list of needed materials, wrote a proposal and submitted his plan to the Scout Council for approval.

While a Scout, Gilkes participated in the annual popcorn sale and set his share of each year’s proceeds aside to cover the cost of materials for his Eagle Scout project. He and Hubert chose a location for the Gaga ball pit, and a team of Scouts, family and friends gathered to build it. A bulk of the work was completed over a sunny weekend in May, and Lion Knoll campers used the Gaga ball pit for the first time when camp opened last summer. Gilkes was invited to visit that day and watch the first game.

As one of his last Scouting projects, Gilkes set up and ran an orienteering station for more than 100 Cub Scouts who attended the district-wide Yukon Days for Cub Scouts in January.

“This was a station we had at my own first Yukon Days, and I always remembered it because it was the first time that group cooperation, rather than competition, was one of the major points of the station,” Gilkes said. “I wanted to try and deliver the same experience to the Cubs that I had a lot of fun with in my own Cub Scouting days.”

Gilkes is a senior at Franklin County Technical School in the Programming and Web Design Shop. He is a member of the National Honor Society, has acted in FCTS Players productions and has enjoyed a role as a performer at the annual Mutton & Mead medieval festival weekend for many years. Among other achievements, Gilkes earned his OSHA certification, First Aid certification and is certified in multiple programming languages through his shop at Franklin Tech.




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