Constructing a place of peace
For his Eagle Scout project, St. Paul youth Sam Dickman created a place for youth to study and serve God, connect with their peers and enjoy the beauty of the outdoors for years to come.
14-year-old Sam Dickman worked hard to reach this accomplishment. From Cub Scouts in first grade to entering Boy Scouts in 5th grade and climbing the boy scout ranks by achieving merit badge after merit badge. From Tenderfoot to second class and up to Life Scout, the goal of his nearly ten years of hard work is to reach the rank of Eagle Scout. And to reach that rank, a final capstone project must be completed. Where this project would take place was an easy decision for Sam.
“Two things they instill in Boy Scouts, now BSA, are leadership and citizenship – giving back to people. I’ve been going to Camp Shalom since I was really young, about 2 or 3 years old. First for family camps and then summer camps. It’s always been a big part of my life. I had a big part of my faith life formed by my experiences at camp.”
So he approached Camp Shalom to see if they had a need he could fill. Working with Dwayne, the Camp Shalom maintenance director, the two found the perfect spot in need of a new Bible Study space.
Beginning with a 32-page Eagle Scouts workbook, Sam worked through a project plan including a cost breakdown of materials, volunteer needs, project phases, logistics, and more.
“Dwayne really left it up to Sam. We knew we needed a fence, we would need mulch to hold down weed growth and make it look nice. But what it would look like, how to design it, how to support and stabilize it so it stays in place, Dwayne gave Sam the creative control,” said Sam’s dad, Scott Dickman.
From start to finish
One of the main requirements of the capstone project is to demonstrate leadership and Sam did just that. Sam assembled a crew of more than 40 volunteers to dig, build, fill, haul, and clean. It takes a lot of time and help to complete a project from scratch. The work hours for the finalized project totaled around 400, with nearly 50 of those hours being just Sam designing, planning, and coordinating the different pieces and volunteers.
“Once volunteers arrived in the morning I would split them into different groups for the jobs we needed to accomplish. The first day was very difficult because in the maintenance shop we had a group building benches but the group clearing out our new area was about half a mile away. It was a lot of going back and forth to communicate with them.”
In addition to the volunteers working at Camp Shalom, family, friends, and local businesses stepped up to help.
Sam raised money and supplies by first sending out letters to families and friends to support the project and asking for donations. Next he worked with local companies for in-kind supply donations. A total of $1,555 was raised in cash gifts alone and around $2,000 in lumber, mulch, and other material donations from companies like Builders First Source, Hahn Ready Mix, and Markman Peat. The funds were used to purchase any additional materials needed and to help keep volunteers fed and hydrated.
Not only was Sam able to cover the project’s expenses but the generosity of so many led to a cash surplus with Sam donating an excess of $700 back to Camp Shalom.
“It feels really good to accomplish a project of this magnitude,” Sam said. “The things I learned were organization, work ethic, and leadership. It teaches you a lot about follow-through and working hard to finish things. The leadership skills I learned from it were huge. Being a good leader isn’t telling people what to do but it’s leading by example. Which isn’t always an easy thing to do. Helping to keep volunteers motivated by communicating with them.”
The completed project features five benches, a new fence, a beautiful view of the water through the trees, and the proud work of Sam Dickman.
A place of peace
The history of Camp Shalom begins with St. Paul, which first purchased the land for a camp in 1976. Originally called “St. Paul Outdoor Ministry Center,” it primarily served youth of the congregation. A master plan was formed to provide a vision of the future. Volunteers labored to turn the rough farmland into a working campsite. They constructed cabins, cleared trails, cooked meals, and created a summer program.
By 1995, many of the buildings from the master plan were in place, but summer camp was very small. The people of St. Paul felt that the sole ownership of Camp Shalom was limiting the camp’s potential. Therefore, in 1996, Camp Shalom incorporated as an independent ecumenical ministry.
Camp Shalom continues to grow. This Bible Study space will be used by cabins at summer camp to study different topics and grow in their faith. Summer camps, retreats, and other gatherings still bring people of all ages out to camp. Shalom, the name a young camper offered as an idea, is a Hebrew word meaning peace. Often used as a greeting, it can also mean the kind of peace only God can give.
And Sam has brought to Camp Shalom a place to gather, to connect, and to find peace with friends and with God.