PAYSON, Ariz. – Necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention. While the camping/picnic shelter was invented long ago, having one at the Payson Airport (KPAN) campground would’ve been nice when then 6-year-old James Nebrig and his family waited out a very wet thunderstorm in a tent.
Sitting in that soaking tent, James started wondering why the campground didn’t have a shelter from both the rain and sun.
A PLANTED SEED
In the six years that followed, the idea of a picnic shelter for the Payson Airport Campground grew from just wishful thinking of a 6-year-old boy to a full-on plan of action for the now 13-year -old young man.
“I became a Life Scout last December ,” said James Nebrig. “I couldn’t officially start my project until then, but had almost everything ready.”
James had already received the approval of Payson Airport Manager and had the plans ready.
“We’d spoken to a number of pilots over the years about this shelter,” said James’ father Ken Nebrig. “They asked us to let them know when we were ready to start.”
As soon as James got the green light, they let the pilot community know and “we were blown away by the financial and volunteer support.”
From the start, the project was blessed with unseasonably perfect weather. Favorable day and night temperatures and lots of sun made for a comfortable project.
The project kicked off with a survey on Jan. 12, the footings and forms were dug Jan. 17-18, concrete was poured Jan. 23, flooring was installed Jan. 26 and building took place over two consecutive weekends, Feb. 7-8 and 14-15.
Both James and Ken marveled at how well everything fell into place.
“When we ordered the trusses from Home Depot, we were told there would be a two-plus month wait,” continued Ken. “The next day, the truss company called and asked if this was for an Eagle Scout Project. I answered in the affirmative, and was told the trusses would be moved to the front of the line and be on that week’s delivery truck.”
“Everyone from Trader Joe’s to Lowe’s to the airport couldn’t have been more helpful and supportive,” beamed James. “It was a lot of fun.”
A COMPLETE CAMPGROUND
“The campground has 12 sites,” said Payson Airport Manager Ray Law. “All sites include a fire ring, and a charcoal grill. We also have bathroom and showers.” The airport even provides campfire wood.
And now they have a shelter.
“Being able to get out of the sun or rain is nice for our guests,” continued Law. “It also works well for a pot-luck set-up.”
Reservations aren’t required, but are taken. Law encouraged anyone interested in camping at the airport to call first to make sure spots are open.
“I asked a number of airport mangers in the area about my project,” noted James. “I was surprised at how many wanted it done at their airport.” Seems budgets are a bit tight.
To obtain the rank of Eagle, each scout is required to complete an Eagle Scout Service Project that benefits a non-profit or governmental agency in the community.
So all we have to do is match up Eagle Scout candidates with budget-strapped airport managers (that’s all of ’em) and voila… airport improvements that don’t cost taxpayers anything and help a Scout learn some valuable life skills.
While James didn’t invent the campground shelter, he may have created a template-in-the-making for airport improvement. Congratulations James.
The shelter will be officially dedicated on Sept. 18, 2015.