Nathan Arno seeks Eagle Scout rank 2009.09.30

Written by David Green.


One day when Kathy Arno and her son, Nathan, were driving past Morenci’s Oak Grove Cemetery, she noticed the sorry condition of the wrought iron fence along the front of the property.nathan.arno.jpg

Over the years, paint had chipped off and left the once-beautiful fence in need of attention.

“‘Oh my gosh,’ I said to Nathan. There it is—your Eagle Scout project.’”

“Yeah!” Nathan answered. He was enthused.

In order to earn the Eagle Scout badge, a Boy Scout must organize a community service project, and in Nathan’s case—a young man with Down Syndrome—his mother would play a large part in the effort.

“Nathan understands a lot,” Kathy said. “As far as organization goes, it’s my job to lay it out in front of him. I read it off to him and he signs it off.”

The Boy Scout council office in Ann Arbor is giving Nathan some leeway due to his special needs, but he still has plenty of work to do.

“They haven’t let him off the hook much,” Kathy said. “He still needs to earn five Merit Badges.”

Eagle Scout candidates are required to earn a minimum of 21 Merit Badges, including 12 required badges. When Nathan completes work on the five remaining mandatory badges, he’ll have a total of 30.

He was recently inducted into the Order of the Arrow—an honorary Scouting rank—and Kathy said he made it through the challenge without any problems.

He and his father, Bob Arno, slept out under the stars and then got up to complete kitchen duties at the Scout camp.

Nathan has been a Scout since he was seven years old when he joined the Tiger Cubs. It was a natural choice considering Bob’s heavy involvement in the Scouting organization for so many years.

“It’s been a wonderful program for Nathan,” said his mother. “The other boys have really taken him under their wings. He’s learned a lot from them and they’ve learned a lot from him.”

They were willing to provide some time and muscle when it came to the cemetery project and they met Saturday morning to scrape paint in preparation for the painters.

They weren’t the first ones. Kathy, herself, spent hours on the job and volunteers from the Gus Harrison facility in Adrian also scraped a lot of fence.

On work day Saturday, members of the high school Volunteer Club showed up to paint and they were joined by a couple of Nathan’s friends from when he attended school through the LISD.

His teacher from the Sylvan Learning Center in Adrian also came Saturday to volunteer, along with Jon and Nancy Gandee. Materials were provided by the City of Morenci.

A lot was accomplished, but a lot remains yet to finish.

“There’s a long way to go, but I’ve got more people lined up to work,” Kathy said, “and the Volunteer Club members said they would be back.”

Jack Sampson intends to enlist some help from Legion members.

Once the fence is finished, Kathy figures her work is done and Bob can finish up working with Nathan on his Scouting requirements.

When Nathan was just a toddler, Kathy stated in an Observer story, “I’m going to do everything possible to open doors for him.”

She remembered that statement Saturday morning when Nathan was busy spreading paint.

“This is one of those doors,” she said.

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