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. Alcove Spring Trust provided planks and used telephone poles for construction.
Installation of the pillars to form the support structure of the bridge required the use of a backhoe. Jaydon oversaw the installation, then led his team to add the long poles for the middle of the bridge, lay the cross-planks, and build a handrail to help hikers traverse safely. The park is crisscrossed by a system of hiking and biking trails. 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.
Jaydon commented that directing adult volunteers and younger members of the Troop taught him leadership. The task proved to be a significant challenge. That is not something this young man was prone to shy away from. He says, “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.
Story Update: As a final stamp on his Freedom Project, the community rallied around Jaydon to help find a rock, blast it, paint it, and get it planted by the bridge as a marker to commemorate the effort of Jaydon, his Trail Life Troop, and the community.
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