Eagle Scout at Camelot Education’s Therapeutic Day School of the Quad Cities Strives to be His Best
Austin Adams, an 11th grade student at Camelot Education’s Therapeutic Day School of the Quad Cities, achieved Scouting’s highest honor, Eagle Scout, a height reached by only about six percent of all Boy Scouts.
After earning various merit badges, Scouts can work their way up the ranks, but it’s a final community-benefit project that can put a Scout over the top. For his project, Austin built benches and flower beds for a nursing home in his hometown of Morrison, Illinois. And he built them in a position where residents in wheelchairs could access them and plant items themselves. He used donated wood pallets, breaking them down and building the beds from the reused material.
“Winning was pretty great,” Austin said. “I went through a lot of emotions with that. I had to compose myself at the ceremony. The project took the longest time, between bad weather and trying to find a way to tear the pallets apart. I asked my brothers help me from time to time and my parents pitched in, too.”
Austin, who turns 17 next month and presents with Autism Spectrum Disorder, came to Camelot of the Quad Cities in June of 2018 from Morrison High School. His mother, Angela Adams, notes he has made excellent progress on his social-emotional skills since coming to Camelot.
“The therapeutic side has been very beneficial to him. He can handle situations a lot better than he used to. I see less anger, for example,” she said. “He always wants to be the best. He expects perfection from himself. So for him earning Eagle Scout was about reaching the top level. He enjoys all the scouting activities like camping, especially when he has family with him. He has merit badges for wilderness survival, first-aid, and even cooking.”
The cooking skill may come in handy because Austin is in Camelot’s vocational program and works at Chick-fil-A two days a week. He started working at the restaurant one day a week, shadowing employees with the support of Camelot staff.
“He demonstrated a great deal of responsibility and independence, and as time went on, he was then able to take on a paying job,” said Tiffany Piehl, vocational job coach at Camelot of the Quad Cities. “He is now able to work independently, so they hired him part-time, and he works a two-hour shift two days a week. He brings food out to customers at their tables among other tasks, and he has begun to train on the register.”
The owner of the franchise happens to be former South Suburban Center for Exceptional Learners executive director Jon Klavohn, who hopes to hire and train other Camelot students in the future.
Austin arrives at school by bus and is transported by the school to Chick-fil-A where he works his shift. He earns high school credit for working as part of his vocational program, and then he returns to school for regular classes the rest of the day.
The school’s executive director Debra Singley, said what stands out for her is how much Austin cares about others. “He’s very supportive,” she said. “He gave a beautiful speech about a classmate who was graduating.”
In that speech, Austin said to his friend, “When I first came to Camelot, I knew next to nothing at all, but you did. You took me in, and because of the mercy and grace you had, I learned many things and evolved from the experience. I hope someone out there will take you under their wing and give you the same mercy and grace as you gave me…I hope the fate of the stars will let us meet up once more, great friend.”
“He’s done really well at Chick-fil-A,” Mrs. Adams said. “Handling that job has given him a lot of confidence. Camelot walked him through the whole process from filling out the application and going through an interview, to the tasks and expectations of the job.”
Austin wants to build on the experience. “I’d like to work even more hours than a do now. I’d like Chick-fil-A to open one in Morrison. I even tried to start a petition drive with one of my friends.”
Now that he has achieved top Scout status, he is remaining in the Scouts with the opportunity to win more medals, called Palms, for further exemplary performance. He engages in Scouting activities on Monday nights and weekends, and you may not be surprised to learn he has already qualified for the first Palm. As for his future after high school, his mother has some ideas.
“He plays drums, guitar, and piano. He also loves playing video games. He has thought about mixing these two passions and after high school moving ahead and learning to produce music for video games,” Mrs. Adams said.
In the more immediate future, Austin hopes to return to Morrison High School in his hometown.
“That’s our goal as well,” Singley said. “We integrate our students back to their district school as soon as they are ready for that. Right now, Austin’s team feels that because he’s experiencing so much success with us he will remain here at this point. He represents our school very well. He’s a positive role model for other students.”