A bird's-eye view: Bauer's Eagle Court has high-tech twist

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Fellow scouts Jesse Maldonado (left), Ben Whisman (center) and Adam Carson (bottom) join John Bauer (right) in building a bench and decorating birdhouses at a workday for Bauer's Eagle Project. The bench is now situated at the Prayer Garden of St. George Catholic Church located off Roscoe Road.

From Staff Reports
closeup@newnan.com
When John Bauer, a Boy Scout with Troop 897 of Newnan, began preparing the script for his Eagle Court of Honor, he never thought that one of his mentors would not be there.
His father, Al Bauer, a long-time scout volunteer and an Eagle Scout himself, had been one of John’s strongest supporters through the year-long process of obtaining the Eagle rank.
But a sudden illness landed the elder Bauer in the hospital just days before the big event.
On the Sunday evening before the Eagle Court scheduled date in November, a serious bacterial infection in his lower leg sent Al Bauer to the emergency room.
As days passed while the doctors prescribed strong antibiotics to fight the illness, it became obvious that he would not be leaving the hospital any time soon.
As the Friday of the ceremony approached, he was not capable of walking more than a few steps.
“Every Eagle Scout has the opportunity to have a Court of Honor where they are recognized for their hard work and dedication,” Scoutmaster Owen Searcy explained. “Participating in John’s Eagle Scout Court of Honor was a great privilege and honor for us. We were disappointed that John’s father who was in the hospital would not be able to attend.”

There was some discussion about postponing the Eagle Court of Honor, but the Bauers decided against that idea, as many of the preparations were already in place, and the approaching holidays would make it difficult to find a good day for all members of the ceremonial team.

“I was disappointed not to be there, of course, but in the long run it’s not about me, it’s about John getting his Eagle,” said Al Bauer. “Although it would not be a perfect day for him because I wasn’t there, we still had everything in line, so I decided we should go ahead with the ceremony.”

Then the leaders of Troop 897 came forward with a new plan. They would use modern technology to bring Al Bauer into this special occasion. On the afternoon of the ceremony, Scoutmaster Owen Searcy, Assistant Scoutmasters Matt MacNamara and Jeff Carson, and John Bauer visited the hospital.

With fellow Eagle Scout Adam Carson serving as cameraman, the group filmed the portion of the ceremony where Al Bauer presented his son with his official Eagle Scout card and letter from the National Office, and John Bauer gave the ceremonial father’s pin in return.

“Our team took this as an opportunity to show some initiative and creativity,” said Search. “A couple of our team members decided to film part of the ceremony at the hospital and play it at the Court of Honor.”

Later that evening, during the church ceremony with a large crowd as witness, two of the assistant scoutmasters, Brian Meeks and Jeremy McCallister, arranged to use Skype to send real-time video between the hospital room and Cornerstone Church, where the ceremony was being held.

“They were able to connect the hospital and our location together using two iPads which allowed John’s father to watch the entire Court of Honor and allowed John to see his father during the ceremony,” said Searcy. “What an awesome experience and testament to the teamwork and camaraderie this Troop continually displays. We are extremely proud of John’s accomplishment.”

Al Bauer was touched at the amount of effort that these volunteers made on his family’s behalf. “I was glad to be part of it, although in a distant fashion, and I was grateful for my scout friends who actually made it happen,” he said.

The Eagle Scout ceremony was opened by Committee Chair Steve Ray. It began with the presentation of the colors by the Flag Team. The team consisted of Davey Allison, senior patrol leader of Troop 897; and four Eagle Scouts, Adam Carson and Jake Kelley with Troop 897; Mark Hammond with Troop 58; and Bharath Shankar with Troop 47. The Scout Oath was administered by Ray, with the Awarding of the Eagle Neckerchief by Scoutmaster Searcy. The Eagle Scout Charge was given by Presenter Jeff Carson. At that time John’s mother, Sandy Bauer, was given the honor of presenting the Eagle Badge to her son.

Then modern technology came into play as the honoree and guests were shown the video previously filmed at the hospital. Assistant Scoutmaster MacNamara read the Letters of Honor from the National Office of BSA.

John Bauer gave a speech on the significance of the Eagle Scout award, with special thanks to those volunteers who assisted him along the path to Eagle, and including touching words of appreciation to his hospitalized father. He then closed the ceremony with a prayer and the retiring of the colors, followed by refreshments in the church narthex.

John’s Eagle Project benefited the Prayer Garden at St. George Catholic Church He led a team of volunteers to provide a number of services, including building and installing a new bench and five birdhouses, grinding about 15 tree stumps, clearing extensive piles of debris and trash, clearing the area of poison ivy and weeds, and planting 40 azaleas.

The Eagle Project was made possible through the hard work of many scouting and school friends, and through the contributions of local businesses.

“I’d like to thank everyone for their contributions, whether it was helping during my workdays or providing much-needed discounts,” said John Bauer. “The project turned out really well, and the prayer garden at St. George will look really beautiful in a few years time as the plants mature. I’m glad I was able to contribute back to a community that I’ve been part of my entire life, and I encourage upcoming Eagle Scouts to do the same. Remember that your project is just as much about your community as it is about you.”


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