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Built with an 'Eagle' eye: DL teen designs picnic shelter at Ecumen as Eagle Scout project

The new picnic shelter at Ecumen Detroit Lakes took about 143 hours to complete, from start to finish, and Cody Christen (far right) enlisted the help of about 15 friends, family members and fellow Boy Scouts on the project. (Submitted photo)1 / 7
Ecumen Detroit Lakes resident Glen Birke spent many hours supervising the construction of the new picnic shelter last summer and fall, and even helped out when he could. (Submitted photo)2 / 7
Cody Christen, left, and his fellow Boy Scouts, friends and family spent well over 100 hours working on the new picnic shelter at Ecumen Detroit Lakes last summer and fall, to complete his Eagle Scout service project. (Submitted photo)3 / 7
Detroit Lakes' newly minted Eagle Scout, Cody Christen (center), with his dad Mark and the residents and staff of Ecumen Detroit Lakes, who gave him a "thumbs up" for his work on their new picnic shelter. (Vicki Gerdes/Tribune)4 / 7
Ecumen Detroit Lakes resident Glen Birke spent many hours supervising the construction of the new picnic shelter last summer and fall, and even helped out when he could. (Submitted photo)5 / 7
Cody Christen, center, and his parents, Mark and Janel, were all smiles at his Eagle Scout award ceremony back in December. (Submitted photo)6 / 7
Cody Christen, his dad Mark (at right) and some other helping hands working on the new picnic shelter at Ecumen. (Submitted photo)7 / 7

The residents at Ecumen Detroit Lakes' long term care, transitional care and senior housing facilities now have a new place to enjoy an afternoon picnic, or just relax and soak up the summer warmth, thanks to Detroit Lakes High School senior Cody Christen and the Boy Scouts of Troop 646.

Last fall, Cody took on the design and construction of a new picnic shelter at Ecumen as a Boy Scouts service project — the last step he needed to take toward earning the rank of Eagle Scout.

"You have to find a service project that consists of at least 100 hours (of labor)," said Cody's dad, Mark Christen, who along with wife Janel, was enlisted to help their son with completion of the project, though Cody and his fellow Scouts did the majority of the work.

"I got all the materials from Menard's," said Cody, who works there part-time while attending DLHS, where he will graduate on May 27.

The cost of the materials was mainly funded by a grant from the (now defunct) Emmanuel Community Auxiliary, according to Ecumen's Sandy Lia, who helped to coordinate the project.

Menard's also contributed a blueprint of the project design for Cody to work from on the day he and his fellow Scouts came to Ecumen to construct the shelter.

Lia, who is a neighbor and friend of the Christen family, said that she had approached Cody about doing his Eagle service project at Ecumen, just as his brother Brandon had done a couple of years ago, when he designed and constructed a labyrinth garden there.

"I knew the quality of work that these Christen boys do," said Lia. "They know how to build things — and they're Boy Scouts!"

"I thought it would be a good idea," Cody said, adding that it was Lia who also came up with the idea of building a shelter.

Ecumen activities director Brenda Labine said that the residents had really enjoyed christening the new shelter with a picnic.

"They really love it," she said.

Mark Christen said that some of the residents had even turned up to help with building the shelter, as much as they were able — and one Ecumen resident, Glen Birke, spent several hours out there.

"He was in a wheelchair, but he was happy to be out there working," he added.

Cody Christen said the entire project took about 143 hours to to complete, from start to finish, and required the help of about 15 of his fellow Scouts, relatives and friends.

"It was a fun project," he said.

"We always have fun," his proud dad said, adding, "It turned out beautiful."

"They did a really great job," Lia said.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454
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