Scout builds canyon bridge to earn Eagle standing

Boy Scout Andrew James achieved his newly bestowed Eagle Scout honor by building a much-needed bridge in Gonzales Canyon.

James, 18, is a recent Canyon Crest Academy graduate who will attend Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in the fall, majoring in mechanical engineering.

Eagle Scout is the highest honor for a Boy Scout. Only 4 percent nationally gain their Eagle status, as it takes a great deal of time and effort, said Claude Organ, Troop 713 assistant scoutmaster. Not only do the scouts have to rack up 21 merit badges, they also have to plan and complete a service project to benefit their community, church or school.

Organ said the Boy Scouts are one of the most "wholesome and significant movements in America," teaching young people like James to be leaders and to use their strength, intelligence and skills to do honest work and be a good example in their communities.

James' bridge in Gonzales Canyon creates a connection over an 8-foot wide gorge that was previously unpassable. The bridge is about 600 feet from the canyon's trailhead near Torrey Highlands Park.

Building a bridge down in a canyon was no easy task, James said. Friends and fellow troop members helped, spending their weekends first hauling rocks to fill the gorge and then the wood to build the bridge.

James' project was funded by Pardee Homes through their Environmental Conservation Foundation.

James officially became an Eagle Scout at a special Court of Honor celebration at Carmel Valley Library on Saturday. He has had a long career in scouts, starting out with the pinewood derby and rounding out with several "high adventure" camping trips to the Grand Canyon, Mt. Whitney, Yosemite and New Mexico.

"Andrew was a standout in the crowd, quiet, engaged in the moment and a model scout," said Scoutmaster Mark Filanc, who has known James for close to 18 years.

In the ceremony, James lit 12 candles representing the points of scout law: trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. Filanc said James exemplified all of those qualities.

   
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