Eagle Scout project helps keep China Camp fire-safe

Handmade storage boxes create a safe, dry home for the park’s fire hoses.

When it came time for Roman Dubrowski to settle on an Eagle Scout service project, the then-15-year-old from San Rafael turned to a place he loved: China Camp. 

“I didn’t know what I was going to do for my project for a really long time,” notes Roman, a tall, soft-spoken young man who joined Cub Scouts as a first-grader at Coleman Elementary in San Rafael. “I procrastinated for six months.” 

Roman’s troop leader stepped in, sending Roman a list of possible projects. There, Roman spied China Camp State Park. “That really stuck out to me,” he explains. “I had camped there and I really loved it.” Suggested projects at the park included building wooden boxes that could hold the park’s cache of heavy canvas fire hoses. The boxes would be mounted in strategic locations throughout the park. “I wanted to learn how to cut wood and do other carpentry skills,” adds Roman.

Eagle Scout service project: the highest requirement in Boy Scouts of America, requiring the Scout to plan, develop, and give leadership to others.

Once Roman had settled on a project, he needed someone to help him. Enter Jono Hale, a retired contractor and enthusiastic Friends of China Camp volunteer. Jono had done other carpentry projects for the park, such as rebuilding trail kiosks, so helping Roman design and build the wooden fire-hose boxes was a natural fit. 

Eagle Scout Roman Dubrowski installs fire-hose boxes with FOCC volunteer Robert Ciudad-Real.

“Roman came in with a great attitude,” says Jono. “He didn’t have much experience, but he was sponge-like in his willingness to listen and learn.”

Roman, now in his junior year at Marin Catholic, agrees with the lack of experience. “I didn’t know anything,” he admits. “The most challenging part was learning all the tools and terminology,” he explains. “There are so many different words for things in carpentry—wacky names like ‘finger board’ that I’d never heard before.”

Catching on quickly, Roman worked with Jono to first create a blueprint and then build a prototype box. “He spent a lot of time using a hugely dangerous chop saw, screw guns, a band saw,” says Jono. “He cut every single piece of wood for all the boxes—even multiple cuts that you’d never see.” 

Once the prototype was done, Roman started fundraising for materials—another requirement for an Eagle Scout project. The next step was to organize a work day (slated for Jono’s front yard), when Roman would invite other Scouts and pals to help him build three more boxes. 

“That was the most fun day of the project,” says Roman. “I got to work with all my friends, even boss them around a little bit,” he adds with a smile. “It was fun to be working outside with my friends, doing something tangible that would help the community.” 

At the end of July, Roman and FOCC volunteers mounted two of the boxes—one in the campground and one at the maintenance area behind the Ranger Station. “I think they look really nice,” says Roman. We do too. The boxes look even better when we remember the generous, community-minded young man who made them possible.

Photos: JOYCE ABRAMS (TOPk), Harriot Manley (Bottom)