Jaydon Ballman enjoys the outdoors. Whenever he gets the chance, he likes to hike, camp or simply enjoy being outside. His recent completion of a walking bridge at Alcove Spring Historic Park was an effort to provide that enjoyment for others. Ballman said it was a fun but challenging project. The bridge allowed him to achieve the highest rank, the Freedom Award, of the Trail Life USA organization. Ballman is a member of local Trail Life Chapter KS-0007.
He built the bridge with $900 in donations given by businesses and individuals and with help from members of his Troop. He developed a plan for the structure with Troop leader Buster Schmitz and then acquired the necessary materials, including former telephone poles. Installing the poles as the base required a backhoe. He then added the support structure for the middle of the bridge, added cross-planks, and built a handrail to help hikers cross it. The park is crisscrossed by a system of hiking and biking trails. The poles and planks were provided by the Alcove Spring Trust, an organization that oversees the park. Ballman was pleased to see the bridge withstood unusually heavy rains in September. “I hope it lasts a long time so lots of people can use it,” he said.
The project taught him leadership, he said, as he directed younger members of this troop. “When I decided to build the bridge, I didn’t want something easy. I wanted a challenge.”
This is the second bridge built by the Trail Life group at Alcove Spring. Another was built by troop member Tristan Schmitz a few years ago. Ballman is a 2018 Marysville High School graduate and the son of Don and Rose Ballman. He works at Orscheln Farm & Home store in Marysville.
PHOTO CAPTION: Jaydon Ballman, third from left, stands on his Freedom Award bridge project at Alcove Spring Historic Park. Others with Trail Life Chapter 0007 who helped him with the project, back row, from left, Aiden Constable, Ballman, Tommy Bohlken, Chase Downard; front row, Dominic Edwards and Garrett Fincham. Submitted photo