TORRANCE — Boy Scout Troop 719, sponsored by Faith United Methodist Church in Torrance, congratulates Ryan Saruwatari, Ryan Mizukami, and Jake Kuwata for attaining the rank of Eagle Scout.
These fine young men were honored for their accomplishments on March 8 in a ceremony at the Ken Nakaoka Memorial Community Center in Gardena.
• Jake Kuwata was born on March 30, 1998 in Woodland Hills to parents Miles and Rouxann Kuwata. Jake has an older brother, Cody “Hawk” (18), who is Troop 719 Eagle Scout #165, and a younger brother, Grant (15), who is a Life Scout with the troop.
Jake and his family live in Agoura Hills. He attended Oak Hills Elementary School and Medea Creek Middle School, and is currently a junior at Oak Park High School. He likes to spend time snowboarding, fishing and playing air soft with his family and friends. He has been involved with the Ukulele Club at Oak Park High School, Mixed Martial Arts, Kizuna Youth CAN and the San Fernando Young Buddhist Association.
Jake has four South Bay cousins who are Eagle Scouts from Troop 719: Scott and Robb Kaneko, and Randy and Ryan Shiozaki. After attending the Troop 719 Eagle Court of Honor for Robb and Randy, Jake’s parents wanted Jake and his brothers to join Boy Scouts and be part of the proud tradition of Troop 719. Jake has two uncles who are Eagle Scouts as well, Kent Kuwata and Scott Aratani, who have always supported Jake on his trail to Eagle.
Jake has gone on many day hikes and long-term hikes with the troop, including hiking to the peak of Mauna Loa on the Big Island of Hawaii, and Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. This year, he led his Scorching Tigers Patrol on a five-day hike covering more than 35 miles through Desolation Wilderness of Lake Tahoe.
The Scorching Tigers Patrol received the troop’s “Awesome Patrol” of the quarter award. Jake received the troop’s “Scout of the Quarter” award and made the Elite 50 Club twice at the annual Invitational Field Day Competition. He has held the positions of quartermaster, troop historian, assistant patrol leader, and patrol leader, and is currently assistant senior patrol leader for the troop.
Jake has attended five different summer camps, including Emerald Bay and Cherry Valley on Catalina Island. When he was 11, he received the Wyatt Earp award for rifle shooting at Camp Whitsett for shooting 10/10 targets. He has earned 42 merit badges and plans to obtain his silver palm.
Jake chose the San Fernando Valley Japanese American Community Center to complete his Eagle Service Project. SFVJACC President Paul Jonokuchi is the father of four Eagle Scout sons and had the perfect idea for Jake’s project — removing four old rotten wooden benches in the community center courtyard and replacing them by building and painting four new benches. The benches are used at the annual Obon Festival and by the Japanese Language School students.
He also repaired a “caution” sign used in the community center parking lot. Thanks to Jake’s eagle advisor, Jerry Takao, and construction advisor, Jerry Tondo, the project was a huge success.
Scouting has taught Jake responsibility, the meaning of dedication and commitment, and how to be a good leader and lead by example. He has learned that with hard work and perseverance, anything is possible, and will use all these lessons to help guide him through life. Jake would like to sincerely thank Troop 719 and all his friends and family who have helped support and encourage him.
• Ryan Tetsuo Mizukami is the third and youngest child of Douglas and Geraldine Mizukami, born on July 18, 1997 at Torrance Memorial Hospital. He has one sister, Kelley (26), who is a Girl Scout Gold Award recipient, and a brother, Gregory (21), who along with his father, are both Eagle Scouts from Troop 719. Ryan lives in Torrance with his family and attended Hickory Elementary School and Madrona Middle School.
He is a senior at Torrance High School and is active in such service clubs as Tartar Knights, Human Relations, and UNICEF. He also enjoys participating in sports and plays basketball for the FOR Lakers, runs cross country (varsity), and is a distance runner for track and field (varsity).
Ryan began scouting at the age of six as a member of Cub Scout Pack 662, Den 4. Cub Scouts introduced him to the wonders and excitement of scouting. In January 2008, at age 10, he earned his Arrow of Light. The following month he joined his brother as a member of Troop 719.
As a 719 scout he has hiked the Eastern High Sierras, hiked and camped in Hawaii and New Mexico. He has experienced many challenging days and nights in the local mountains hiking in the cold, in hot and muggy weather, and in lots of rain. He has gone from the highest elevation in the continental U.S., Mt. Whitney (14,497 ft.) to over 250 feet below sea level in Death Valley.
