Boy Scouts of America Troop 121 had an active and successful 2019. Not only did we have our monthly campouts and skills development meets, we also had many service projects that we delivered on throughout the year that serve the communities at large that we live in.

Troop 121 had five scouts who achieved the highest award bestowed by the Boys Scouts of America, the Eagle Scout Award in 2019. These Eagle Scouts chose projects ranging from preserving our environment to helping handicapped neighbors enjoy nature to providing literary stimulation to younger children.

Matthew Doherty chose to help reforest white cedar trees on the grounds of the New Jersey Audubon Society in Bernardsville, NJ.  The trees had been cleared by General George Washington’s troops during the American Revolution for housing and supplies.  The deforestation disrupted the ecological balance of the area for centuries.  By organizing a group of volunteers to plant over 70 trees, Matthew’s project will benefit the environment by attracting native bird species such as cedar waxwings, turtles, frogs and establishing a stable shoreline close to the river through the root structure of the new forest.

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Sam Ellis chose to make and stock a Little Lending Library placed near the soccer fields at Shunpike Park.  This library serves the younger children using the park as well as those that are taken there to watch siblings play games and matches. Sam was fully aware of how his sister had hated watching his soccer matches and how a playground only held a short period of respite, whereas a book kept her entertained for hours.  He hopes that this small library will instill a love of reading in more children as time goes by.  Sam recruited a small number of volunteers to help him build, paint and finally, when the ground was no longer frozen, install the library with some brute force digging in April 2019!  He utilized the scout troop for book donations as well as the greater Chatham community, who have rallied behind the project and are also helping him to maintain and keep it stocked with books.  It has been a great success and Sam has received many enthusiastic and thankful comments from the public.

Mihir Rao chose to build an ADA-compliant pathway at the New Jersey Audubon Society in Bernardsville, NJ so that wheelchair bound patrons could enjoy nature and work on the planters (another Eagle project from the Troop see below) like everyone else. The project involved identifying funding through a grant at the NJ Audubon Society, ordering heavy materials from multiple vendors and building the pathway in just two days. He organized and successfully completed this project with the help of many volunteers from the Troop in June 2019. Mihir’s goal with his Eagle project was to do something that would be helpful to others and meaningful for the community. His project achieved both of these goals and will be used by many patrons in the years to come!

Henry Gallagher chose to build three raised garden beds (planters) for the handicapped at the New Jersey Audubon Society in Bernardsville, NJ. This project filled a meaningful need in the community and represented a unique design challenge. These garden beds allow handicapped people of all ages and backgrounds, such as students, summer campers and retirees, to have access to gardening again. Henry specifically designed the planters to utilize recycled materials, fit the space, fit in aesthetically and accommodate a wide range of wheelchairs correctly. The project represented the collaboration of many people, including landscape designers, gardeners, construction material vendors and the help of many volunteers from Troop 121. With a true team effort, they were able to construct the planters in early June and install them in one day. So far, the feedback on the project has been heartwarming.

The project Brian Becker decided to do was at the Chatham Community Garden in Chatham Borough. The Chatham Community garden is a gated organic garden for the benefit of residents of both the Borough and Township. It is a place where gardeners can come together to grow and maintain their own crops in their respective plots.  The project involved working with the Chatham Community Garden Committee and gardeners to have borders built around gardeners’ existing plots. The installation involved constructing non-treated wood borders attached by brackets around 20 gardeners’ plots and some repairs on existing borders.  The border size depended on the size of the gardener’s plot and any special requests made.  The borders are an impactful addition to the garden as it aids to prevent the spread of weeds and disease between plots. Additionally, as the borders were measured out, gardeners know exactly where the boundaries are and crops should be grown.  In addition to the borders, existing picnic benches and tabletops, which were damaged and need of repair, were sanded and stained to prevent further weather damage. These tables will be used by the gardeners to relax in between gardening and at occasional gardeners' get-togethers.

If these stories inspire your son and he is interested in developing outdoor and life skills, leadership skills and wants to serve the community we live in, we ask that you attend one of our meetings. Troop 121 meets at the Presbyterian Church of Chatham Township from 7:30-9:00 PM every Monday when school is in session. We welcome boys 11-17 years of age to join us.