Local Boy Scout cleans up Bremerton park

Luke McMillan flips through his Eagle Scout project binder. - Seraine Page
Luke McMillan flips through his Eagle Scout project binder.
— image credit: Seraine Page

There were 15 tires, a broken doll, fallen trees and Paul’s engraved bowling ball.

All of the items were recently removed from the “scenery” at East Park by Luke McMillan, a local Boy Scout, and fellow volunteers. Although the volunteers couldn’t clear all 47 acres, McMillan tried his best to make the polluted park look better than it did.

McMillan, 16, is active in troop 1539 and wanted to jump start his Eagle Project by working on a nearby park he knew was in dire need of cleaning up. According to the Boy Scouts of America website, the Eagle Scout is the “highest advancement rank” in Boy Scouting. Last year, almost 58,000 Scouts earned this rank more than any prior year, states the site.

“It needed a  lot of work. It hasn’t been worked on in 20 years,” he said of East Park. The park was close to his Bremerton home, so it was “easy to get a project going” he said of the cleanup process.

The process to select a project was a “lengthy one” and involved mounds of paperwork, negotiating and working with a variety of leaders to get the project rolling, said Wendy McMillan, Luke’s mother. Although she’s proud of her son for dedicating three weekends and about 10 hours of his time to cleaning up, she said the group was barely able to scratch the surface in terms of beautification.

“It’s terrible down there,” she said. “We just made a small dent.”

In addition to removing garbage for the park, volunteers built steps in steep areas and built benches out of fallen trees that blocked trails within the park. McMillan said he had the help of about eight other people, including volunteers and fellow Scouts.

An Eagle Project requires a Scout plan, develop and give leadership in a service project. The project must help society in some capacity, whether it is a school, religious organization or community. McMillan will also need to complete a board of review, where he will be required to turn in a statement of his ambitions and life purpose and a variety of positions he’s held in the community.

The application shouldn’t be too hard to fill. He will be entering his junior year at Bremerton High School with a 3.2 GPA while balancing weekly Boy Scout meetings and varsity swimming and baseball activities. He’s also trying to get a job as a lifeguard at the YMCA in Bremerton.

McMillan, a tall and shy young man, is modest when it comes to talking about himself. He doesn’t like sharing that he has 31 total merit badges, that he’s hiked 80 miles of a park, and that he spends a large portion of his time doing good in the community. Asking about his achievements is like pulling teeth, but eventually he shares a little bit of what he’s done.

“It’s just in my character, I guess,” he said simply.

However, McMillan’s mom, who works in the Bremerton School District, is more than happy to share information about her only son. She said numerous teachers, co-workers and friends always say how impressive her son is in the way he carries himself.

“I think the community should know about his hard work and effort to help clean up and make the park a better place for all citizens,” she remarked.

“I think Luke will always give back … he wants to join the military and serve his country.”

He hopes to serve in the Navy as a fighter pilot one day, he said. She originally signed her son up in first grade to join the troop because her husband was constantly deployed on submarines, and she wanted her son to be active in his community.

“I wanted him to be around positive male role models … that was the main reason and we just stayed,” she said.

McMillan’s mother said that she’s watched her son grow in friendships and that she herself has even made friends with other involved parents.

“I met a lot of great people,” she said. “People I’ll be friends with probably the rest of my life. I’m glad that we did it.”


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