Newly indoctrinated into the prestigious rank of Eagle Scouts at Venice Japanese Community Center (VJCC) are Ryan Cohen, Alex Ito, Todd Matsumoto, Sean Nakamoto and Gregory Yamaguchi. These young men have dedicated years of commitment to complete the required 21 merit badges, community service projects and outdoor skills requirements, for the top honor in scouting.
Ryan Kiyoshi Cohen
At age 5, Ryan Cohen joined Cub Scout Pack 79 at the Venice Honwanji Buddhist Temple (VHBT), attaining the Arrow of Light Award. In 2001, he bridged over to the Taz Patrol of Boy Scout Troop 764 based at VJCC.
Ryan enjoyed the camaraderie of his patrol members, especially at the Carlsbad Family Campout.
Leadership positions included Librarian, Den Chief, Asst. Sr. Patrol Leader, Patrol Leader, Troop Guide, Troop Instructor, Troop Quartermaster, Asst. Patrol Leader, Sr. Patrol Leader and Jr. Asst. Scoutmaster.
In 2006, he received the Sangha Award for Buddhism.
The most challenging task in scouting was his Eagle Scout project. With the support of the VHBT, Ryan was able to clean out, organize, repair and paint four storage sheds much needed by the temple.
A senior at Culver City High, Ryan is a member of several clubs, including the Calif. Scholastic Federation and Sr. Class Council. This basketballer on the Venice Youth Council Cougars, Thundercats and Westside Athletics teams also coaches the Venice Vipers youth basketball team.
Ryan, son of Marty Cohen and Robyn Shimizu-Cohen, is an active member of the Jr. Young Buddhist Assn. at VHBT and enjoys playing acoustic and electric guitars, computer games, listening to music and hanging out with friends.
Attending college in So. Calif. is his next goal.
Alex Okeya Ito
Alex Ito, son of Royce Ito and Bette Okeya, began his scouting adventure in 1997 upon joining Pack 79 as a Tiger Cub. In 2002, he connected with Troop 764, enjoying Carlsbad family campouts and playing broomball.
Leadership spots held were Historian, Den Chief, Asst. Patrol Leader, Patrol Leader, Troop Guide, Patrol Quartermaster, Troop Instructor, Troop Quartermaster, Asst. Sr. Patrol Leader, Sr. Patrol Leader and Jr. Asst. Scoutmaster.
In May 2006, Alex’s Eagle project at VJCC required his jack-of-all-trades skills. This two-day makeover included cleaning, refinishing and repainting exterior walls, covered walkways, doors and rain gutters of the classroom building, with the help of friends and family.
A senior at Venice High, Alex is a member of Venice High Roller and Ice Hockey teams, Surf and Hockey clubs. Spare time means hanging out at the beach, body boarding and skateboarding.
On the path to making his childhood dream as an artist come true, Alex has clocked intern hours at the Museum of Contemporary Art since fall of 2007. Accolades include being named a 2008 Calif. State Arts Scholar after acceptance into a statewide competition through the Calif. State Summer School of the Arts held at Cal Arts in Valencia. New York’s Pratt Institute is where he’s heading for come fall.
Todd Matsumoto’s scouting journey began in 2000 when he joined Pack 79 as a Webelos. After earning his Arrow of Light award, he bridged into Troop 764’s Taz Patrol.
Leadership skills were developed as Scribe, Pack 79 Den Chief, Asst. Patrol Leader, Patrol Leader, Troop Guide, Troop Instructor, Patrol Quartermaster, Asst. Sr. Patrol Leader, Sr. Patrol Leader and Jr. Asst. Scoutmaster.
In July 2008, Todd carried out his Eagle Scout project at VJCC. Landscape architect work included the rehabilitation and replanting of a parking lot planter box, construction of an external cabinet for the storage room and reorganization of two existing storage cabinets.
Over a seven-year span, Todd accumulated 600 hours of combined community service. This Venice High senior is involved in Recycling Club, Carts for the Homeless, Aloha Club and Best Buddies.
Son of Terry Matsumoto and Jane Shohara Matsumoto, Todd plays hoops for FOR Cheetahs, drums with Faith United Methodist Church band and sings with their youth fellowship group.
Todd gravitates towards working with the underserved community and participated in youth mission trips with Faith UMC. After graduation, he intends to serve in mission and explore college options.
With a camera in tow, he also finds time for surfing and skateboarding.
Sean Ryo Nakamoto
Shortly after the Derek and Gira Nakamoto family moved into the Mar Vista area, son Sean began scouting in 1998 with Cub Scout Pack 79 at VHBT. After attaining Webelos rank, he continued with Troop 764.
Campouts ranked high among memorable experiences but the highlight of Sean’s scouting career was his Eagle project. In April of 2007, he organized and coordinated the removal of an old run down storage gate at VHBT, replacing it with a new hand built one.
Now a Santa Monica College freshman, this avid tennis player at Venice High for three years now trains at UCLA, hoping to get a chance to play collegiate tennis.
In Spring 2010, Sean will be Univ. of Hawaii-bound. Down time is spent with his chowhounds at various food hang-outs.
Gregory Ken Kita Yamaguchi
Gregory Yamaguchi began a scouting career with Cub Scout Pack 79 as a Tiger Cub at the VHBT. After attaining an Arrow of Light award, he bridged over to Boy Scout Troop 764 in 2002.
As a member of the Scorpion Patrol, Greg served as Troop Librarian, Scribe, Den Chief, Asst. Patrol Leader, Patrol Leader, Troop Guide, Troop Instructor, Troop Quartermaster, Asst. Sr. Patrol Leader and Sr. Patrol Leader, and earned the Boy Scout Sangha Award for Buddhism.
In September of 2008, Greg carried out his Eagle project at VHBT. As project manager, he led scouts to clean, remodel and reorganize the temple’s garage storage unit.
Son of Tom and Judy Yamaguchi, Greg is a senior at Venice High and is involved in several service clubs, including Knights and Ladies, Heal the Bay and Aloha Club. This scholar-athlete played on the freshman and sophomore basketball teams, with four years on the golf team.
Being part of Venice Youth Council’s basketball program since first grade, he plays for the Venice Cougars. In 2005, Greg was a member of the Yonsei-12 Basketball Cultural Exchange Program and traveled to Kochi, Japan, not only to shoot hoops, but to learn about his cultural roots, where he developed a taste for katsu curry.
Greg’s future holds studies in mathematics as a prelude to a possible career in teaching.