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The Eagle has Landed at Camp Eagle

August 18, 2014

IMG_3484  Eagle 1

Through the generosity of Mutual of Omaha, Mutual of Omaha Bank, and Dan Neary, 2008 chairman of the Mid-America Council board, a statue of an eagle, the symbol of our freedom and representational of the highest rank in Scouting, graces the entrance of Camp Eagle, a premier Boy Scout camp located near Cedar Bluffs, NE.

The statue of a bald eagle in flight with wings spread wide is aptly titled, Bald Eagle in Flight. With a 20-foot wingspan, and constructed of cordon steel mounted on a pedestal, the awe-inspiring statue weighs 3,000 pounds and stands nearly two stories tall.

The dedication ceremony for the statue was held Saturday at 10:00 a.m., August 16, 2014 at Camp Eagle, Covered Wagon Scout Ranch, 2911 County Road 15, Cedar Bluffs, Nebraska.

Dan Owens, John Rickert, Mike Homa, and Eric Magendantz

Dan Owens, John Rickert, Mike Homa, and Eric Magendantz

John Rickerts welcomed all to the dedication ceremony and introduced the guest speakers. Guest speakers included Eric Magendantz, Troy Schmidtke, and Dan Owens. Rickert serves as properties committee chairman for Mid-America Council (MAC), Boy Scouts of America, is an Eagle Scout and a long-time member of Nani-Ba-Zhu.

Troy Schmidtke

Troy Schmidtke

He said, “When I first read the email about the eagle last spring, I knew Camp Eagle should be its home, and was ready to find the funding through NBZ members donations.” John didn’t have to go that route, because the MAC properties committee, the board, and everyone wanted the eagle to land at Camp Eagle.

Eric Magendantz, Mid-America Council Scout Executive shared the story of the eagle during the ceremony. Bald Eagle in Flight is the work of artist Todd Andrews. Find more information about Todd Andrews and his commissioned sculptures at www.toddandrewssculpture.com.

Troy Schmidtke, LEED®AP project manager for the eagle statue project and with the Weitz Company, explained the construction of the eagle and base, “Below the eagle are two 8 foot by 8 foot precast concrete foundations. Each weighing 20,000 lbs. These foundations have steel embed plates that were cast into the concrete to allow the two precast concrete pedestals to be connected by a series of welds.”

“The two precast concrete pedestals are a colored concrete with an exposed aggregate finish. Those pedestals also have embed plates welded into them so the base of the eagle could be welded down. After the eagle was set, the frame below the eagle was painted and the landscaping was completed. Each feather of the eagle is made of steel and welded in layers on the frame,” Schmidtke concluded.

Artist Todd Andrews signature from 1980

Artist Todd Andrews signature from 1980

Schmidtke pointed out the exact feather signed by the artist – look for the third feather closest to the body of the eagle on the right side, on the bottom of the wing.

Mike Homa, president of the Mutual of Omaha Bank stated, “The eagle was originally on top of the bank in downtown Lincoln. About 3 years ago the bank relocated and the eagle statue was placed in storage in a Mutual of Omaha storage unit in Blair. Last spring, I sent out an email invitation to several organizations to see if they would be interested in the eagle. And if so, what would they do with it, and how would the eagle have a positive impact on the mission of their organization?”

“There is no doubt in my mind that Camp Eagle is the best home for the eagle, and I hope having the eagle statue here inspires and motivates Scouts and families,” shared Homa.

One of the highlights, and most colorful participant in the dedication ceremony, was Sidney Has No Horses in ceremonial regalia. He is a medicine man for the Oglala Lakota Sioux tribe at Pine Ridge Reservation. He sang and blessed the eagle, and spoke of lessons learned and those to be learned by youth and leaders at Camp Eagle and those gathered.

Medicine Man Blessing the New Eagle

Medicine Man Blessing the New Eagle

While he spoke, Rod Van Horn, a member of NBZ and long-time Scouter, passed smoking sage leaves among the circle of attendees and the eagle statue to purify the statue and members ready to receive the blessing. Four Red-tailed hawks were spotted circling above the eagle statue during the ceremonial blessing in previously empty, blue skies.

NBZ stands for Nani-Ba-Zhu, the honorary camping and service society in the Mid-America Council. Men who entered the program as youth are still passionately dedicated to it today, and work tirelessly to improve the program, membership, and the Mid-America Council Scout camps. Saturday was a regalia building day for NBZ members, and after sunset an NBZ advancement ceremony was conducted around the campfire. Many Scouts and leaders at Camp Cedars for the NBZ weekend walked over to see the eagle statue at Camp Eagle. Read more about NBZ:http://www.mac-bsa.org/camp_nani.aspx.

The Mid-America Council, Boy Scouts of America sincerely thanks Mutual of Omaha, Mutual of Omaha Bank, and Dan Neary, former chairman of the Mid-America Council for their generous donation. And, also thanks the following Eagle project contributors: The Weitz Company; American Concrete Products; Performance Engineering; Mid-America Council Properties Committee Chairman, John Rickert; Project Engineer, Bob Soukup; Project Manager, Troy Schmidtke; Project Lead, Doug Carlson; Jimmy Brasch, Scott Erikson, Steve Kuzelka, Mike Mayne, and Marty Wiedenman.

Read more about the eagle:
Former Lincoln eagle lands at Camp Eagle, thanks to Mutual of Omaha donation:
http://www.omaha.com/money/blog/former-lincoln-eagle-lands-at-camp-eagle-thanks-to-mutual/article

Read more about Todd Andrews and his art works: http://www.toddandrewssculpture.com/sculpture.html

Author and photos – Dixie Wagner, Mid-America Council, Boy Scouts of America

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