Area Teen Constructs Shed for Teen Charity with Skills Learned at CV Tech

Canadian Valley Technology Center Construction Trades student John Benson used the skills he has acquired to build a storage shed for a local charity. The project is part of Benson’s application for the Freedom Award, which is Trail Life USA’s highest honor.

John Benson

December 7, 2017

EL RENO – John Benson could barely lift his arms at night. Fourteen-hour work days seemed to run together.

Constant bending, lifting, cutting and carrying 2-by-4 boards was taking its toll.

Somehow, he persevered and kept returning each day to the job site.

Benson, 17, was committed to a promise he made to a local charity. He would build a 12-foot by 16-foot storage building in four weeks and charge the charity nothing.

Benson is a home school high school junior who lives near Mustang. He enrolled in the Construction Trades program at Canadian Valley Technology Center with the work project in mind.

Scouting is a big deal for Benson. Formerly involved in Boy Scouts of America, he switched scouting affiliations a couple years ago to Trail Life USA.

Now all that stands between him and Trail Life’s highest honor is verification of a servant leadership project.

The Freedom Award is the Trail Life equivalent to Eagle Scout (scouting’s highest achievement). Benson must submit a report detailing how he planned, fund-raised and then built a service project.

Founded in 2013, Trail Life is a faith-based alternative scouting organization for more than 26,000 boys nationwide. Similar to Boy Scouts, achievement badges and awards may be earned for rank advancement.

The 192-square foot storage building was built on site at House of Healing for the Teenage Soul Inc., a non-profit charity located near Britton and Banner roads, strives to equip teen girls to reach their full potential through care and mentoring.

Benson said project costs were under $3,000, because he negotiated with area businesses for discounted goods and services.

He credits the skills he has learned in a short time at CV Tech. The first project undertaken each year by new students is the construction of a deer blind that can be easily taken apart and placed in a pickup bed for transport.

“I just took what I learned making the deer blind and then made it bigger (for the storage building),” he said. “The reason I took this class is that I like making cool stuff with my hands.

“I also like math, and this is the simple math -- math that will be useful my whole life.”

Benson initially showed interest in CV Tech’s Accounting and Business Education program, but enrollment was maxed. Construction Trades seemed like a good alternative, Benson said.

As a result, he has shifted his career focus.

“I definitely want a career in construction now,” he said. “My belief is that this was God-ordained. I worked 14-hour days through much of November, but I can do that being home schooled. My family viewed this project as part of my education.”

Each framed wall stud in the storage building is 16 inches on center, meaning the center of each wall stud is 16 inches apart from the next one.  

 “It’s a solid building,” he said. “You could insulate it, wire it and live in it if you wanted.”

Fundraising went fairly quickly, he said, though it took longer to raise the money than to complete construction. The building features two windows, a locking door and a garage-style door. Benson and his father, Michael, also laid a 50-foot rock paver pathway near the building.

“My first plan was to go house to house,” Benson said. “Freddy’s (Frozen Custard, of Mustang) was a big help, because they allowed me to stand out front and raise money for the project.

“I also asked people at church. I put flyers all over the Mustang area. I also raised some money at Johnny’s Charcoal Broiler (in Yukon). And then I still went door to door.”

Lowes Home Improvement of Mustang discounted a significant amount of building materials to assist with the project.

Benson said leftover proceeds will be given to the charity, but he does not expect that to be a significant amount since House of Healing has requested that he build some interior shelving.

Both All-American Garage Doors and Rowan Construction discounted services. Dolese discounted concrete used for the foundation.

Benson said the completed project has brought a considerable amount of personal satisfaction. House of Healing even wants to do a building dedication on Dec. 17.

“I learned a lot and was able to use my skills from Construction Trades,” he said.