Scout’s Eagle project has far reach

Jul. 19, 2013 @ 04:44 PM

Shane Gamble, a Boy Scout in Hillsborough’s Troop 821, says he’s the kind of person who corrects his friends’ spelling and urges them to use words stronger than “cool.”
This summer, Gamble is combining his appreciation for education with the leadership skills he’s learned in Boy Scouts by holding a book drive to earn his Eagle Scout rank.
Gamble, whose favorite book is George Orwell’s “1984,” will be collecting books Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. outside the Walmart Supercenter in Hillsborough, and on upcoming Saturdays at different locations until mid-August.
Gamble’s goal is 1,500 books. Last Saturday, he collected 1,055.
The 17-year-old Cedar Ridge High senior said he chose to do a book drive because he knows illiteracy is a big problem around the world.
But this service project, he said, differs from many other Scouts’ projects, which often involve manual labor.
“I thought, well, that really isn’t me,” Gamble said. “… I want to do something that makes a lasting impression not just to an individual thing, like a bridge, but to the community, that will have a lasting effect on a wider basis.”
Gamble is gathering the books for Worldwide Book Drive, a business that both recycles books and donates them to communities — nationally and internationally — that need them.
“This is the first Eagle project I have been involved in that has an international reach,” said Troop 821 Scoutmaster Marcus Wooton, adding that some of his troop’s other Eagle projects have included local infrastructure-related or cleanup ventures. 
Gamble said he’s earning his Eagle Scout for his father, who was in Boy Scouts but only ever reached his Life Scout, the rank before Eagle Scout.
“As my Scout leaders like to put it: Perfume and car fumes usually distract most teenagers,” Gamble said. “So (my father) was never able to get that, and for the rest of his life, it always bothered him that he was never able to.”
Gamble said his father used to take him to Cub Scouts meetings when he was younger, but when Gamble was 5 years old, his father died in an automobile wreck. For a few years after his death, Gamble said, he didn’t like associating himself with the fun things he had done with his father.
But at 11 years old, Gamble rejoined the Boy Scouts, and although he hasn’t always agreed with people in the organization, he said he always knew he wanted to earn his Eagle rank, calling Boy Scouts “one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life.”
“There were times whenever I kind of doubted my involvement with Boy Scouts and said, well, I don’t really agree with some of the ideologies of the people here, but I know that for myself and for my father, that I’m going to do this,” Gamble said.
At Cedar Ridge High School, Gamble is president of the Model United Nations Club and of the Gay-Straight Alliance. Last year, he wore his Boy Scouts uniform while marching in Durham’s Pride Parade.
Aside from the book drive, Gamble has been working at a restaurant and volunteering at the Orange County Animal Shelter this summer.
Gamble said he wants to go into the education field when he’s older, either as a professor or high school teacher. He isn’t sure where he plans to attend college, but he likes the idea of going to UNC-Chapel Hill.
Because of the experiences he’s had, he said he definitely wants his children to be in Boy Scouts.
“Whenever I was having trouble in school academically and socially … (the Boy Scouts) was a retreat that I sought,” Gamble said.
After the book drive ends in mid-August, Gamble and an adult from his troop will use the troop’s trailer to drive all the books down to a Worldwide Book Drive location in Atlanta.
Gamble still has a few merit badges to finish earning. To become an Eagle Scout, he said, all of his work must be finished by Sept. 17, when he turns 18.
If you’d like to donate books, a drop-off site at Postal Connections in Hillsborough will be open, during business hours, until Aug. 16. Check to see where Gamble will be collecting on various Saturdays until mid-August.