Local Scout building outdoor classroom in Hampton

By Jason A. Smith
Times Correspondent

Fifteen-year-old Micah Dameron of Hampton wants to make a positive impact on the world.

He appears to be on his way toward doing just that, thanks to his latest service project for the Boy Scouts of America.

Aspiring Eagle Scout Micah Dameron (center) supervised as fellow Boy Scout Benjamin Bordeaux helped assemble a table for an outdoor classroom at Rocky Creek Elementary School. They were joined by (from left) Micah’s father Ron Dameron and Marvin Brown. Photo by Jason A. Smith

Dameron is building an outdoor classroom in the woods at Rocky Creek Elementary School in Hampton. The endeavor is one of the last steps to qualify as an Eagle Scout with Boy Scout Troop No. 365 in the Flint River Council’s Tussahaw District.

Dameron, a rising sophomore at Hampton High School, is currently a Life Scout in his troop. He and a team of volunteers worked on the project Saturday -- assembling benches for about 45 students, a table and a white board for the outdoor classroom.

The teenager began preparing for the project several months ago. He said a personal connection to the school was a factor in that process.

“I decided to do it at Rocky Creek because my mom actually works here,” said Dameron. “She teaches first grade.”

Dameron secured monetary donations, services and supplies from local businesses, family members and friends. Creating a classroom in the woods, he said, took a lot of work.

“I had to get one of my friends to come out here and bushhog this whole area,” said Dameron while standing amid benches and other items built for the makeshift classroom. “This was all, like, shrubbery and woods. So he had to come out with his bushhog, and he cleared out all the shrubbery and everything, and cut down some semi-large trees. Then we had someone else come out and stump-grind it a little bit. So, it took out some of the small stumps that were left from the trees and the shrubbery and all that. That helped tremendously.”

Dameron emphasized that although the classroom is outside, it will be covered to protect it from the elements.

“It should protect it, almost 100 percent, from the weather,” he said. “It’ll keep the rain off of it. The only thing I can’t really control is how much heat it gets in there. But, it’ll protect it from the majority of the weather, like anything falling on it.”

Dameron has been involved in scouting since he was 8. As an 11-year-old Cub Scout, he earned the Arrow of Light -- the highest award available at that level.

He said he is grateful for everything he has learned by being involved in the program.

“It teaches lots of good life lessons,” said Dameron. “Being a Boy Scout and going through all the stuff that they do – all of the merit badges – they teach different aspects of life. They have certain merit badges like citizenship in the nation, in the world, in the community, and you’re learning how to participate in the community and how to give back to the community, but also progressing the community. It’s all about working as a team together and working with your community.”

His mother, Shelly Dameron, was there to cheer her son on as he worked on the outdoor classroom. She noted that her baby boy is not the only member of their family to excel in scouting.

“He has four older brothers who also reached the rank of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouting program,” she said. “So, Micah has been determined to follow in their footsteps.”

Shelly Dameron added that she “can guarantee” that she will be using her son’s outdoor classroom with her students.

Rocky Creek Elementary Principal, Jay Fowler, is among the volunteers assisting with Micah Dameron’s project. Fowler said when the aspiring Eagle Scout approached him about creating an outdoor classroom, he eagerly obliged.

“I’ve always wanted an outdoor classroom, ever since we opened the school eight years ago, just so there’d be another place where teachers could go to teach lessons about nature, or even just anything – just a different scenario for kids to not be cooped up in the building all day,” said Fowler.

The principal added that although he’s normally in charge when school is in session, he and his fellow volunteers were focused on doing whatever Micah Dameron told him to do. Fowler joked that he is thankful for Micah Dameron’s willingness to spearhead the effort, for one important reason.

“It means a lot to me that we didn’t have to pay anything for it,” said Fowler with a laugh. “Budgets are tight, so that’s nice.”

Micah Dameron is thankful for the assistance of friends, fellow scouts and others in completing his service project. He has enjoyed watching his dream of an outdoor classroom come to fruition at Rocky Creek Elementary.

“It’s been a great project,” he said. “I’ve loved every bit of it.”