It’s the end of a long era for Water Commissioner John Thompson


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Story & Photos by Pam Fernald

As I chatted with Water Commissioner John Thompson at the Water/Sewer District Open House, I learned that July 15, 2015 signaled the end of an era for a 20-year long volunteer project for John, his son and his former son-in-law.

John – who is 91 years young – has lived in SeaTac since 1957. He started the picnic table project for the Girl Scouts of Western Washington in 1997 when his daughter’s then boss was looking for a volunteer to help with the project, and John stepped up. John has been cutting boards and drilling holes to make the tables for the Girl Scouts this time of year for the last 20 years and has totally enjoyed it.

In the beginning, the guys made 2 or 3 tables a year. But as lumber costs have risen, they recently have been making just 2 a year. The Girl Scouts paid for the lumber.

It takes John and Company a full weekend to cut and drill up the treated 2 x 6 lumber for the tables. Then the guys deliver the lumber pieces to Salt Water State Park where the girls have Scout Camp. The girls do all of the unloading of the lumber and then assemble the tables. Assembling takes the girls about 2 hours.

John wasn’t sure how many girls participated this year, but said there were a lot… As mentioned, the Scouts provide the funding, John brings hammers and 15 to 20 wrenches. John and Company provide the tools and expertise as they shepherd the girls through the process from unloading the table parts from the truck to assembling the boards into tables. The girls learn how to follow directions and use tools properly.

John has thoroughly enjoyed his time teaching the girls how to assemble the tables saying, “It has been a pleasure to do these projects and watch the little girls learn to work with the tools.”

Over the years John figures his team and the girls have built around 50 picnic tables. These tables are installed at Salt Water Park where the Girl Scouts of Western Washington attend Soundview Day camp every summer. These tables each have a plaque affixed which states: “Built and donated by Girl Scouts Soundview Day Camp,” and then the year the table was built.

I drove out to Saltwater Park to get photos of the tables and was pleasantly surprised to find the girls together, eating lunch, and willing to chat and pose for a photo.

I asked the girls what the best part of building the tables was for them. Following are some of their replies:

“You get to work with friends.”

“I like when you put the nails in and they stay there.”

“Putting the benches together.”

“I like sitting under the table.”

“Eating our super purple cookies at the table.”

John says it would be nice if someone a little younger wanted to take his place with the picnic table project. Let him know if you are interested…


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