MONTVILLE, NJ – Boy Scout Troop 74 of Montville Township held a Court of Honor on Dec. 13, and inducted six Scouts into the ranking of Eagle Scout.
Jonathan Abramson, Daniel Ackaway, Thomas Ackaway, Casey Hojecki, Cameron Poole and Brandon Wong were awarded their Eagle Scout pin and kerchief after years of work and a major community project.
The event included ceremonial elements such as the “Scout Law Candle Ceremony,” the reading of the “Eagle Charge,” “Eagle Challenge,” and “Eagle Pledge,” plus comments from Township officials and Brigadier General Patrick W. Burden, Senior Commander of Picatinny Arsenal.
Former Troop 74 Scoutmaster George Kamper stated, “It has been a pleasure watching you all complete the final stages of your projects.”
Township Mayor Scott Gallopo and Committee Member and soon-to-be sworn-in mayor James Sandham presented the Scouts with plaques announcing resolutions honoring their achievement.
Gallopo stated, “As mayor, these events are my favorite to attend. I love to see the commitment of these young men – and their families. It’s a tough world out there and it’s not getting any easier. When I see Scouts underscoring family values, I have hope. Scouts have a plan, and being a Scout means more than a scarf and a pin. Congratulations on behalf of the Township Committee and a very proud community.”
Sandham stated, “I had the honor of sitting on the Board of Review for one of these Eagle Scouts, and it was truly my honor! At 17 years old, he handled himself extremely well. His answers were well thought out, wise way beyond his years, and deep-rooted in his belief that the Scout Law is not just something to be pulled out every now and then but how you should live your life every day.”
Sandham called the parents of Eagle Scouts and Gold Star Girl Scouts “heroes,” the newly named Eagle Scouts and Gold Star Girl Scouts “new heroes,” and current Boy and Girl Scouts “heroes of the future.”
Montville Township Public School Board of Education Member Michael Palma also spoke at the Court of Honor, stating, “As a BOE member, I am well aware of the skills that a school education provides. Being a Boy Scout teaches valuable skills outside of school.”
Montville Township VFW Post #5481 Commander Charles Ferry stated how proud he was of the Scouts’ achievements, and presented them with plaques honoring each Scout.
Steven Wendowski and Ken Hensley of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of New Jersey presented the Scouts with plaques, and Hensley told them, “We, as adults, are counting on Eagle Scouts to be the next mayor, member of Congress or President.”
Montville Township Historical Society President Kathy Fisher, whose club maintains the Township-owned Henry Doremus Historic Home, which benefited from Scout Casey Hojecki’s project, stated, “Casey was so organized and driven to get the project done. The fence he and his volunteers built is fantastic. It looks very true to the period and really complements the house. Everyone loves it and we get a lot of compliments.”
Brigadier General Patrick W. Burden, Senior Commander of Picatinny Arsenal then spoke.
“As you all know, only a small percentage of young men join the Boy Scouts of America. And of those, less than five percent achieve the rank of Eagle Scout,” he said.
“An Eagle Scout is an exceptional person. A person who is respected for his outstanding contributions to his community. Many of our nation’s greatest leaders are Eagle Scouts – government officials, corporate leaders, astronauts, athletes and Army generals. [When you] say you are an Eagle Scout, society expects more from you.
“Every Eagle develops qualities during this arduous journey – qualities that serve as guides for a lifetime – [such as] self-reliance; trust of self and others; doing things right, and doing to right thing; the importance of honor and personal integrity; and helping others and caring about them.
“Today we officially confer upon you the prestigious and well deserved rank of Eagle Scout, but you have been soaring with the highest, bravest, strongest eagles your entire lives.
“Scouting has had a powerful, positive impact on our country. Think what a better country this would be, if everyone lived the Boy Scout motto: be prepared.
“Think what a better country we would have if everyone lived the Boy Scout oath.
“Our future will be determined by the quality of our leaders. Leadership training starts with youth organizations like Scouting.
“Some may ask, ‘Is Scouting still relevant?’ Absolutely! Does setting goals and achieving them prepare you for adulthood? Yes it does! Congratulations to each of you for becoming an Eagle Scout.”
Jonathan Abramson joked that he had only joined Cub Scouts in first grade because his friend did. He thanked those who worked with him on his project, and said, “Scouting has changed me more than I ever thought it would. The skills I’ve learned apply to school, sports and life.”
Daniel Ackaway thanked the assistant Scout masters for all the great trips and skills he learned. He also thanked his teacher, Mr. Koger, for his support.
“Mr. Koger knew how important my Eagle project was, but also that it was so much more than a project. I’ve learned so many life lessons from my project,” he said. Ackaway also thanked his family for the “life changing advice and comic relief,” he joked.
