Sean Drexler had his eyes on the future Sunday morning when he led the production of a leave-no-trace campsite at River Road Park in Kankakee.
The 16-year-old Eagle Scout candidate from Manteno wanted to promote the Kankakee River's national water trail status and did so by establishing the trail's first leave-no-trace campground in Illinois.
"We need these types of campsites," Drexler said. "I just wanted to help out with something that my children will eventually be able to enjoy."
Drexler started scouting 10 years ago and has been a member of St. George Troop 319 the past five years. He managed 22 Boy Scouts and adults on Sunday as he pursued scouting's highest honor. That involved making a tent pad, fire pit, gear pole and clearing some debris.
In doing so, he left his father, John, who is Troop 319's assistant scout master, speechless.
"Word's can't describe how proud I am of Sean," John Drexler said. "I was in scouting myself, but I never finished Eagle. I was very close.
"It's amazing to see a bunch of boys and adults work together to help a young man fulfill his dream. It's incredible."
With a beachy area, the campsite is accessible to canoers and kayakers. It includes a tent pad, fire pit and gear pole. It's the first of three leave-no-trace campsites planed for River Road Park.
Leave-no-trace campsites require users to dispose of waste, leave what they find, minimize campfire impact and respect wildlife. There are tentative plans to add more of these sites in Kankakee County as the water trail ages.
"Sites like this are going to make the Kankakee River more of an outdoors destination," said Mike Casagrande, Drexler's Eagle Scout project mentor. "It's really exciting to have one now."
In addition to his project, Drexler said he hopes to have Boy Scouts preserve these campsites.
"This was something that fascinating me as I considered what I wanted my Eagle Scout project to be," Drexler said. "I think it's important that local people see what's happening along the river and what the area has to offer outdoors. I can't wait to see what it looks like years from now."