Troop 353 Eastchester is blessed to have a wide array of talented young men with diverse interests. And this is best reflected in the breadth of Eagle Scout Leadership Projects our scouts pursue. Many Eagle Scout Leadership Projects entail either a repair job or a form of conversation work. Few Eagle Scout projects, however, have been more visible to the public or more badly needed than the one chosen by Matthew S. Over the years our troop has had a few various Eagle Scout projects within the Twin Lakes County Park, including the removal of invasive vines, the clearing of hiking trails and even the establishment of trail markers.
The entrance to Twin Lakes park at the corner of California Rd and Highland Ave is an exceptionally busy one, with hikers, trail runners, dog walkers, cyclists, and even horse back riders. For many years, the entrance was heavily overgrown with weeds, invasive vines, and littered with trash, as seen in these pictures. And the area frequently flooded during heavy rains, due to the clogged runoff drains nearby. After extensive conversations with the County and local Eastchester authorities, Matthew finally was able to start work in late July (above photo, before) & finished by October (below photo, after). Bug spray during the warm months was imperative as were several outdoor tools and yard gloves. The group of hard-working scouts at this visible intersection did not go un-noticed–indeed at one point a gentleman (a total stranger) stopped by our worksite to drop off a case of bottled water. We quickly learned that the man was a scout when he was younger and, importantly, that the scout’s good deeds were not going unrecognized in the community.
Matthew went above and beyond the call of duty in that he met with Eastchester Town Supervisor Tony Colavita whom arranged to have the nearby drains cleared out and to have a truck load of gravel dropped at the site; he also met with the owner of the local nursery Nature’s Cradle and arranged to secure several free plants and perennials; and he visited with the general manager of the nearby country club to see if there was an old large tree trunks available that could be made into a park bench (as seen at the right).
The planting of the donated plants was done with a great degree of purpose and selection as raised garden beds were created with reinforced sidings and a wooden rail with deep posts was erected in the new garden, parallel to California Rd. These extra efforts required power tools, a generator, the availability of several adults and lots of patience. With a black magic marker, we wrote on the wooden fence: “an Eagle Project by Troop 353 Eastchester”. The troop is hopeful that other scouts from other local troops will carry on a tradition of keeping this popular entrance to Twin Lakes Park well-groomed while maintaining the selected plants and bushes. In the end, Matt’s Eagle Scout project received rave reviews by the many park visitors and an excellent overview in the local press. Eastchester Scouts Complete Twin Lakes Eagle Scout Project, P.6. Other great pictures of his Eagle Project work days can be found here!
Six months later, Matthew S. experienced the highest award ceremony of all, the Eagle Court of Honor, the 23rd Eagle Scout for Troop 353 Eastchester. Not surprisingly, Mr. Colavita was a keynote speaker and reflected on Matthew’s can-do work ethic that was obvious even at a very young age when he coached Matt in Little League baseball. Several other dignitaries were present: Sheila Marcotte (Westchester County Legislator), Luigi Marcoccia (Eastchester Councilman), Stephen Quigley (Tuckahoe Village trustee & T353 committee member–Steve’s son David was Eagle Scout #21), Bob Foster (VFW), Michael Fix (American Legion).
A very special gift was offered by Assistant ScoutMaster & SGM Michael I, on active duty in Afghanistan at that time. He ensured Matthew was presented with a special American flag that had flown on a predator drone on reconnaissance the day Matthew completed his Eagle Board of Review. Similarly, through the office of Congresswoman Nita Lowey, Matthew was presented with a second American flag that had flown over the Capitol building on the day of his Eagle Board of Review. Finally, several Eagle Scouts were in attendance, as could be expected, and each repeated their Eagle Scout Promise with Matthew during his ceremony.
Like all Eagle Scouts before him, Matt has become a very accomplished scouting leader, has held every major youth leadership position, was elected to the Order of the Arrow and attended three high-adventure trips. Troop 353 is blessed to have averaged one Eagle Scout per year since its inception 20 years ago. However, Matt is one of the first Eagle scouts to have completed all requirements at least 6 months before he went off to college SUNY in Cortland, NY. Accordingly, his presence at various scouting events as an Eagle Scout has been very beneficial for the younger scouts in our troop.
Even though less than 4% of all scouts ever attain the rank of Eagle Scout or Life Scout, it is clearly not the ONLY yardstick of success in our troop. Importantly, what the adult leaders of troop 353 are striving to create is a rich and varied program that provides ample opportunities for ALL scouts to learn about the world around them, how to lead others, how to make strong moral and ethical decisions, to serve their community and fellow scouts cheerfully and to lead a healthy life style. Advancement per se is not a goal of the Scouting program. It is along the unique scouting trail, that many, many experiences of a lifetime are created for our boys and I am very sure that Matthew would vouch for the truthfulness of this statement as he reflects back on the richness of his special experience in Scouting! Congratulations to Matthew S., Eagle Scout!