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  • (L-R) Rev. Jim Proffitt and Al Jones lauded Ben Oursler for his leadership skills after he created a fire pit area with comfortable bench seating for at least 40 people at St. John the Evangelist.
    Photo by Judy Tacyn
    (L-R) Rev. Jim Proffitt and Al Jones lauded Ben Oursler for his leadership skills after he created a fire pit area with comfortable bench seating for at least 40 people at St. John the Evangelist.

Ben Oursler Earns Eagle Rank While Giving Back To Faith Community

Judy Tacyn
Judy Tacyn's picture
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September 7, 2017

When deciding on a single Eagle Scout project that will leave a lasting impact, it may seem as if adolescents have many options to consider. But for Ben Oursler of Troop 450, located at St. John the Evangelist Church, his list never included more than one location. A lifelong parishioner of St. John’s, Oursler knew he wanted to give back to his faith community.

“St. John’s was the only place I wanted to complete my Eagle Scout project,” said Oursler. “I wanted to give back to the church for all that it has provided to me and my family for many, many years.”

Oursler met with senior leaders of his troop and St. John’s to come up with a project that would benefit the church members and staff, St. John the Evangelist School and faith formation groups.

“I really wanted to transform an underutilized area on the property,” said Oursler. “I saw the space as an opportunity to create an outdoor classroom for the school, a place for parish youth to gather, or simply a serene spot for anyone who wanted to be alone with their thoughts or in prayer.”

His final idea was to create a fire pit area complete with comfortable bench seating for at least 40 people. Oursler presented his proposal before the parish council, which included Al Jones, director of parish operations, in the summer of 2016.

“Maintaining and enhancing a vibrant faith community and school means that we always have improvement objectives and priority projects,” said Jones. “When talented and motivated youth like Ben bring forth a thoughtful proposal and a carefully articulated project plan to improve our campus, they allow my staff to complete other urgent needs.”

Working with assistant scoutmaster Richard Guba, Oursler was required to complete a detailed project plan, which had to be approved by the Boys Scouts of America.

The rigorous planning documentation, along with budgeting and project management, demonstrates leadership skills required to achieve the Eagle rank.

“Ben has many strong qualities. He is very organized and is a stickler for details,” said Guba. “He holds those in the troop accountable for their actions and is punctual and precise. Ben also exhibits infectious enthusiasm that the younger scouts pick up on.”

Rev. Jim Proffitt also lauded Oursler’s leadership skills. “Ben has the unique ability to not only lead from the front,” said Proffitt, “but he also leads from behind. He serves as a mentor to the younger scouts and altar servers, and instinctively knows when to let them step out in front and lead.”

Spencer Woodbury and Jack Cohen are both entering ninth grade and assisted on Oursler’s project.

“There is a big process to even have your project approved,” noted Woodbury. “Planning takes time and money management, as well as determining if the project helps the community.” While Woodbury hasn’t yet decided on what he’ll tackle when he moves toward his Eagle rank, he said, “I now have some new ideas of where in the community help is needed.”

The same is true for Cohen. “Helping Ben achieve his Eagle ranked showed me just how much planning it takes to complete the project,” said Cohen, who also serves on the altar with Oursler. “I really enjoyed building something that the troop, the school and church will be able to use and have fun with.” Cohen added, “It was important for me to help Ben because he’s [been an important role model] for me through scouts and by being a sacristan.”

Oursler served as senior patrol leader for Troop 450 and was the crew leader on the 2015 expedition to the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. At Philmont, Oursler led the nine-member crew of Troop 450 scouts and adult leaders on an 80-mile trek through the desert mountains. Highlights of the trek included climbing Mount Baldy at over 12,400 feet and reaching the summit of the Tooth of Time Mountain at sunrise. “Ben Oursler represents what is great about boyhood leadership, growth and the scouting program,” said Guba.

Oursler is a senior at Mount St. Joseph High School, where he has competed on the water polo and swim teams. He’s the son of Mark and Susan Oursler of Severna Park. He is discerning his college options with his sights on Pennsylvania State University, Catholic University and University of Maryland College Park.

According the Boy Scouts of America, only 5 percent of scouts earn the ultimate rank of Eagle, which amounts to just more than 15,000 scouts annually. Oursler will receive the coveted Eagle Rank at a Court of Honor ceremony later this fall.

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