Pine River-Backus graduate becomes Pine River's first Eagle Scout in 11 years
Cody Deplazes's project provides birthdays in a basket for lower income families.
PINE RIVER — It's been 11 years since Jacob Weber, of Pine River, became an Eagle Scout. He was the last Eagle Scout to be named in Pine River, until now.
Weber was from Boy Scout Troop 73 in Pine River, so it is fitting that the next Eagle Scout, Cody Deplazes, came out of Troop 73 as well.
It was a long road.
"I joined when my dad was over the road and my grandpa wanted to do something fun with me when I was in first grade," Deplazes said. "I've done it for 12 years now."
Deplazes’s motivation in the group has changed over the years.
"When I was younger it was fun. We'd go play games and do Pinewood Derby racing," Deplazes said. "I joined Boy Scouts from Cub Scout, and I realized you could become an Eagle Scout. Someone told me when I was younger that if you were an Eagle Scout you could rank up quicker in the military when you join, which doesn't apply to me, unfortunately, but I thought that was really neat."
Deplazes never thought about leaving the Scouts, but he stalled a little along the way. However, he set a goal this past year.
"I threw it into gear and decided to finish it up," Deplazes said. "I wanted to become an Eagle Scout before I graduated."
Having such a short amount of time to reach his goal, Deplazes began searching for a project he could complete before graduation. That meant he couldn't wait for the ground to thaw in the spring for various construction options. He found an idea for organizing birthday baskets containing everything a family could need to throw a party.
"I planned on making 20, but we ended up with 18 baskets that had birthday party supplies," Deplazes said. "It had cake mix, lemonade mix, decorations, silverware and everything for about 5- to 10-year-old kids, maybe a little older or younger."
They loaded the kits into laundry baskets and delivered them to the Pine River-Backus Family Center to be distributed through the food shelf. To make the project work, Deplazes had to find sponsors among many local businesses. He also had to submit a budget and plan for the project before he could start.
After that, he and fellow Scouts bought what they could in Pine River and went to Brainerd for the rest. Deplazes said shopping with younger Scouts meant he could ask them what they would think of the supplies they were buying.
"It was really fun," Deplazes said. "We had all the kids in the troop help out."
Deplazes overshot his goal. He graduated May 15 from Pine River-Backus High School, and he was officially recognized as an Eagle Scout on July 26 in a ceremony at the Log Church in Crosslake.
Still, the result was worth it.
"I've learned a lot of responsibility and a lot of leadership skills from Scouting," Deplazes said. "I think when an employer looks at your resume and sees you're an Eagle Scout, some people might not think much of it, but it takes a lot of work to get there. I definitely recommend working toward it when you're young."
Deplazes will likely miss going to camp in the Boundary Waters. He has gone on annual camping trips every year. In addition to all of the fun trips, activities and new skills, Boy Scouts prepared him in other ways.
Deplazes's future includes two years at Hibbing Community College before returning to the area to work as a mechanic. He found a love for mechanical work alongside one of his mentors, Matt Shamp.
"Working on my truck and my dad's truck and my mom's van I've realized I enjoy it," Deplazes said. "It would be fun to do and something to learn new skills. Plus, it's a high demand trade right now."
Travis Grimler is a staff writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal weekly newspaper in Pequot Lakes/Pine River. He may be reached at 218-855-5853 or firstname.lastname@example.org.