- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 18, 2014

SUMTER, S.C. (AP) - Looking like a graveyard is a compliment for one Manning boy’s Scout project.

Jason Woodbury, a 13-year-old homeschooler who served as a correspondent for The Sumter Item last summer while attending the National Scout Jamboree, has taken on the restoration of Cross Roads Cemetery as part of the effort to earn his Eagle Scout Award and achieve the highest available rank in Boy Scouts of America.

“I was just looking around for an idea, and I thought it would be kind of fun and challenging,” said the eighth-grader. “I wanted to make it more accessible.”

He and some adults from Cross Roads Bible Fellowship Church in Manning supervised other youths from Troop 339 recently as they got posts in the ground and dug a hole for one of two trees. The troop has dug a road around the old cemetery and is covering it with crushed concrete, Jason said. The trees will provide shade for a sitting area where a bench will be placed, and he plans to plant bushes along the road.

The $8,644 price tag was met with a combination of private donations, fund raisers and donated work hours, Jason said.

In 2005, the church purchased some land next to the sanctuary and discovered the small cemetery with two Civil War veterans, said Pastor John Hall.

“It was totally overgrown with briars and bamboo about 30 feet high,” he said. “This area was probably a family farm. We finally got the land cleared down to a manageable level.”

He was pleased when plans for fixing up the place coincided with Jason‘s.

“No. 1, as leaders in the church, we encourage and love the idea of initiative ministry and follow through,” Hall said. “It’s a wonderful thing for young men to interact with older individuals, to watch them come to maturity as they work through the project. It’s a lot of fun to see it come together, to watch the work and enjoy the fellowship while obtaining a common objective.”

David Woodbury, Jason’s father, is also proud of him.

“It’s a good lasting project for the church,” he said. “All I had to do was put him in touch with the right people, and Jason assembled his team. He had to do a lot of planning. He’s worked hard (and) has put 60 hours already into this project. I think he’s done a great job. Two weeks ago, this was just a field.”

Jason and his crew will next put chains on the posts to form a kind of fence and to try to finish up the landscaping, Woodbury said.


Information from: The Sumter Item, https://www.theitem.com

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