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Bailey Meyers leans against one of his “Before I Die” boards on the New Haven Green as people write down their goals. (Photo courtesy of Dana Schneider )
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While many Eagle Scout projects tend to lean toward construction, one Guilford scout is using his project to make people think. Bailey Meyers, Life Scout from Boy Scouts of America Troop 474, has created four “Before I Die” boards, boards he hopes help people reflect on their goals and choices.
The boards are currently on display at the International Festival of Arts and Ideas, which runs through June 25 on the New Haven Green. Meyers, 15, said he was pleased to be able to do something unique for his Eagle Scout project.
“I was going through all the normal ideas people have like building a bridge in the woods, building a flag pole, painting a barn, and then I was thinking more deeply about it and I said, ‘OK, what is something that actually means something to me?’” he said. “I have always been interested in public art and interactive things rather than having something static like a bridge in the woods.”
His boards are anything but static. Passersby on the Green are encouraged to come up and write their “before I die” goal on the board, according to Meyers.
“People come by and they sort of think about it for a moment and then they write their thoughts,” he said. “I did go around and I asked a few people questions like what they thought about it and even before I asked, some people turned to me and said, ‘This is a really cool project, this is really making me think’ and I hadn’t even told them that I had been the creator.”
The positive response from the community is a nice reward for Meyers, who said it took a lot of work to get this project off the ground.
“It took me a really long time to get the project approved by council and my troop,” he said. “I am really one of the first people in the area of Connecticut to do a project that’s not construction because the main impact of this project is psychological. It makes people think rather than just supplying them a way to get from point A to point B.”
Eagle Scout is the highest rank a person can achieve in Boy Scouts. The Eagle Scout project is a significant undertaking, so Meyers said he had some guidance from his Eagle Coach Roy Slate throughout the process.
“I think it is a very cool project,” said Slate, adding that it reflects Meyer’s desire to reach out and help people. “I know that he has done a lot of research on it—it is not the typical Boy Scout project, but he is also not the typical Boy Scout. This fits him perfectly and I am very proud of him.”
Meyers has been out on the New Haven Green the past two weekends and says he plans to donate the boards to the Arts & Ideas festival. Meyers said a common theme on his boards is people writing, “before I die I want to change the world.”
“I think a lot of time people are not thinking about their main goals in life, rather just moving through and thinking about the short term,” he said. “This is to help them reevaluate where they are going.”
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