Boy Scout’s video of Paoli … Hometown challenges as seen by our children!

Down around the corner
A half a mile from here
You can see them long trains run
And you watch them disappear
Without love
Where would you be now
Without love . . .

   ~ “Long Train Running”, Doobie Brothers

“Long Train Running” is a song written by musician Tom Johnston and recorded by The Doobie Brothers in 1973.  Four decades later, the song provides the background music for a special video produced by a  talented 12-year old township resident.  A seventh grader at Valley Forge Middle School, Michael Pacca is the son of Bob and Tara Pacca and lives in Paoli.

Michael is a Boy Scout and a member of Paoli Troop 1; one of the oldest Boy Scout troops in the United States and the oldest continuously active troop.  Originally founded in 1911, out of the Church of the Good Samaritan in Paoli, the troop has since moved to 20 acres in Wayne.

As one of the steps to becoming an Eagle Scout, Michael worked on his Citizen in the Community merit badge.  The final of eight requirements for this merit badge, Michael needed to:

“Develop a public presentation (such as a video, slide show, speech, digital presentation, or photo exhibit) about important and unique aspects of your community. Include information about the history, cultures, and ethnic groups of your community; its best features and popular places where people gather; and the challenges it faces. Stage your presentation in front of your merit badge counselor or a group, such as your patrol or a class at school.”

Boy Scout merit badges give scouts the opportunity to investigate around 120 different areas of knowledge and skills. The merit badge program plays a major role in the scouting advancement program and participation can begin as soon as a scout registers with a troop. Each scout can explore topics from American Business to Woodworking as he has interest. To reach Eagle rank, a scout must complete at least 21 Boy Scout merit badges listing them in his handbook, 12 of which come from the Eagle-required badge list – the Citizen in the Community merit badge is on the required list.

To fulfill the Citizen in the Community merit badge requirement, Michael created a video about his hometown – Paoli.  Michael spent several hours taking photos of Paoli and the surrounding area, and then created a video with the music ‘Long Train Running’ as the backdrop. After watching the video several times, it is clear that Michael not only accomplished the assignment but also far exceeded the requirements in level of quality and creativity.

Michael’s video is important on a number of levels; it highlights the talents of a creative young mind and fulfills a requirement for a wonderful organization, Boy Scouts of America.  However, beyond that, this is a video that I encourage everyone to watch.  It may be only four minutes long but as the music fades out, there is such poignancy to the photos as seen through the lens of young man’s camera.

The condition of the train station and the vacant storefronts do not escape the eyes of our children . . . this is their hometown.

I was struck how Michael accurately captured the “challenges that the community faces” in his video. When asked what he thought was the ‘greatest’ challenge facing Paoli, his response, the “train station”.   What businesses would Michael like to see filling the empty storefronts along Paoli’s Lancaster Avenue – a movie theater and an ice cream store! A 12-year old response but an answer that many of us could agree with.

A budding movie maker and a talented musician, Michael chose the Doobie Brothers background music himself, thinking that the ‘Long Train Coming’ song just suited Paoli and its train station.

I was overwhelmed by Michael’s photography skills … the depth in the images and a gift for composition and perspective that truly belies his young age.  In fact, I was so impressed by his talents that I signed him up as one of the official Paoli Blues Fest photographers – he then tells me that he can create a blues fest video from the photos!  What a great kid!

Michael plans to continue making movies – he and his friends have future ideas for making other videos, including scripts, costumes, props, and sound effects. Based on this and other videos that I have seen by Michael, all I can say is Steven Spielberg had better watch out!

Michael Pacca of Paoli, PA – video click here.

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