Scouting, volunteering add up to smooth sailing for Br. Rice junior
BY CHERYL DANGEL BARTOLINI Correspondent August 24, 2012 2:32PM
Zach Pakula, who has logged 288 hours of community service at the Boy Scout camp he attended for four years poses at Brother Rice High School in Chicago, Il on Wednesday April 25, 2012. He loves sailing and sails competitively for Brother Rice and the Columbia Yacht Club in Chicago. He teaches campers how to swim and sail as a way of giving back what he was taught. He wants to get into the Coast Guard or Naval Academy. | Matt Marton~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 28, 2012 6:00AM
An accomplished swimmer and sailor, Zach Pakula usually spends summer vacations working at a scout camp helping kids learn those skills.
It is a job that the Brother Rice High School junior has done without pay for two years. The enjoyment Pakula, 16, gets from helping kids ages 12 to 18 learn new skills is his reward.
“It is a fun job, and I get to meet a lot of people and help all these kids advance through the ranks,” he said.
Giving back is what Pakula does. By the time he wrapped up his sophomore year, he had logged 288 hours of community service through his work with the Boy Scouts. A Boy Scout himself, Pakula sees volunteering as his duty.
“I’m basically paying back for what I received as a Scout. I am returning the favor of what I got from everyone else who taught me,” he said.
As a Scout, he attended Owasippe Scout Reservation — America’s oldest Boy Scout camp in continuous operation — in Blue Lake Township, Mich., for four summers before volunteering as a staff member for two years.
This summer, Pakula skipped the camp, hoping to sail competitively in the annual Chicago-to-Mackinac Island yacht race. Unfortunately, Pakula wasn’t able to secure a crew, and his dreams sank.
He still gets out on the water whenever he can and sails competitively for Brother Rice as well as the Columbia Yacht Club in Chicago.
Pakula also likes to perform random acts of kindness throughout his Mount Greenwood community, including mowing lawns and shoveling snow for neighbors.
Pakula said his parents, Rick and Kim Pakula, are his mentors.
“They make sure I’m doing my best and apply myself at school and make the right decisions and do what I can to make my life better and easier,” he said.
He credits his teachers and friends for much of his success in both high school and scouting, where he has obtained the rank of Eagle Scout.
After high school, Pakula would like to attend the U.S. Coast Guard Academy or U.S. Naval Academy. He wants to pursue a degree in marine engineering or marine architecture.
Though he is just starting his junior year, he is focused on his post-high school goals.
“I know how hard it is and how competitive it can be to get into the Coast Guard or Navy, so I need to focus on my grades and what I want to succeed in,” he said. “I always strive to be the best. I want to make sure that I don’t fail my goals. I want to accomplish everything I put my efforts toward.”
Meanwhile, he’ll enjoy his remaining time at Brother Rice.
“Brother Rice is a great school and it made me what I am. Without it, I wouldn’t have had the opportunities I’ve had,” he said.