Bay Ridge

Bay Ridge teen working toward Eagle Scout rank

September 8, 2014 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Basil Capetanakis prepares the collection bins he placed at various locations in Bay Ridge to gather toys, puzzles, school supplies and donations for Thursday’s Child, a program that helps autistic children. The donation drive is the centerpiece of Basil’s Eagle Scout project.

A Boy Scout who earns the rank of Eagle Scout gets to keep the coveted title for the rest of his life. It isn’t easy to get there, however. A prospective Eagle Scout has to earn at least 21 merit badges and must plan and execute a community service project that demonstrates his leadership skills.

Only five percent of Boy Scouts win promotion to Eagle Scout, the highest rank in scouting.

Famous Eagle Scouts include Academy Award winning movie director Steven Spielberg, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen Breyer and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Basil Capetanakis, a 15-year-old Bay Ridge scout, is working his way toward that lofty goal.

Capetanakis, a member of Troop 715 at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church in Bay Ridge, has organized his community service project around the theme of helping autistic children.

He is collecting donations for Thursday’s Child, a program that helps autistic kids. Thursday’s Child operates a school on 13th Avenue in Dyker Heights. Residents are being asked to donate crayons, balls, Play-Doh, puzzles, bubbles and school supplies.

“There are different types of autism. The teachers have different ways of reaching the students,” Capetanakis told the Brooklyn Eagle, explaining why the drive is open to all kinds of donations.

Capetanakis, a sophomore at Xavier High School in Manhattan, placed donation bins in eight locations throughout Bay Ridge and said he is grateful that two of the neighborhood’s most well known public officials, state Sen. Marty Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-southwest Brooklyn) and Councilmember Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst) agreed to have their district offices serve as drop-off spots.

Golden’s office is located at 7408 Fifth Ave. Gentile’s office is at 8018 Fifth Ave.

“I will be accepting donations until Sept. 25,” Capetanakis said.

When asked why he chose to highlight autistic children, Capetanakis said it’s because his consciousness has been raised by being a high school student. “Now that I ride the train to school, I see a lot more. It’s sad,” he said, adding that he has seen parents and autistic children on the subway.

“I wanted to give back to the community. My Mom and Dad have always told us how lucky we are to have the lives we have,” said Capetanakis, who is the oldest of four sons of Charles and Dena Capetanakis.

Capetanakis began exploring how to help autistic children and reached out to various programs. “Thursday’s Child expressed a need for various items,” he said. After meeting with the program director, Capetanakis planned his Eagle Scout project.

After Sept. 25, Basil will collect the donations, sort them with help from fellow Troop 715 members, and deliver them to Thursday’s Child.

He will also have to present his Eagle Scout project to a board of review of the Boy Scouts of America. His Eagle Scout induction ceremony is still months away.

The community service project is typically the last step a Boy Scout takes in his long journey to become an Eagle Scout. The Scout is required to plan, develop, and serve as the leader of a project that helps his religious institution, school, or community, according to the website of the National Eagle Scout Association.

More than two-million boys have been promoted to Eagle Scout since 1912.

Capetanakis joined troop 715 in the second grade and has been steadily moving up ever since. “I like the leadership role,” he said.

In addition to the Boy Scouts, Capetanakis enjoys sports. He is a member of the varsity swim team, and plays baseball and basketball.

He’s excited about the fact that two of his brothers are entering the Boy Scouts this year.

Even he earns his Eagle Scout status, Basil doesn’t plan to stop moving up the ladder. “There is an even higher form of Eagle Scout,” said the ambitious teen.

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