Daniel Nelson dove into scouting at a young age and with two years of eligibility remaining, he's already earned the organization's highest rank.
In a ceremony held last summer, Nelson was awarded the Eagle Scout Medal of Honor and Badge symbolizing his achievement in earning the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouts of America (BSA).
Nelson joined scouts when he was in the second grade. As a youngster scouts was all about the fun, but as he grew in the organization he came to understand the opportunities that scouting afforded him.
As he watched fellow scouts work toward the rank of Eagle Scout, he knew he wanted to be among those elite scouts.
"I wanted to achieve more and this was something I knew was attainable," Nelson said.
In order to earn the rank of Eagle Scout, a young man must meet a series of requirements that include serving as a leader in their troop, earning 21 merit badges and demonstrating scout spirit through the planning and completion of an Eagle Scout leadership service project.
In considering his project, Nelson wanted to do something that included his passion for swimming. He's a competitive swimmer with the Joliet Park District's Blue Tide Swim Team.
Nelson teamed up with Make a Splash, an initiative of the USA Swimming Foundation to provide equipment for children enrolled in the program.
Make a Splash, according to its website, is a national child focused water safety initiative that seeks to provide children with an opportunity to learn how to swim.
According to Make a Splash more than 1.5 million children have participated in the program.
Donations are used to offset the cost of lessons and equipment and due to Nelson's efforts, the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission's Department of Parks and Recreation received 96 swim equipment bags.
The mesh bags were filled with kickboards and pull buoys, products provided at a discounted rate from Keifer Swim Shop in Zion and the local Dollar General.
The Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission reports the donation benefited second grade students from 23 schools enrolled in a free swim lesson and water safety program.
To support his initiative, Nelson held a swim-a-thon and solicited donations from various local businesses, organizations and individuals. His efforts generated more than $1,500 for the cause.
Nelson, with assistance from fellow scouts and friends, logged 78 man-hours on the project. It began in August 2011 when he sought approval through USA Swimming and then the Boy Scouts Rainbow Council.
Now that his project is completed and the Eagle Scout Medal achieved, Nelson is working with other scouts who hope to soar among the Eagles.
Nelson is currently involved in the Boy Scouts National Youth Leadership Training program and assisting the local scout organization.
The teen says he's been able to accomplish his goals due to the support he receives at home.
"I can't thank my mom (Kathy Nelson) enough for her help, support and encouragement," Nelson said.