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Beavercreek student leads project to rebuild Sun Watch stockade

Mason Kennedy spent a weekend leading dozens of Boy Scouts and other volunteers to rebuild the stockade at SunWatch Indian Village as part of his push to earn the rank of Eagle Scout.

The Beavercreek sophomore and member of Troop 68 is continuing a family tradition: his father Steve Kennedy and his two uncles are all Eagle Scouts.

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To rebuild the roughly 300-foot long stockade that serves as a barrier surrounding part of the village, Mason and his volunteers harvested willow boughs around a pond at the Germantown MetroPark and transported them to the village site off West River Road in Dayton.

The volunteers then had to work the bendable green boughs in between the posts that make up the stockade, a skill known as waddling, before the tree limbs dried out.

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Bill Kennedy, Mason Kennedy’s uncle and also an Eagle Scout, works to preserve SunWatch Indian Village, which is operated by the Dayton Society of Natural History, a nonprofit organization operating three local museums.

Bill Kennedy said these are tough times for nonprofit organizations, meaning heavy reliance on volunteers and support from the community.

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“This was a phenomenal contribution of labor but also planning,” Bill Kennedy said. “It provided something for the public that we could not have afforded to do. The labor that Mason and Troop 68 put into this was very efficient … they were able to do in a day and a half what would probably have taken at least a week with paid staff and saved the museum thousands of dollars that we don’t have to spend.”

SunWatch Indian Village is made entirely of perishable materials. The thatched-roof huts, stockade and other features over time require repairs.

Bill Kennedy said his organization is in the process of rebuilding the village, and they can now put rebuilding the stockade off the to-do list.

In addition to the Boy Scouts, Mason Kennedy’s other passion is swimming. He is a member of the Dayton Raiders Swim Club. He swims and dives for Beavercreek High School.

Mason Kennedy said he hopes his project helps the student groups who visit the site better understand the American Indians who once populated Southwest Ohio and the Miami Valley.

“There are a lot of younger children who come to this facility to be educated about what native Americans did as part of school projects as part of class field trips. I wanted them to be able to understand the full extent as to what the native Americans did and built,” he said.

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Mason Kennedy said the most challenging aspect was harvesting all the willow boughs and getting them transported to the site.

“I had to keep people organized. I had to make sure everybody was doing the correct job and most efficiently,” he said.

Among the merit badges pinned to Kennedy’s Boy Scouts uniform are for life-saving, camping, physical fitness, canoeing, kayaking, swimming and sculpture.

Mason Kennedy’s father Steve is Troop 68’s scoutmaster. Steve Kennedy said the Eagle Scout project is “the culmination of years of work on behalf of the scout,” and his son will be the fifth scout in the troop to earn the honor in a year.

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