For David G. Tibbitts III, 18, a senior at Pilgrim High School who earned the rank of Eagle Scout last week, Scouting is a way of life.
“It’s mainly a family thing,” he said. “My great-grandfather was a Scoutmaster, and my grandfather was in it for a bit, so I thought, ‘Why not give it a shot?’ That’s why I am where I am today.”
Tibbitts, a member of Troop 1 Gaspee Plateau, has been involved with the Narragansett Council Boy Scouts of America since he was 11, and was honored during a ceremony held Jan. 19 at the Asbury United Methodist Church at 143 Ann Mary Brown Drive. A reception followed at the Warwick Firefighters Hall at 740 Warwick Avenue.
His family attended the event, including his great-grandmother Regina Richard, a former Scout den mother. At 88 years old, she said she feels privileged to still be alive to see her great-grandson’s achievements.
“I feel so honored that I got to see him because we’re a big Scouting family to begin with,” she said. “His great grandpa and I were in Scouting for years, so we know and realize how much it means to receive that award. We are extremely proud.”
The highlight of the event, said Richard, was when the Scoutmaster asked Tibbitts to say a few words, and he said he was thrilled he earned the award because he promised his grandfather, Richard’s son, Edward Richard Jr., he would continue the family legacy. Edward was a Scout Master at St. Rita’s Church in Oakland Beach.
But for David, going for the award wasn’t just about a promise he made to his grandfather; it was about helping people. He revealed his sentiments through the completion of his service project, which was aiding the John Brown Francis Elementary School PTA in constructing a Reading Garden on the front lawn of the school.
David, who graduated from John Brown in 2007, was required to complete a community service project of his choice to earn the title of Eagle Scout. Doing something at his former school seemed like a no-brainer.
“One of the parents coordinated an effort to revamp the front and do a Reading Garden,” David said. “I needed some ideas for my Eagle Project, so I asked if I could work on it, and that’s where it started.”
His idea for the garden was to place stepping-stones in a grass area leading up to a granite bench. The stones each have inspirational words engraved on them, such as “Loyalty” and “Honesty.”
“They are values that I think people need to know in today’s society in order to advance,” he said. “They lead up to this granite bench at the end, which represents a better, accomplished life.”
The granite bench was his contribution to the project, while the PTA funded the rest. He spent about $400 that he raised with a yard sale at his home this spring, as well as donations he solicited from family and friends.
School Principal Frank Ricci said he’s grateful for David’s hard work, as well as efforts made by the PTA, for installing the garden during the summer. In addition to the stepping-stones and bench, there are a few more benches, a brick walkway, plus newly planted grass, shrubs and trees.
“In the warm weather, teachers go out there with the children,” Ricci said. “They sit out there and read, or have lunch. It gives the school more of a home feeling.”
David’s contributions to John Brown don’t end there, as he has served as a volunteer mentor for the school’s drama club for four years. In fact, he starred as Willy Wonka in a production of “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.”
“It’s a way to help out and give back,” he said of volunteering.
He also enjoys being a mentor for younger troops in Scouting. Just being around them, he said, hopes to give them the confidence and motivation to succeed as Scouts.
“I want to be there so they can say, ‘Hey, if he can do it, I can do it,’” David said.