Breckenridge Texan

Matthew Wunsch installs safety posts at Hubbard Creek Lake as Eagle Scout project to help prevent drownings

Matthew Wunsch installs safety posts at Hubbard Creek Lake as Eagle Scout project to help prevent drownings
April 21
12:25 2024

By Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan

When 15-year-old Matthew Wunsch set out to plan his Eagle Scout project, it was more than just about earning his Eagle Scout badge; it was about helping save lives. He worked with fellow Scouts, adult Scout leaders, as well as community leaders, to plan and install five life-saving safety posts at the swimming and camping area at Hubbard Creek Reservoir to help prevent drownings.

“So basically, what my aim of this project is … to help cut down on drowning,” he said. “To do that, I’ve included a life ring (aka life preserver) and life rope; in case someone was in danger, they can throw the life ring or life rope to them and pull them back to shore,” he said.

Matthew Wunsch installs one of the safety posts at Hubbard Creek Reservoir, while his sister, Maggie Wunsch, puts reflector tape on the pole. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/ Breckenridge Texan)

However, with the possibility that the flotation devices and ropes could be stolen or lost at some point, Wunsch said there needed to be something more permanent available in case of an emergency. So he attached metal signs with large numbers painted on them at the top of each pole holding the flotation devices.

The safety posts are numbered one through five, indicating their location. They also include GPS coordinates on the sign and a QR code that can be scanned to contact 9-1-1 to report the location in an emergency.

Wunsch also provided local emergency services with a map of the area that has all of the posts’ locations and numbers marked on it, to make it easier for the emergency responders to find the location when they are called.

“That way, if someone was drowning, they could say ‘I’m at post three,’ or four or five, and they’ll (emergency responders) know exactly where they are,” he said. “The reason we’re doing this is because last summer, someone drowned. And if something like this was up, they could have said where they were on the lake. That could have helped save their life.”

Stephens County Sheriff Kevin Roach agrees. He said having a system like the one Wunsch has installed would have been very helpful during the drowning incident last year. “Yeah, that would have been very helpful in that particular scenario because…it took us a few minutes, like 10 or 15 minutes, to find him because we were having to just go from spot to spot and climb down the rocks looking for him,” Roach said.

In addition to installing the stations, Roach said, Wunsch also shared a Google map with them that has the exact locations and GPS coordinates for each of the stations and that he has shared the maps with the emergency dispatchers and other emergency management agencies.

The sheriff said he believes the number system is going to increase their speed of responding. “In the past, when someone called, they would say ‘the rocks,’ or this cove or that cove. Everyone has their own nicknames (for areas of the lake),” he said. With the number system, a caller will be able to tell emergency dispatchers the number on the post, which will lead responders to their exact location.

Scout Matthew Wunsch supplied this map to local first responders to assist them in locating anyone who needs emergency services at the beach area of Hubbard Creek Reservoir. Click the image to enlarge it.

Wunsch said he got the idea for the project while visiting his grandmother in Grand Isle, Louisiana. “My granny owns a house there, and basically, most of the island is just beach. And on that beach, there’s these posts to help in case someone was drowning. That’s sort of where I got the idea,” he said.

Wunsch and his father met with Roach during the planning stages to get the sheriff’s thoughts on the project. “I absolutely think it’s a great idea and encouraged him to move forward and offered any assistance, but he did all that on his own,” Roach said.

In addition to working with the Sheriff’s Office and emergency services, Wunsch also had to get his plan approved by the West Central Texas Municipal Water District, which owns Hubbard Creek Reservoir.

There are now five of the stations located at the park with some in the swimming areas and some in the camping areas. “Whenever we were going out here and choosing locations, we had one person guiding us, and he was describing to us where popular hangout spots were and where people did stuff. And so we were like, OK, so this is where the posts will be useful,” he said.

Wunsch said he hopes that no one will ever have to use the stations, but if they do, he’s glad they’ll be there for them.

When asked what he has gained from working on the project, the Scout said it is a real appreciation for the community.

“A couple of years ago, I was going out there, Scouting, being kind to everyone. But I was trying to figure out what the benefit of doing that was, other than just being kind to others,” he said. “(But when) I was asking for donations and asking people to help with this (project), there were a lot of people that jumped up. And it just gave me a real appreciation for the community here.”

Matthew Wunsch, left, has been in Scouts since he was in first grade. His dad, Matt Wunsch, right, is a Scouts BSA leader. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Wunsch has been in Scouts BSA (formerly known as the Boy Scouts) since first grade when he joined the Cub Scout Pack 81, where his father was the leader. He then advanced to Webelos and eventually became a Scout in Breckenridge Troop 63. He currently holds the rank of Life Scout and will advance to Eagle Scout, the highest rank a Scout can achieve in the organization, once his project is approved. Along the way, he has earned 46 merit badges and membership in the Brotherhood of the Order of the Arrow.

Scouting for Wunsch has been a way for young kids and young people to learn and pick up leadership skills and to help and give back to the community. He said that whether or not young people realize it, the community gives them a lot of activities – and often education – in things like schools. “And so scouting to me, is a way to help give back to the community,” he said.

Matthew’s father, Matt Wunsch, who was a Scout himself when he was a kid, said he has seen Matthew grow through Scouting.

“He’s always been responsible. He’s always been really intelligent. But the thing that I love to see the most is how much it’s drawn him out of his own self,” he said. “Last year he was one of the counselors at one of the Boy Scout camps in Texas. And the boy that I dropped off there, who was nervous and a little bit scared and didn’t know what was going to happen, was not the same man that I picked up a month later. He developed friendships that he still calls all the time. And it drew him out of himself to let the world see what kind of a great kid he is.”


Cutline, top photo: Scout Matthew Wunsch recently installed five safety posts at the beach area of Hubbard Creek Reservoir as part of his Eagle Scout project. Anyone who needs emergency services at the lake can use the numbered posts to help guide emergency responders to their location. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)



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