Boy Scout builds game arena for Raleigh’s Place kids

Published 12:14 pm Friday, February 24, 2017


Chilton County High School student Jadon Downs built a gaga ball pit for Raleigh’s Place.

Downs has achieved the rank of Life Scout in his Boy Scout troop, but before he can achieve the highest rank of Eagle Scout, he has to complete a project that benefits the community.

“I’ve known Raleigh’s Place through SGA at school,” Downs said. “They do summer camps here … they already had [a gaga pit] that they pieced together over last summer… I gave them something a little more permanent.”

Downs built an octagonal gaga pit with 8-foot sides and a concrete floor. The permanent structure facilitates a type of dodgeball that is played by dribbling a ball around the arena and hitting opponents below the waist. Once a player is hit, they have to leave the arena.

The walls are solid and the concrete provides a level playing field and an optimally bouncy surface for the ball. Downs built low points on opposite sides for quick exit from the pit, and added mulch around the sides and benches for spectators.

The scout started working on his project in September 2016 by generating ideas and doing paperwork. He sought donations during October and early November and started by pouring the concrete in December.

Downs presented the project to local businesses to get the materials donated. He said they were glad to help when he approached them.

“Everywhere I went they said, ‘oh, it’s for Eagle Scout? Yeah, we’ll give you that,’” Downs said. “I didn’t pay a dime on this.”

Downs thanked Russell’s Do it Center for the wood, Acme for the hardware and Sandra’s Nursery for the mulch. The steel brackets were made by Lewis Machine, and Ebsco Sign Group painted them. Shelby Concrete donated the concrete and Calloway Concrete donated the labor to install it. Downs thanked all the friends and family who helped him for their efforts.

Downs finished the project on Feb.4 with a total of 137 man-hours invested by himself and the volunteers who donated their time and labor.

“I learned [during this project] that everything is going to give you troubles, but don’t give up, and keep going,” Downs said.

Downs is waiting until a board can review his qualifications and decide if he will achieve the rank of Eagle Scout.