If you’ve been to La Vernia City Park recently, you might have noticed two interesting octagonal structures near the footpath behind the football stands and wondered what those were.
Wonder no more. These are Gaga ball pits, and they’re a gift from a local Eagle Scout.
What is the Gaga ball, and why did he install the pits? Continue reading!
Meet 14-year-old Duane Pfeiffer. The six-year-old son of Brie Pfeiffer-Smith and Nathan Smith, and big brother to Leilani, is a Boy Scout who just attained his Eagle Scout rank; he belongs to the local scout troop 118.
Duane, currently homeschooled through the University of Texas at Austin’s online high school, started at Cub Scouts when he was a freshman; he became a scout in fifth grade at the age of 10. He earned his Eagle Scout badge on March 7 – a day before his fourth year as a Boy Scout – at the age of 14 years, 9 months and a few days. According to scouting.com, only 8% of Scouts achieve the rank of Eagle Scout.
Project Eagle Scout
To earn the Eagle Scout badge, Duane had to complete a community service project. His project was to install two ball pools or Gaga arenas in the municipal park of La Vernia. The Gaga ball is described as a type of low impact dodgeball where players toss the ball towards each other, but points can only be scored when the ball hits the opponent below the knees. Four balls to play Gaga ball can be signed at the town hall of La Vernia.
On March 21, La Vernia News saw the plaque attached to the wall of the Gaga pit. The plaque names the sponsors who helped Duane reach his monetary goal. He has also raised money for wood and concrete by selling paracord creations he makes; these include bosun’s lanyards, rings, bracelets, rifle slings, a scarf for his father’s weedkiller, and a hammock for his uncle. He has received commissions from all over the United States for his paracord designs.
Duane continues to fundraise for another project he plans to donate to the city park – a pool court, which looks like a giant pool table on the ground, where players hit balls into pockets.
Not only is this young man geared towards community service, but he is also very goal-oriented. Duane aims to earn what he calls “the Trifecta” – Eagle Scout, Summit in Venture Scouts, and Quartermaster in Sea Scouts. So far, Duane has earned 67 merit badges; he has won 23 in the last six months alone! This scout still has 3 and a half years to earn more badges.
Duane aims to achieve the rank of Quartermaster in the Sea Scouts for his “Trifecta”.
But what is a Sea Scout?
For more than a century, “Sea Scouting has promoted better citizenship and improved the nautical skills of members through the teaching and practice of boating safety, nautical skills, outdoor experiences, social, service and knowledge of our maritime heritage,” according to seascout.org.
Less than 1% of Sea Scouts achieve the rank of Quartermaster.
Why Sea Scouts, you might ask? Duane wants to be a saturation diver. He loves scuba diving and plans to get a master diver certification.
“Saturation divers are underwater engineers,” Duane explained. “They are the ones who repair the oil rigs. They do construction and engineering.
Duane has earned a welding badge as part of his Boy Scout badge collection. His parents are supportive of his goals, but also want him to have a backup plan. He chose petroleum engineering and plans to attend the Colorado School of Mines when he graduates from high school in 2025. After graduating from college, Duane plans to move to Norway and attend a school specializing in marine commercial diving and saturation diving training.
Dive deeper, go higher
For such a young man, Duane has very specific goals and a bit of confidence and determination.
His mother, Brie, is retired from the US Army; her father is still serving in the army. They are very supportive of his efforts, and perhaps he learned his work ethic from both of them.
The word “can’t” does not exist in this young man’s vocabulary. His favorite quote is a song recorded by Paul Brandt: “Don’t tell me the sky’s the limit when there’s footprints on the moon.”
The Venture Scouts program focuses on four main areas known as the ALPS model, according to www.scouting.org:
• Adventure — Mentoring, leading and participating in team-led adventures.
•Leadership — Ongoing leadership development through training, mentoring and hands-on leadership.
• Personal Growth – Setting goals to support personal growth.
•Service — Leading and participating in community service.