2012-04-27 / Neighbors

Four walls of fun

. Eagle Scout builds a new playhouse for kids at shelter
By Stephanie Guzman
Special to the Acorn


PLACE TO PLAY—Joshua Melton, a 17-year-old Camarillo resident, stands in front of the playhouse he built for the children at the Lighthouse for Women and Children shelter in Oxnard. 
STEPHANIE GUZMAN/Acorn Newspapers PLACE TO PLAY—Joshua Melton, a 17-year-old Camarillo resident, stands in front of the playhouse he built for the children at the Lighthouse for Women and Children shelter in Oxnard. STEPHANIE GUZMAN/Acorn Newspapers Joshua Melton, 17, toured the Lighthouse for Women and Children shelter in Oxnard’s La Colonia neighborhood late last year in hopes of finding a project he could take on to earn his Eagle Scout badge.

The shelter’s volunteer coordinator, Mary Kay Huszar, led the Camarillo teen to the side yard, where children played on a rotting wooden playhouse.

“The shingles were coming off and there were nails sticking out,” Huszar said. “It really was a safety hazard.”

Huszar told the children to get off the structure, and Joshua realized he’d found his Eagle project.

“I thought it would be a fun idea to build a playhouse,” Joshua said. “The original playhouse went up to my waist. It was just a bunch of small pieces of wood, tons of bugs and spider webs.”

Soon enough, the dilapidated playhouse was hauled away, and Joshua got to work on a new playhouse that he built in his backyard with the help of fellow Scouts from Troop 262, chartered by St. Columba’s Episcopal Church.

“We started before Thanksgiving but only worked on it a couple of hours on the weekend,” Joshua said. “Once it was at the shelter, we worked five hours on Saturday and five hours on Sunday.”

Joshua modified playhouse designs he found online. The plans included a porch and windows, and a house tall enough for parents to play inside.

“He wanted the parents and moms to go in there with (their kids),” Huszar said.

Joshua’s father helped him with woodworking and measuring. The building process wasn’t easy, Joshua said, the hardest part being the roof.

“Sometimes it was really frustrating, and it seemed like we had to redo a lot of stuff,” the teen said.

Joshua and his father wanted to make sure the roof wouldn’t leak when it rained.

“My dad is an engineer, and he made sure everything was up to code,” Joshua said with a laugh.

To earn the rank of Eagle Scout, a Scout must write a full description of the project and how it will benefit the community, and plan a budget.

Joshua raised most of the money for the playhouse’s material through a garage sale. Nattie and Kenneth Yoshimoto, an aunt and uncle of a fellow Troop 262 member, donated the rummage sale items, which allowed Joshua to raise about $1,800.

He went over his initial budget, but his dad covered the remaining construction costs.

In January, Joshua and his father trucked the unfinished playhouse from their home to the shelter in Oxnard.

The finished playhouse was unveiled yesterday.

“It was a ton of work, but it was worth it,” Joshua said. “The kids really seem to like it.”

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