Thomas Ackaway thanked the many Scouts who worked with him and Sandham. “Being a part of Troop 74 was special and I have many fond memories,” he said.
Casey Hojecki stated that the Scout experience “has been the most influential experience of my life.”
Brandon Wong reminisced about the fun he had on Scouting trips and at Scout camp.
Cameron Poole called Scouting “a rewarding adventure, that gave me a sense of responsibility not just for myself but for others. I joined a brotherhood and received a selfless point of view of the world. I didn’t realize I was changing, though, until I looked back. It’s a privilege to be a part of this community.”
Abramson’s project involved creating an approximately half-mile long trail on Pyramid Mountain, through primarily untouched forest. Abramson’s team rerouted a trail that had previously been mistakenly laid out on private property, and Abramson led the team in removing fallen trees, large rocks and other natural obstacles to make the trail effective yet non-intrusive. He and his volunteers also had to tear down a wooden boardwalk on the abandoned portion of the trail and reuse as much of the materials as possible to build a 16-foot bridge over a stream on the new trail. They also marked the new trail with natural boundaries and painted blue trail markings. According to Abramson, hikers stumbled upon the trail and walked its entirety while everyone was still cleaning up the tools!
Daniel Ackaway’s project was to construct a trailhead kiosk structure at Camp Dawson in Towaco for Montville Township’s Open Space Advisory Committee. A kiosk is a small structure with an overhang that houses a bulletin board for display of trail map signage. The kiosk encloses the bulletin board in a frame with a hinged and locked cover made of Plexiglas, and it protects the maps from the elements, vandalism or unwanted posts. Daniel said he spent many hours of meetings and planning for funding from the Township. On project day Daniel organized six Scouts and five adults to complete the project. He worked for 102 hours on his project, in addition to eight hours on the work-day.
Thomas Ackaway organized a project that created two sport-themed recycling bins at Camp Dawson in Towaco. The purpose is to encourage recycling instead of water bottles being left all over the fields. The intent of a sports goal on the receptacles is to make it a fun challenge for kids to deposit their recycling. To successfully complete the project he led seven Scouts and four adults in the construction on the day of the project, which took eight hours. He spent 110 hours prior to project day planning with the Township and the Recreation Department, arranging funding, and some pre-fabrication and painting.
Hojecki's Eagle Project consisted of the design and installation of a historically accurate fence on the site of the Henry Doremus Historical Home on Route 202 in Towaco. The Montville Historical Society needed a colonial-style split rail fence similar to what would have been on the property when George Washington stayed there. Hojecki met with the Historical Society and prospective donors to present his project and ask for donations. He worked closely with the Historical Society and his beneficiary, Kathy Fisher, to implement the "Buy a Rail" fundraising campaign to raise awareness and funds for the project.
Hojecki researched and acquired the appropriate rails and foundation stones and had all materials delivered to the project site. He met with the Township Engineer to discuss the project and have the property lines marked. Hojecki carefully planned where the fence would “zig-zag" through the trees so that the construction would run smoothly. The fence covers 330 linear feet and was constructed with the help of 19 volunteers.
Hojecki estimates his project took 109 hours’ time from 19 volunteers, of which 56 hours was prep work over 5 weeks prior to the project including research, planning, material selection and fundraising.
The purpose of Cameron’s Eagle Project was to honor Montville Township veterans by enhancing the VFW grounds. Poole’s project included refurbishing the VFW Post sign, reproducing and replacing plaques, beautifying the surrounding grounds with mulching, plantings and installation of a new bench. In addition, he resurfaced and painted the mailbox that is used for the proper disposal of decommissioned flags. Poole organized this event through negotiation with the town on fundraising efforts, material requirements and work plan. He led various shifts of troop members and leaders who volunteered to support this effort. “I’m very proud of the results,” said Poole.
Wong’s “Memorial Beautification Project” involved renovating the existing 9/11 and Pan Am Flight 103 monument located in Montville Township Community Park. The goal was to beautify the Memorial area to honor the victims’ families as well as enhance the common space for all residents to enjoy. Wong led his volunteers in removing old shrubs and mulch and relocating the existing monument to the front of the Memorial circle. A Japanese maple was planted where the monument had been, and the team added topsoil, ground cover plants and fresh mulch. A Township-donated bench was also installed near the site. Brandon also negotiated with Condurso’s, a local nursery, to donate the tree, plants and topsoil. Home Depot donated mulch and other materials. He estimated the project took 124 hours.
To read TAPintoMontville’s coverage of the History of Picatinny Arsenal seminar held at Montville Township Library, click Picatinny.
To read more about Brandon Wong’s project click Brandon Wong
To read about two other Eagle Scouts click Bordonaro/Rycharski
To read about another Eagle Scout click David Champion