Kaiserslautern, Germany —
On an overcast Saturday, a young Boy Scout steps out in front of his fellow scouts and volunteers to lead. Today he would lead his fellow scouts during his Eagle Scout Project, the culmination of his knowledge and experience as a scout. One final task in order to earn the highest rank a Boy Scout can earn, Eagle Scout.
Cayson Merta began scouting in 2013 at the age of six, and now at 12 years old, he is completing his Eagle Scout Project of planting 33 new trees on Panzer Kaserne.
It all started back in 2013 with a Boy Scout rain gutter regatta race for Cayson. Designing and decorating a boat of his very own to race against friends. He lined up alongside 10-feet of gutter filled with water and blew against the sail, one breath at a time, until finally reaching the finish. From that moment, Cayson was hooked on Scouting. He joined Cub Scouts shortly after completing his first race. He wanted to be a scout like his friends and family.
“My dad was an Eagle Scout and my friends were all scouts and said it was really fun,” Cayson said. “So I joined and I really like it.”
After nearly seven years of dedication to scouting, he is close to becoming an Eagle Scout. Cayson decided for his Eagle Scout project that he would help plant 33 new trees for the 21st Theater Sustainment Command on Panzer Kaserne. In order to complete the project, he had to write up a proposal, develop a project plan, fund-raise to support the project, and submit a project report. In addition, he also had to write a letter to Maj. Gen. Chris Mohan, 21st TSC commanding general, in order to obtain permission to carry out his project on Panzer.
“My son, Cayson, has been involved in every step of the process of planting these trees,” David Merta said. “He even went to the nursery to help select trees and learn about the different types of trees that will be planted.”
A challenge that Cayson faced during his project was COVID-19 restrictions. With the new restrictions and rules, he had to adjust plans to ensure the safety of his fellow scouts and volunteers. Volunteers were limited to fellow scouts and their families, who coordinated to dig holes for the trees in advance. This did not stop Cayson from making sure his project was completed.
“We had five families help plant trees today, and the fire department helped us water the trees after we planted them,” Cayson said. “We planted 33 trees across post today.”
Since Cayson has been involved in scouting he has earned over 35 merit badges, which is 14 more than is required for Eagle Scout and a quarter of all merit badges available in Boy Scouts. One of his favorite badges he earned was Wilderness Survival.
“My favorite merit badge is First Aid and my second is Wilderness Survival,” Cayson said. “I really liked Wilderness Survival, I did that one four times.”
With the project complete, Cayson has only a few requirements left to achieve something only three percent of Boy Scouts achieve: Eagle Scout. His father earned his Eagle Scout rank and Cayson is well on his way to completing his. His father not only has been encouraging his son, but also his daughter in scouting as well.
“Scouting has enriched mine and my son’s lives by allowing us to spend time together outdoors,” David said. “But also in 2019, Boy Scouts was opened up to girls and now I have the opportunity to spend time in the outdoors with my daughter, which I would normally not have the opportunity to do. So scouting has brought my family together with something we all love to do.”