Scout makes Cove cemetery his Eagle Scout project
By LYNETTE SOWELL
A summer trip to visit family back in North Carolina turned into the seeds of 17-year-old Brennen Kellum’s Eagle Scout project in Copperas Cove.
Kellum said while he was in North Carolina, he and his family went to visit his grandmother’s grave and thought it sad visiting her grave was something they could only do in person. He thought there had to be a way for family members who can’t travel to visit the memorial of a loved one to view their final resting place.
“Then I found out about a site called findagrave.com, so I decided to make it my Eagle Scout project to ensure that every gravesite in the Copperas Cove cemetery has a picture and be documented on that site,” Kellum said.
Kellum has been a Boy Scout in Troop 224 since first grade, when the family first moved to Copperas Cove courtesy of the United States Army.
“We’ve been here since January 2006,” said Brennen’s father, Jeff Kellum. “We’ve been very blessed in that respect because it’s rare to see a military family in one place for so long.”
Kellum has been traveling back and forth to Copperas Cove on the weekends from Fort Polk, Louisiana where he is currently assigned. For the past two weekends, he’s been spending Saturday mornings at the cemetery with Brennen and his volunteers.
Underneath the cemetery’s pavilion, Brennen set up a map of the cemetery which shows both the old and new sections of the cemetery. Last weekend, he and 22 volunteers set about verifying each grave in the cemetery and if it was documented on the website. This past Saturday, Brennen wound up the project with the help of 11 volunteers.
The name on the gravestone was noted, and volunteers would do a search on the site to see if it was already recorded. If not, they would make a note of the name and dates of birth and death, then upload a photo of the grave taken on the spot.
Brennen gave specific instructions to volunteers for taking photos. Also, if there was any question about verifying the person’s name and/or dates, that was noted as well. He brought his bicycle with him to the cemetery so he could zip along the paved driveway to speedily answer questions from any of the volunteers.
Before starting the project, Brennen had to outline the scope of the project and submit it to the area Boy Scouts’ Eagle Scout board for prior approval. After the project is concluded—which includes about 1,200 graves in the older section of the cemetery alone—Brennen will submit a report on the project to the same board before he can be awarded the rank of Eagle Scout.
In addition to Brennen’s scouting activities, he is a senior at Copperas Cove High School, where he is a member of the Pride of Cove Band, where he plays the oboe for the concert band and the cymbals for the marching band. Summers have been spent working as a lifeguard in Bastrop at a Boy Scouts camp.
Brennen said he appreciated the help of Jeri Wood, a city of Copperas Cove employee, along with Kitten Howe, a member of the city’s cemetery advisory board, in helping get the project off the ground.
Scoutmaster Kurt Stellar was on hand Saturday morning, helping catalog and take photos of gravesites.
“We are a small troop, but this year we are doing some big things,” Stellar said of the efforts and achievements of his troop, which meets at and is sponsored by the Copperas Cove Moose Lodge 2029.
Kellum isn’t the only one in Troop 224 vying to complete his Eagle Scout requirements before turning 18 so he can achieve the highest rank in Boy Scouts. One Troop 224 scout is building new pulpits for his church, and in June, Izak Delleres, another troop member, built and installed wooden shelving for books at the Copperas Cove Public Library.