Throughout Ryan’s years in the troop he has served as librarian, den chief, assistant patrol leader, and patrol leader, and is currently senior patrol leader. In 2013 he was chosen to lead the Mizu Patrol. As a patrol leader, Ryan has learned and developed the qualities of a leader — to be caring, courteous, focused, organized and to set priorities.
Valuable lessons were learned and applied from his former patrol leaders: Matthew Kurashige, Isaac Ide, Grant Arakawa, Austin Kuniyoshi, and Derek Inouye. Scouting has given Ryan the opportunity to make important lifelong friends that have been there to help him with his achievements and accomplishments.
These Boy Scout experiences have laid a foundation for the most challenging part on Ryan’s path to Eagle; the Service and Leadership Project. Ryan performed his project at the Center of Learning Unlimited in Torrance. With the help of his advisors, many fellow scouts and troop families, a new shed was built, an extra plank to the pergola was installed that would act as a backrest, and a stone pathway that leads to the pergola was created. In addition to the pathway, many undesired weeds and other plants were cleared out, and soil amendment was added to several planters. The project, as expressed by the facility director, is one that has positively affected the lives of the students at CLU.
As project leader, he developed confidence and courage to interact, discuss, listen, and lead people. Because of his scouting experiences, Ryan feels he is better prepared for all the challenges and situations that he may have or will face as he develops and matures into a well-rounded young man.
He would like to thank all the past and present members of Troop 719, as well as his friends, for their support and encouragement all these years. He would especially like to thank his family for pushing him along and never giving up on him as he worked to reach Eagle rank. He appreciates the hard work they have put in as well as the time they sacrificed for him. Ryan is now able to join both his father and brother as an Eagle Scout from Troop 719.
• Ryan A. Saruwatari, BSA Troop 719 Eagle Scout #175, was born on July 6, 1996 in Harbor City to parents Janice and Eric Saruwatari. He has a younger sister, Yazmine (12), who is a member of the Girl Scouts. He and his family live in Torrance. Ryan attended First Lutheran Christian School, Hickory Tree Elementary, Madrona Middle School, and Torrance High School, and is currently enrolled at CSU Long Beach.
Ryan enjoys spending time with friends and family, as well as playing basketball and video games. He also likes to build and work with computers, and one day hopes to pursue a career involving both. While growing up, he was involved in karate, Sansei Baseball, basketball, and AYSO soccer.
Ryan began scouting in April 2008 at age 11, when he joined Troop 719, and was a member for six years. During that time he learned many valuable lessons that have served him well as a young adult. Ryan feels lucky to have been a part of so many great patrols. He was a member of the Funky Monkey Patrol when he first joined, then the Honu Patrol, Hamburgaler Patrol, and Sharka Patrol, before becoming the leader the Koopa Troopa Patrol.
Ryan was then a part of the Rising Sons Patrol, where he won “Scout of the Year” in 2013. He ended his scouting career in the Rainbow Warrior Patrol. Over the years he held many positions in the troop, such as historian, chaplain’s aide, assistant patrol leader, patrol leader, instructor, assistant senior patrol leader, and senior patrol leader.
Ryan went on a variety of hikes. Some of the most memorable places he visited were Philmont Boy Scout Camp in New Mexico, Manzanar National Historic Site in California, and the islands of Maui and the Big Island of Hawaii. During his stint with the scouts, Ryan enjoyed attending the various summer camps, such as Forest Lawn, Emerald Bay, and Camp Whitsett.
For his Eagle project, Ryan chose to help the Gardena Valley Japanese Cultural Institute on May 17, 2014, by building new chair and table racks that would make chair and tables more accessible to the members. He also helped the JCI refurbish and organize its janitorial closet to help the janitor keep track of all of his supplies.
With the help of his advisors, James Matsushita and Arnold Kaji, and the support of the entire troop, friends, and family, Ryan was able to make this project a great success. This project allowed Ryan to practice the leadership skills that he had learned while in Boy Scouts.
Ryan received so much love, support, and encouragement from many people, both scouts and scouting parents, and he is grateful because he knows that without all of their help, he would never have been able to accomplish all of the things that he wanted to.
Eagle Scout is the highest rank in scouting. To become an Eagle Scout, a Boy Scout must fulfill requirements in the areas of leadership, service, and outdoor skills. Specific skills and standards must be met to advance through the ranks of Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, and Life. A Boy Scout must earn 13 required merit badges to master essential life and scouting skills, and a minimum of eight additional merit badges in areas of personal interest.
The trail to Eagle culminates with the Eagle Scout candidate demonstrating his leadership by planning and completing a community service project.
Honor, prestige, and pride are characteristics associated with an Eagle Scout. With the latest additions, Boy Scout Troop 719 is proud to have 176 Eagle Scouts.