Gateway: Living

Eagle Scout project brings shelter to dog park

GHHS junior and Life Scout Ben Lind works on overhead framing.
GHHS junior and Life Scout Ben Lind works on overhead framing. Special to the Gateway

On learning that Gig Harbor High junior Joel Thomson would be building his Eagle Scout project, a picnic table shelter at the Rotary Bark Park on Bujacich Road, I found Joel’s crew of 10 fellow scouts, friends and family including Louie, the dog “supervisor,” all hard at work.

WOW! What a picnic shelter!

Thomson, a scout since he was 7, planned and led work on the shelter.

“I wanted my Eagle project to benefit something I was passionate about and the public,” he said. “The shelter was the perfect option. It will help fellow dog owners and be a place I can see and feel pride in. I often go to the park with my dogs and know the trails inside out. To give back to a park I love felt great. Troop 217, (sponsored by St. Johns Episcopal Church in Gig Harbor), family and friends gave hours to help me. This project was a great leadership and teamwork opportunity for me.”

“As a member of Joel’s scout troop as well as a close friend,” said Star Scout Solomon Smidt, “it was an honor to help in the construction of this shelter, and I am glad that it will be put to good use by the community.”

“I was glad to lend a hand helping Joel achieve the rank of Eagle Scout,” GHHS friend Sam Benner said. “I live next to the woods in which he built his shelter, so I walked tools and water in. I was impressed with how well planned the construction was and how prepared we were with tools and equipment. I helped lift heavy wooden beams, saw boards, and cut back brush. Joel’s leadership kept us on the ball — he’ll make a great Eagle Scout.”

James Januch said, “Joel and I have been involved in the same scout troop many years. He was very helpful to me on my Eagle Scout project, and I wanted to assist him with his. I helped moving materials to the work site and with the construction of the shelter. Joel made sure everyone had a job to do and that they were being productive. He’s a good involved scout who truly deserves his Eagle.”

His mother, Marilyn Thompson, said, “Joel spent many hours planning and preparing and working closely with Eric Guenther of PenMet parks. He relied on the building skills of his grandfather, Mike Jutila, and his future brother-in-law, Chris Powers, to help lead the crew through the construction.”

Joel’s father, Matt, who became an Eagle Scout 36 years ago in Colville, has also been a huge support to Joel as he has grown through scouting.

“Anyone looking to build a shelter should know we used Diamond Piers, an invention of a local company, Pin Foundations,” Thomson said. “They are a quick easy way to anchor your shelter to the ground. By inserting the concrete piers and jackhammering in steel rods to keep them in place, you’re done in an hour.”

Rick Gagliano provided a generous donation of Diamond Piers used in the project and loaned the team a jackhammer, the key to the installation, Thomson added.

The shelter is at the Rotary Bark Park, 10222 Bujacich Rd NW, Gig Harbor. Parking is at the fire station, also at the address. Have a look. You’ll be pleasantly surprised!

Hugh McMillan is a longtime freelance writer for the Gateway. He can be reached at