Eagle Scout spreads his wings in Eagle County | VailDaily.com

Eagle Scout spreads his wings in Eagle County

Derek Franzdfranz@eaglevalleyenterprise.comEagle, CO Colorado
Special to the Vail DailyPrather Silverthorn, on the ladder, builds a directory at the Cedar Hill Cemetery for his Eagle Scout project.

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado -In the fall of 2007, Prather Silverthorn was the only remaining member of Boy Scout Troop 222. He was stalled on the community project that would earn him the rank of Eagle Scout and facing a challenging academic load at Eagle Valley High School. The added loneliness taxed his motivation. Encouragement from his family and Scout leaders helped him stick it out, though. In the end, he helped carry the torch to a another generation and Troop 222 has since experienced a surge of participation.Troop leader Wayne Nelson said Silverthorn bolstered the life of the troop.”He really did have a lot to do with scouting in Eagle County from the standpoint that he held on and we stood behind him,” Nelson said. If Silverthorn hadn’t stayed the course, there would’ve been no reason for the troop leaders to stick together and continue the program.Now, Troop 222 is sending 11 boys to the national jamboree in Virginia this year, which will also be a celebration for Boy Scouts of America’s 100th anniversary. While en route to Virginia, those boys will also tour New York City and Washington, D.C.”It’s to the point where it’s getting fun again,” Nelson said of the increased participation.In a way, Silverthorn got the short end of the stick on the jamboree experience. Normally the national jamborees are held every four years. This time around, however, the jamboree is being held on the fifth year to mark the triple-digit anniversary. Silverthorn can’t go, but he could have last year.He takes it in stride. There are other benefits he gets to enjoy now that he is an assistant troop leader.”I get to go on camp outs and I don’t have to set up camp or do dishes,” he said with a laugh.

For his community Eagle Scout project, Silverthorn reorganized the Cedar Hill Cemetery records. In a letter to the western Colorado council for Boy Scouts of America, Frances Barela, a cemetery board member, wrote, “The project was a great undertaking by Mr. Silverthorn, which I am sure consisted of countless hours researching names … identifying plot locations and construction of an information display case. … This information will be very beneficial to the community.””I think it was long overdue,” Barela said.The idea for the project came from Silverthorn’s grandmother, Dian Zillner, who moved to Gypsum 15 years ago to be with the family.”I was always interested in old cemeteries,” she said. She went for a walk at Cedar Hill and discovered some mystery graves, where vandals destroyed the markers in the 1930s. She was curious if there was a way to find who the occupants were. “I asked the groundskeeper, ‘How can you tell where everyone’s buried?'” Zillner said.The groundskeeper, Eleno Velez, told her to look at the map, which turned out to be too old and weathered to read.Shortly after that, “Silverthorn and I became frequent visitors of the cemetery,” Zillner said.The Scout made at least four walk-throughs of the graveyard, beginning the fall of his junior year. The first two were to collect the names and locations and the third to ensure accuracy.After the first couple walks, however, it snowed before he could organize the data in a spreadsheet. That was also about the time troop participation dwindled and left Silverthorn all alone. School obligations piled on, too. In addition to advanced and dual-credit courses, Silverthorn plays in jazz band and runs cross country and track. With some encouragement from family he finished the project and submitted the paperwork two weeks before the deadline of his 18th birthday.Zillner said that she and Silverthorn put flowers on the unmarked graves last year and that someone else had been doing the same for all the babies’ grave sites.”A lot of those people are forgotten,” she said. “There are no relatives left in the area to take care of those graves.”

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