Brenin Ford, 18, calls sailing his “biggest passion.”
The senior at Christian Brothers Academy is also a newly minted Eagle Scout, and has been involved with Boy Scouting since he was a Cub Scout with Troop 333 of Wall.
When it came time for Brenin to complete a service project to earn his Eagle Scout status with Troop 72 of Neptune Township, he was finally able to unite these two pastimes by volunteering to create a storage facility for the Friends of Belmar Harbor [FOBH].
Brenin, who is a Wall Township resident, first got the idea to re-construct the FOBH’s storage unit in autumn 2009, when he was on the FOBH racing team. One day after coming back from a race, he went to get a sail and “could tell an animal had been sleeping in” the storage facility, he said with a laugh.
In addition to having a furry tenant, the small building’s “paint was getting chipped and the roof was shot and leaking, so they clearly needed something new,” he said.
Brenin realized that he could help the FOBH with their facilities as his Eagle Scout project.
“You have to jump through a lot of hoops to get to Eagle Scout,” Brenin explained. “One of those hoops is a service project.”
Brenin’s Scout leader, Frank Davidson, had encouraged him to choose a project he was passionate about, so working with the FOBH was a good fit.
In addition to having sailed competitively as part of the FOBH team and independently, Brenin is a member of the Sandy Hook Bay Catamaran Club and works as a sailing instructor for the Monmouth County Parks System.
Once Brenin had chosen his project, he sought approval from the FOBH.
The FOBH is a nonprofit community sailing program run by donations, and a board of trustees who are from Belmar and surrounding towns. The group offers sailing lessons to children in the summer with equipment included, and also hosts sailing workshops for children from Newark over the summer.
Dave Burns, who is president of the FOBH’s board of trustees, was “thrilled” to hear Brenin’s idea, he said.
“We knew it [the storage unit] was falling down and we needed to replace it,” Mr. Burns said. “He volunteered to do it, which was great. He did a perfect job.”
After Brenin had the FOBH’s approval, his next step was to approach then-mayor Kenneth Pringle for the borough of Belmar’s approval.
“When he came and presented the idea, he had made a scale model of the proposed building with other objects on it so that we could get to see the exact scale,” Mr. Pringle said. “He really did a very thorough job of planning it.”
Brenin had gotten help from Robert Houseal, an architect from Spring Lake who is a family friend. Mr. Houseal helped Brenin to draw plans for the structure on paper.
Brenin and Mr. Houseal had begun the architectural planning in the beginning of the summer, and the plan had Mr. Pringle’s signature by Aug. 5, 2010.
The next step was to gather all of the materials necessary for the project’s completion. Brenin received paint, lumber and other materials from Belmar’s Jaegar Lumber, Taylor Hardware and Belmar Paints, as well as leftover materials from local families who were doing construction on their houses. In addition to these materials, Brenin also garnered $2,000 of donations from friends, family members and area residents.
While he was gathering the materials and monetary donations, Brenin also demolished the previous structure.
By Sept. 18, Brenin and his crew of volunteers were able to break ground and start building the storage facility.
The group was only able to work on the weekends, because Brenin had crew practice during the week. However, he was still able to finish his project by Nov. 6.
The process was hindered by a car accident in which Brenin was involved on Oct. 4.
Brenin broke his shoulder in the accident, which postponed the project by two- and one-half weeks. The injury has also become an obstacle in Brenin’s pursuit of another dream — attending the Air Force Academy and becoming a pilot.
Now, Brenin plans on attending a four-year college and possibly transferring to the Air Force Academy later.
Brenin also takes flying lessons, is an active scuba diver and is a member of the varsity crew team at Christian Brothers Academy [CBA] in Lincroft.
In order to add Eagle Scout to his list of accomplishments, Brenin had to finish his service project before his eighteenth birthday, which was Dec. 1, 2010.
“You have from the day you enter sixth grade until your eighteenth birthday” to prepare an Eagle Scout application, Brenin said. “If you don’t have all of the requirements, you’re done — you can’t get it.”
Brenin completed his project in time, and sat for an examination from a board of older Eagle Scouts, who asked him questions about topics both related and unrelated to Boy Scouts.
“They ask you some questions not even pertaining to Scouts. They want to see you make an opinion and defend that opinion,” Brenin said.
Now that Brenin has passed his Eagle Scout examination and has filed all of the necessary paperwork, he is applying to be an adult leader of Troop 72.
“I figure I owe it back to the troop,” he said. “They’ve given me countless fun experiences. We’ve gone on so many fun trips and the adult leaders I had were a whole lot of fun.”
As for his experience building the storage facility, “I had a blast,” Brenin said. “I learned a lot, as with any construction project. I am extremely pleased with how it came out — it came out beyond my expectations.”
Members of the FOBH and the borough of Belmar are also thankful to Brenin.
“We’re thrilled,” Mr. Burns said. “It’s something that’s tangible, that we can use right away.”
“He did a wonderful job,” Mr. Pringle said. “We’re very proud of him.”