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Sue Bush
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Berkshire Profile: Christopher Gleason

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Sunday, November 26, 2006

Eagle Scout Christopher Gleason
Welcome to Berkshire Profile, an iberkshires weekly feature appearing on Sunday. Each week, iberkshires will highlight a Berkshires resident or entity making a contribution to the Berkshires way of life.

Florida - At 15 years old, Christopher Gleason is tackling a schedule that many adults would find challenging.

There are the demands of education - Gleason is a Charles H. McCann Technical School sophomore enrolled as a carpentry student - and there are the responsibilities of being an active member of the Florida Volunteer Fire Department Junior Firefighter program.

Gleason also often accompanies North Adams Ambulance Service emergency medical technicians as "third," meaning that he is a third person who rides in the ambulance. Gleason does not deliver any assistance to patients but does observe the actions of EMTs.

"I hope to be an EMT here someday," Gleason said during a Nov. 25 interview.

Eagle Scout

Gleason is a member of Boy Scout Troop 38 and in August, he was one of five Troop 38 scouts awarded Eagle Scout rank. Eagle Scout is the highest rank awarded through the Boy Scouts of America organization.

The recognition came as a bit of a surprise, Gleason said.

Earlier this year, Gleason was nominated to attend a junior conservation camp by Troop 38 Patrol Leader Wayne Tinney and the nomination to the camp was accepted. Gleason had completed Eagle Scout requirements, such as earning 21 merit badges and leading a community service project, but thought that time constraints would leave him unable to complete the application process and also attend the camp.

Gleason left for the camp session convinced that he'd have to postpone his Eagle Scout application.

"I just didn't think there was enough time," he said.

Gleason's mother Paige Gleason, his father Michael Gleason, and Troop 38 Assistant Leader Tom Decker assembled Gleason's Eagle Scout application, including five reference letters, and while Christopher Gleason was at the camp, they submitted the paperwork to a Board of Review. The application was received on time and Gleason underwent a required board member review. During a special Boy Scout award session known as a Court of Honor, Gleason became an Eagle Scout.

The honor came with a physical initiation known as "dubbing," Christopher Gleason said.

"Dubbing" means allowing other Eagle Scouts and troop leaders who earned the Eagle Scout rank to deliver three light physical blows each to the new Eagle Scouts' shoulders, he explained.

Through The Ranks

Gleason joined the Boy Scouts about seven years ago and progressed through the ranks as a Tenderfoot, Second Class Boy Scout, First Class Boy Scout, Life Boy Scout, and achieved scouting's "Star" designation by earning a number of merit badges. The Life rank status requires a community service project; Gleason helped with a residential siding project that benefited a Goshen, Mass.-based Camp Holy Cross leader to meet the requirement.

For a required Eagle Scout community service project, Gleason was part of a three-person work crew that painted a Florida fire department building near the muster field on River Road.

Scouting has held Gleason's interest over the years because of the variety and range of activities, he said.

"It's fun," he said. "You go places, you do things, you meet people and you learn things. At summer camp, I learned to rappel and a couple of years ago we went to Washington, D.C.. We saw Gettysburg. We're planning a trip to Florida."

While at the conservation camp, Gleason earned a several licenses and certifications. He did not earn an available hunter safety license at camp because he and several other camp participants had already secured the certification.

"We learned about forest fires, about how to shoot bow and arrow and guns," he said. "We did first aid, and we learned a lot about the woods."

How To Keep Warm In The Woods

Woodsman and survival skills are a large part of scouting, Gleason said. He carries a lighter when he ventures into the woods, he said, and offered basic fire-starting instructions.

"This is if you want to keep warm," he said jokingly. "I do want to keep warm in the woods."

To start a campfire, collect small pieces of dry wood to use as kindling. Kindling should be arranged in a "tipi" shape. Gleason suggested finding a small branch and then bending or folding it, and placing it in the kindling center. Light the fire with a lighter or dry matches, and slowly add larger pieces of dry wood to build the fire.

Leaves are not a recommended fuel for flames because "leaves just smoke," Gleason said.

"If you start your fire and you get flame but it goes out, use a hat or a piece of bark and fan it, give it lots of oxygen," he said.

Campfires must be fully extinguished before leaving a campsite. Dousing with water is a recommended method of extinguishing a fire. Embers must be sodden and cool before a fire may be considered extinguished.

Leading By Example

Gleason is proud of Troop 38, its' adult patrol leaders, Scoutmaster Don Girard, and his own status as a senior patrol leader and junior troop leader.

He noted that Troop 38 hosts a girls patrol named "The CocoaPuffs." Gleason's 10-year-old sister Erynn is a member of the female patrol.

"I think we are the only troop around this region that has a girls patrol," he said.

Her brother is a good role model and leads by example, Erynn said.

His accomplishments have encouraged her to excel, she said.

B-Day Hint: A Black Standard-Shift GMC Jimmy Would Be Nice...

If a career as an EMT doesn't pan out, Gleason said he would like to be a professional firefighter or serve as a member of the U.S. National Guard. He enjoys music and is an avid fan of the bands "Disturbed" and "Metallica." His favorite vehicle is a standard-shift GMC Jimmy and his favorite color is black, he said.

He will celebrate his 16th birthday in February and is anticipating acquiring a driver's license learner's permit.

"A Good Place For Kids"

Gleason lived in North Adams with his family until he entered the seventh grade. The family moved to Florida and Gleason completed seventh and eighth grades at the Gabriel Abbott school.

"The classes were smaller and that was good for me," Gleason said of the mountain town school. "My eighth grade class had 12 kids. In North Adams, I had more access to friends, but in Florida I was able to join the junior fire firefighter program. And I did see my friends in Florida."

His activities promote community service and offer numerous recreational opportunities that meet his interests, Gleason said. He noted that numerous youth groups, such as the Grooove, UNITY, and the Adams, Cheshire, Savoy, Youth Coalition and the Adams Youth Center, offer different outlets to youth.

"I think the Berkshires is a good place for kids," he said. "There are a lot of kids here and I have a lot of friends. There are things for kids to do. I enjoy what I do and I know there are groups for kids who have interests in the arts and other stuff. The kids have to take advantage of what's out there."

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at or at 802-823-9367.
Your Comments
Post Comment
I thought I really knew you, I guess I thought wrong. I'm very, very proud to know such a fine person as you. I remember the time you showed me your camp near the N.Adams Amulance building. Little did I know, because you're so quiet, that was the beginning of your accomplishments in scouting. I just wanted to take a moment to say keep leading by example and many other young people will learn great accomplishments from your efforts and your success. Good gig Chris!
from: Danny Howlandon: 02-14 00:00:00-2007

Chris, You have become an amazing young man and I am so proud to have worked with you in school all those years ago. Congrats on your Boy Scout accomplishments! I remember sitting in the crowd at your eighth grade graduation ceremony and hearing your name announced to receive the Cooper Award--I cried. Keep up the great work,and always remember that the guy looking back at you in the mirror is the only one you have to impress. Mrs. Betti :)
from: Jacquie Bettion: 11-29 00:00:00-2006

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