Boy Scout, Marines repaint preschool
On a hot, sunny Saturday, children’s laughter intermingled with the sound of paint chipping and hoses spraying.
Gid A. Merz, a 14-year-old Life Scout with Boy Scout Troop 102, based out of Kadena Air Base, along with Marines and sailors of Camp Hansen volunteered to clean and repaint Sugi Noko Preschool in Kin Town June 1 as part of his Eagle Scout service project.
The project is an opportunity for a Life Scout to demonstrate leadership qualities while executing a task for the benefit of the community, according to Merz.
This is an important step in attaining the next rank of Eagle Scout.
Merz organized the event with help from Takayuki Kayo, the community relations specialist on Camp Hansen.
“I wanted to do something big for our community, but I didn’t want to just do something on base,” said Merz. “I wanted to do something off base, so that it would have a positive effect and strengthen our relationship with the community.”
Merz was soon introduced to the school principal, according to Kayo. Seeing the condition of the school’s exterior inspired Merz to choose this venue for his project.
“It’s very exciting to see the young people from military families take interest in the local community,” said Kayo. “It shows that everyone can have a hand in making Okinawa their home.”
Marines and sailors were eager to help Merz fulfill his project, according to Sgt. Nathan R. Campbell, an electronic maintenance technician with 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force.
“When I heard about this service project, I wanted to be a part of it,” said Campbell. “It’s important to do things like this to demonstrate our care for the community.”
The USO donated the supplies for the volunteers to use to ensure that the project was done at no cost to the school, according to Merz.
Merz and the service members worked together to remove rust and plaster from the front of the building before painting the railings and walls.
“It was great that Merz and the Marines are doing a project to improve our facilities,” said Katsutoshi Higa, the preschool’s principal. “They supplied everything needed for the project, and we are so grateful.”
Higa and the service members agreed this is only the beginning of a long-lasting relationship with local schools.
With the help of the Marines and sailors, the school children can be introduced to a different culture and learn about U.S. service members, according to Higa.
While the main goal of the project was to help the school, Merz believes that his service project was a chance to showcase the leadership abilities required of an Eagle Scout.
“The Boy Scouts of America teach strong moral values to young men across the globe,” said Merz. “It strengthens bonds and friendships. I think the most important thing that the Boy Scouts teach you is leadership. I hope this project demonstrates that leadership, but more importantly I hope it helped out the kids.”