Schmidt gaga ball

Litchfield Scout Levi Schmidt, back right, and other Boy Scouts stand next to the gaga ball pit they built at Oak Heights Covenant Church in Hutchinson as part of Schmidt’s Eagle Scout project.

Litchfield teen Levi Schmidt reached the pinnacle of Scouting as he became an Eagle Scout during a ceremony April 18 at First Evangelical Lutheran Church of Litchfield.

One of the final requirements for reaching Eagle Scout is a community service project, with a focus on the Eagle Scout candidate planning, overseeing and executing the work, which his fellow Scouts perform. Schmidt’s project was the creation of a new gaga ball pit for Oak Heights Covenant Church in Hutchinson, which he and his family attend.

For the uninitiated, gaga ball is similar to dodgeball, played in an octagon “pit” with a sand floor. The pit for Oak Heights Covenant, Schmidt said, was an improvement project to replace an older pit.

Construction, even with assistance from a Bobcat to scrape the topsoil and auger post holes, was a labor intensive project involving several Boy Scouts and other assistants working six hours on a Saturday.

“Probably the hardest part of that was moving the four cubic yards of sand with two wheelbarrows,” Schmidt said with a smile. “The whole troop helped. It’s intended as a leadership experience. It went pretty well.”

Schmidt’s achievement, while certainly a moment to celebrate — he is among the first Litchfield Boy Scouts to earn the Eagle Scout rank since 2014 — seemed to take a back seat to the journey. Reaching the organization’s highest rank came after nearly seven years of participation in meetings, camping trips and service projects that helped shape him, not just as a Boy Scout but as a person, he said.

Now a senior at Litchfield High School, Schmidt easily recalled multiple meaningful experiences throughout Boy Scouts. He with his friends — fellow Litchfield Eagle Scouts Sam Dougherty and Riley Defries — shared stories of so-called high adventure trips and of summer stays at Many Point Scout Camp in northern Minnesota.

Those trips to Many Point, which the trio made together for six consecutive years, helped them advance through Boy Scout ranks. But they all say that earning merits badges — a key to advancement — and moving up in rank wasn’t ever the goal of the Boy Scout experience. It was a side benefit.

“I feel like a lot of these merit badges kind of just fell into place as we went along,” Schmidt said. “Whether we had specific ones that we needed to get — there’s 21 that are required for Eagle — I feel like we did them because they were our interests. So it didn’t feel like a chore to necessarily be in Boy Scouts and do stuff. We just had fun. Every summer, we’d pick one or two that we needed and work on them together, and that was fun. I think we kind of helped each other along a lot.”