Swanton, Ohio,
08:00 AM

You Might Need A Hard Hat If…

Construction City, a Scouting tradition, gets assist from State Farm

You should really wear a hard hat when visiting Construction City. It helps if you’re sure-footed too.

Cardboard scraps, discarded rolls of tape, hacksaws, and random pairs of shoes are common sights. Turn a corner and you might find yourself in the middle of a light saber battle by young boys who discovered empty cardboard tubes. If you're not careful, Godzilla might even attack!

So what exactly is Construction City? Organized chaos for sure. But also a 25-year tradition for the Boy Scouts of northwest Ohio.

The program, supported by State Farm, is highly anticipated by the Webelos, (WE’ll BE LOyal Scouts), the Scouting program for fourth and fifth-graders.  Every structure they build is entirely made of cardboard, tape and ingenuity.

"Seeing my son, Asa, excited to take part in Construction City is rewarding," said Jennifer Mains of Swanton, Ohio.  "Asa has been in scouting for three years. He’s learning life skills like team work and listening and having so much fun.” 

It’s not just a one day effort though, the young Webelos plan and prepare for months. Fourth-grade Webelos create their design during monthly Den meetings. They even build a small “mock-up” of their structure to help prepare for the real event.

Webelos buy an 8x8 "plot of land" and get a building permit before any construction can begin. This helps simulate the actual construction process.

Fifth-grade Webelos design and build a bridge. This year several packs worked together to replicate the Vermillion Waffle Bridge. The bridge features orange cardboard construction barrels and a Matchbox traffic jam.

For Janice Parkinson, getting her son Charles out of bed early on a Saturday is usually a struggle, but not on Construction City day. “Charles, a Scout since first grade, couldn't wait to get up this morning.  He was ready in five minutes!” said Parkinson. “The kids have been working to design the bridge and come up with decorations for over a month.”

Bridges are evaluated on their ability to withstand pressure. A bridge testing unit applies pressure at the center of the bridge’s span. Scouts and parents gather around their bridge and watch as they crumble under pressure. Some sooner than others.

Once construction is complete, the judging begins.  Awards are given out for most creative, tallest, most detail, most historic, most unusual design and most original.  

When judging is complete, Webelos receive a permit from the “Chief Demolition Engineer.” Once again, organized chaos ensues as the structures come down. Materials are all recycled in an environmentally friendly manner.

Construction City is an incredibly fun day for Webelos and adults alike, but it’s also a learning experience the young boys will never forget.  

“The Construction City event teaches Scouts leadership skills by allowing them to work together to develop a design plan and take it all the way from the blue prints to a completed structure,” explained Stephen Porter, Program Delivery Support Director with the Erie Shores Council. “This event helps to introduce careers in science and engineering at an early age and sparks a hidden interest that can last a lifetime!”

David Hardy has been involved with Scouting programs and Construction City for more than a decade. The State Farm Agent from Delta, Ohio is a financial supporter, an Assistant Scout Master for Troop 344 and a Wood’s District Unit Leader, and his son Eric has just completed his Eagle Scout project.  David’s passion for Scouting runs deep, “I can never give back to this program what Scouting has given my son, myself and my family.”