Two of Syryth Mitchell’s fondest memories are spending summer vacations at the Annville Cleona Community Pool and being a Boy Scout.

As a way to give back to a place that provided countless hours of entertainment and gave him so much joy, Mitchell decided to complete his Eagle Scout project at the community pool. Mitchell noted that he joined the pool when he was 5 and the scout program in the second grade, beginning at the Wolf Scout level.

“I went to the pool my entire life and was a member of the pool’s swim team,” says the 19-year-old Mitchell, a sophomore who’s studying political science and digital communications at Lebanon Valley College. “I’ve known the (pool’s) head manager and the family really well since I was young, and I wanted to give back to the pool since I’ve received so much enjoyment out of it my entire life.”

When he inquired about what restoration project he could do as he prepared to begin his Eagle Scout project, pool management had a ready answer to that question.

“They presented that they wanted the pavilion refurbished,” says Mitchell, who added that he completed the project in 2019. (Due to delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Mitchell’s Eagle Scout awards recognition ceremony was held last Sunday.)

To acquire his Eagle Scout, Mitchell was required to complete a new project that would be beneficial to the recipient. Simply renovating the pavilion, as much as it was needed, would not allow him to complete the Eagle Scout program, a seven-year journey he began at age 10 and completed when he was 17 years old.

“I asked if I could add a fun activity for the children to do in addition to swimming,” said Mitchell. “I asked if I could build a gaga ball pit and they agreed to it.”

Mitchell and a team of volunteers refurbished the north pavilion and then painted the entire structure. Mitchell and crew also replaced the slate at the pavilion’s fireplace, which was in disrepair after many years of use.

“The pavilion looked like it hadn’t been painted in 20 years,” said Mitchell. “The very bottom of the entire sidewall was built too low, so it had a lot of water erosion and the boards had rotted. On the back wall, which is part of the fireplace, we replaced the slate and bottom foot of the board along that wall.”

During the project, Mitchell logged over 110 hours of work and the crew completed a total of 530 hours of service at the pavilion and while building the 20- by 30-foot gaga ball pit.

Mitchell added the project couldn’t have happened without the team’s assistance — from the excavation company that dug the gaga ball pit gratis to the volunteers who provided the manpower — and he’s grateful for their support.

“I want to thank my family, they’ve been big supporters my entire life and assisted me in trying to get this Eagle ranking over the past seven years,” said Mitchell. “A lot of companies went out of their way to help with this project, either making donations or greatly reducing the cost of materials and supplies. There’s also my extended family, friends and organizations that made donations toward the project. We couldn’t even have attempted to afford the project without their support.”

Obtaining his Eagle Scout ranking, in many ways, is the culmination of a lifetime of community service for Mitchell, who is continuing to serve at LVC as a tutor and he’s applied to be on the college’s Student Council and Honors Council government bodies.

“I’ve done community service my entire life and it is something I enjoy doing because I love to help others,” said Mitchell.

The Boy Scouts program, Mitchell added, focuses on teaching its members the value of giving back to the community.

“Scouting puts you through that over and over again and it really promotes and helps better people’s lives,” said Mitchell. “The Boy Scouts motto is ‘Do a good turn daily,’ and we strive to do that not only as scouts but throughout our entire lives.”

Syryth Mitchell, left, and a team of volunteers work to improve the pavilion at Annville Cleona Community Pool.

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