2012-04-13 / Neighbors
Simi Scout shares passion for trees
Some of his favorites reside in Sequoia National Park, a place his family has traveled to for the past several summers to take in the beauty of the world’s largest trees.
But Collin also revels in nature here at home in Simi Valley. The 14-year-old’s local escape of choice is Corriganville Park.
“It’s pretty much my home. It’s basically the only real place I feel close to nature (in Simi Valley),” he said. “Because there’s all these oaks here and I love them.”
Collin has frequented the park since he was a Cub Scout, exploring “almost every place” in Corriganville, located on the east end of town off of Kuehner Drive. During his hikes he’s found wheel markings still left in the sandstone from when wagon trains used to roll through the area, as well as an artificial cave.
The Santa Susana High School freshman has simply fallen in love with the history of the area.
“If you’ve ever read it, this used to be called Hopetown because Bob Hope owned it. And they also made lots and lots of Westerns here,” Collin explained, while perched on a rock in the park. “Have you ever heard of ‘Little House on the Prairie’? They filmed some of that here, close in the hills, and a few John Wayne movies. So it’s pretty signifi cant.”
With such a passion for the park, it is no wonder the Boy Scout wanted to give back. The Troop 642 Life Scout is working on attaining his Eagle award, a rank that requires him to first complete a service project.
Seeing that the Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District was in need of a scout to plant trees at Corriganville—the district annually assigns out projects to save the district money but also provide scouts with service opportunities—Collin eagerly took on the task.
“This is right up his alley because he loves the outdoors,” Collin’s mom Darci Chamberlain said. “This (project) really spoke to Collin because he loves this area.”
Collin has been planning, organizing and fundraising— soliciting both cash and in-kind donations—for his project since October. This past weekend he got out to Corriganville to complete the work.
About 25 volunteers, many of them fellow scouts, arrived early Saturday morning to plant 12 platanus acerifolia bloodgood sycamore trees and install a bubbler irrigation system while Collin supervised the work.
The sycamore trees were planted in an open space near the Camp Rotary covered picnic area and amphitheater.
“This (park) is used almost every single weekend by the Boy Scouts . . . for camping and doing fun activities,” Collin said, adding that locals frequent the park during the week, too. “Adding more trees adds to the feel of it . . . I just think it will make it a better place.”
Troop 642 Committee Chair Paul Witman, who was volunteering on site Saturday, agreed, saying the project provides extra tree cover in a place that was relatively barren.
“From the point of view of people coming to hang out at the park, it’s a really nice addition,” he said. “And these trees will get big and they’ll provide huge amounts of shade for this area. It’s going to be a nice shady area to camp.”
Witman, who has worked with other scouts on their Eagle projects, said Collin’s project is larger than most.
“You’ve got ditching to do, you’ve got a bunch of holes to dig, there’s some technical details to it,” he said. “And it’s a government agency. They’re not difficult to deal with but they’ve got a certain set of rules and guidelines you really have to follow.”
On top of that, Darci said that during the planning process her son had to stick to a budget and contact people to secure the trees and materials, at a discount or for free.
Though she was admittedly a little nervous for Collin to take on such a big project, Darci said she was “extremely proud” to watch months of work come to fruition on Saturday—particu- larly because Collin is typically a shy kid.
“My son struggles with attention deficit disorder and he has trouble sometimes asking for help,” she said.
“But he has really matured going through this project and despite his learning disability he has really grown . . . And even with him being so shy, he’s done wonderfully. I know my husband and I are very proud of him. It’s amazing.”
Witman said he, too, has seen Collin come out of his shell.
“Collin is a great kid. He was kind of quiet when he came in (to the troop) and this has really forced him to go outside his boundaries and take on a more active and physical leadership role,” he said.
Collin still has a few badges to complete before he will officially earn Boy Scouting’s highest rank, but through his project he has already learned what being an Eagle is all about.
“It’s about being a leader and doing your best in everything,” Collin said, adding that the same could be said about the entire Boy Scout program. “It teaches you so many skills in life.”
Darci agreed, saying scouting has instilled in her son a sense of responsibility, the importance of being honest and maintaining high moral character.
“Scouts is such a wonderful way for a boy to become a young man,” Darci said.