Adam put together his Eagle project for last weekend. Quite a while ago he got the idea from his grandma to upload pictures of headstones to the website findagrave.com. He put it off for quite a while, then finally decided to get on it.
It really was a great leadership project. We put the lists of names together of those that don't already have headstone pictures, and thought through how it would work best and be the most effective. The day before, Adam, Melanie, and I went and did a trial run down one row and got a few more ideas on how we could tweak a few things.
Our local cemetery isn't that big, but even with all those that came, it took about an hour and a half to get all the pictures. He put everyone in pairs, and one person would check the list to see if that headstone was on the list, and the other person took the pictures.
Adam's main responsibility there was assigning where teams were going and answering questions. He was never part of any of the teams that day (though he had plenty of opportunities both before and after the big project day to do that).
When all the pictures were taken, we headed back to our house, uploaded all the pictures to one computer, then got the uploading to Find A Grave command center going. We had four computers uploading like crazy.
The next day Adam, Melanie, and I went and took retakes (we figured between service and family history, it was a worthy Sunday activity). That evening we got pictures that we hadn't gotten yet, and ended up with ore retakes the next morning.
When we printed out the first list of people there were 315 names on it. When we decided his project was "done" (after 90 hours of service) it had 75 names left. We would love to have it down to 0, and that's still the plan, but those last 75 are apparently going to be a lot harder and will involve a lot more searching. Granted, some may have been missed in the initial searches, but we're still on the first page of the 75 and we've discovered that two of them don't have headstones and one that I don't think is even really buried there. For those without headstones, we can at least take pictures of the area to upload, but we didn't have any way to know that in the initial run. Our city doesn't have a cemetery map, so I've been using the website NamesInStone.com to find where they're buried. Using their map zoomed way out, I used Print Screen to create my own map, and here and there we're mapping where the rest of those people are, searching for their location individually on Names In Stone, then zooming back out enough to be able to see where they are. Eventually we can go over and finish it off.
A few things we would have done differently that we didn't think of before the big day:
- Instruct that if it's a two person headstone, still take a picture of the whole headstone. We had two teams that didn't realize that. Retakes!
- Check the picture size on everyone's cameras. Some of the cameras we could upload without a problem, but if the file sizes were too big, we had to edit them down (extra step, extra time). Some of the pictures were ultra small, so when we were editing to make them bigger, some of the pictures were entirely unreadable, or just shoddy looking enough that we wouldn't want to put his name on it. Retakes!
Overall, it was an incredible experience.
Not just watching my amazing son take this project over and run with it - because I already knew he was amazing. I get to see that all the time.
But also having my testimony strengthened with experiences over and over that there are people out there wanting to be found.
For instance . . .
- We took a retake picture for someone with a unique grave marker and name. After that group had been added, I was working on some other names later and noticed the woman's name still on our "to be taken" list. I went back to that group of pictures to get it added, and in doing the search I noticed she was the only one with that last name listed, but she was buried with her husband. After more searches to make sure I wasn't duplicating, I got him added him to the website. I went through all the other pictures in the picture group, and that was the only picture that had been missed. I asked Melanie about it (she had worked on uploading that group), and she told me she remembered looking at and uploading that picture.
- After retakes on Monday, we got home and were adding them in. Keep in mind, this is our 3rd retakes trip, and our list was far more specific at this point. Melanie got to a picture that wasn't listed on our new "no headstone picture," so she looked to see if he was a retake that we had had uploaded but wanted a nicer one. Again, no listing on the website at all. We got him added, and uploaded his picture. (By this time Adam told me I was getting to spiritual freak out mode, but really, why did we take that picture??!!?!)
- Also that Monday there was another that needed a retake, but we didn't know where it was in the cemetery. I had walked up the row they were on (husband and wife) but missed it somehow. From the first picture I had jotted the pictures that were on it since it was pretty unique (a truck, a temple, and a woman playing ring around the rosie), but didn't note the name. We wandered and wandered the cemetery looking for them, and Adam finally found it on that first row I'd been on. Got the pictures home, and again, no listing for them. I wouldn't have gone for a retake if I hadn't seen the first picture and written it down. Why did that first picture get taken?
I can't in any way logically explain why all these random pictures were taken. The teams all had a list to check and then take a picture if their name was on it. No pictures were taken that already had a picture uploaded for that person. Every not-on-the-list picture was someone that needed to be added to Find A Grave.
Like I said, an incredible experience. And a lot of fun, especially with all the great people involved. I was very grateful to those that showed up and supported Adam in his project. And thankful to scouting for helping to build boys in this way.