Sound Room / Sound System Enhancement Project (2012)
Led by Stephen F. in partial fulfillment of the requirements for Eagle Scout
If the organizational aims of the scouting program are to:
- grow moral strength/character
- develop participating citizenship, and
- develop physical, mental and emotional fitness
Then what are the tests to measure success or failure of the program to materially fulfill these aims?
There are more than 250 specific skill, service and personal growth requirements which must be completed before a young man may be recognized as an Eagle Scout. The most challenging of which is this:
“While a Life Scout, plan, develop, and give leadership to others in a service project helpful to any religious institution, any school, or your community. (The project must benefit an organization other than Boy Scouting.)”
Commonly referred to as the “Eagle Scout Service Project” this is an opportunity for the scout to spread his wings and fly on his own. You see, during his trail towards this point, he’s been led by other, older scouts and guided by adults; however, on this project he is the point person in charge. He must explain the project to gain approvals, and then organize supplies, budgets, work crew schedules, safety briefings, permits, et.al.
He will be evaluated on how he demonstrated leadership, responsibility, communication skills, and ownership of the project outcomes for better or worse.
Today, we are providing a report on our first Eagle candidate’s project – an effort to improve the functionality and fidelity of the sound system at First Baptist Church of Hackensack (a member of the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches).
The church sanctuary was originally constructed in the mid-1800’s with no expectation that an electronic sound amplification system would be employed to help attendees hear music or sermons more clearly. When a modern sound system was installed, the only place for a sound room was a converted coat closet at the rear corner of the sanctuary.
This seven-foot by seven-foot room became even more crowded with equipment and a second operator when computer projection of visuals were added to the building (to project the words to hymns, etc. on a screen at the front of the hall).
In order to hear and see what is happening in the sanctuary, three narrow stained glass panels were removed, but the framing was left in place. This created a set of baffles which muffle sound transmission and serve as view blocks to the sanctuary. Additionally, since the sound equipment occupies the front wall of the room, the computer operator was forced to sit facing away from the sanctuary to operate the projection equipment.
Furniture was second-hand and not properly designed for the space available. Excess and surplus equipment was stored in any available space making it a challenge to locate specific items when needed. Overall, the room was crowded and an uninviting space for volunteers.
The sound system components represent a hodge-podge mix of equipment connected in a tangle of wires with varied connector systems and a run of extension cords. Sound quality is affected by old microphones, long runs of cables (which act as antennas to pick up radio station interference), older amplifiers and loose connections.
Initially, a goal of upgrading speakers and replacing cables with specially shielded coatings was estimated to cost roughly $25,000 or more. Without specific funding in place for those types of upgrades, it was deemed too great a fundraising burden for the scope of the project.
The modified goal focused on replacing microphones, repairing fittings and connectors, renovating the sound room with new furniture and storage options, and improving sight lines by opening up the window between the sound room and sanctuary.
With a project approval, budgeting and fundraising began in late summer 2012. Scouts were recruited to prepare breakfast for the men’s and women’s monthly morning bible study. Additionally, scouts volunteered to staff a car wash. A gift card for $100 was donated by Lowe’s to help cover construction costs (Thank You, Lowe’s!)
Over the course of several weekends, new furniture was built, primed and painted. The sound room was cleaned out and prepped for renovation. The old furniture was removed and the audio component rack system was slowly taken apart.
Once the new furniture and storage systems were in place, the audio system was de-tangled and reinstalled followed by the computers and visual projection systems.
The new configuration allows both operators to sit side-by-side and face forward. They can see and hear activity within the sanctuary through the new window opening. New microphones, a new amplifier and a new computer system have reduced background noise and increased the effectiveness of the sound room team as they provide a smooth worship experience during services. The Eagle candidate led teams in fundraising (covering 100% of projected costs), construction and training scenarios. He also handled all record keeping for money, construction details and supplying appropriate audio and computer equipment upgrades.
The church has provided a letter affirming their satisfaction that the job is complete and was helpful.
The Eagle candidate will participate in a formal “Board of Review” to determine whether his nomination to be recognized as Eagle Scout will be forwarded to the national headquarters for their review and approval.
Even if this candidate would not be approved, then at least he has learned and practiced life skills to prepare him for a productive future as a “participating citizen with strong character, mind and body” – a living testimony that the aims of scouting have been fulfilled.