By Jane Ross, October 2015
There is a corner in Redding Ridge, at the intersection of Cross Highway and Route 58, that has long been celebrated as Karraker’s Field, from the days when young riders assembled there for local horse shows to the open fields now preserved by the Karraker family’s gift to the Redding Land Trust. When Cooper LeBlanc, a member of Redding’s Boy Scout’s Troop 15, was searching for a needed community project to tackle in order to earn Scouting’s top badge of merit - Eagle Scout - he spotted a rotting red barn covered in weeds in the historic field. Cooper knew then that he had found his mission – a worthy community project and a chance to demonstrate his leadership skills.
Lining up eight fellow Scouts to be his volunteer workers - Noah Finchler, Conner Stackpole, Alex Czerkawski, Stephen Zigmond, Trevor Furrer, Wyatt Hoover, Chris Walker and Miles Martin – he also enlisted the help of his father Michael and Noah’s father Evan. Working over two weekends, they undertook to remove all the years of the barn’s neglect, The Scouts removed rotted logs, fence board and other debris, cut back vines and weeds, shored up the structure, replacing windows, floor boards and a door. The final weekend was a “painting party” when the Scouts almost ran out of paint but were able to cover the whole barn outside in the proper tone of the original red.
The cost of the project was made possible by donations from Hugh Karraker, Ring’s End in Wilton, the Redding Land Trust and, of course, the hard work and commitment of Redding’s Scouts under the leadership of Cooper.
Cooper, 16, who is a student at Connecticut’s Kent School, said of the project, "It remains a constant reminder to me how scouting has taught me leadership and how much we can improve our community with small volunteer efforts.”