SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- Luke Checchio, a BSA Troop 104 Life Scout walking the trail towards Eagle, has been recognized by the local scouting community for his contributions to scouting both in the present and future.

A Scotch Plains native, Checchio has received the James E. West Fellowship Award, named for the First Chief Scout Executive. The award recognizes one's commitment to ensuring the future of Scouting in the local Council, accompanied by a gift of $1,000 to the Council Endowment Fund.

Checchio has been working hard over the last three years to grow the troop and share the wonders of scouting with those around him and says he remembers being shocked to hear his name called for the award yet very satisfied at the same time.

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“Initially, I was in disbelief. I still remember seeing some of my Scouting role models receive this award in years past and it was almost surreal to learn that I was being recognized in the same light as them,” said Checchio. “Getting this recognition was very satisfying.”

Seeing his friends and role models earn this award previously is a big reason why Checchio is so elated about his honor, he says it has given him the perspective to take a step back and reflect on all the work he has put in over his time in Scouting in order to recognize his accomplishments as an individual. He says the award motivated him to work even harder to be a guiding force for younger Scouts, just as those who came before him.

“This award was one I have seen some of my closest friends and role models earn in the past, and being awarded it still does not feel real. Receiving it has helped me to take a bird's-eye view and recognize the work I have done to ensure the future of Scouting,” Checchio told TAPintoSPF.

There is a saying “give back to Scouting, more than it has given to you” that is read at an Eagle Scout ceremony. Checchio feels he has received so much from scouting as it has prepared him to be a upstanding citizen and a responsible adult.

“I would be lying if I claimed I have given more to Scouting than it has to me. I feel as though Scouting has thoroughly prepared me to be a competent and responsible contributor to society in my future years,” Checchio said. "It also served an integral role in keeping me focused throughout all of my schooling, especially high school, and has brought me to realize my dreams as I will be attending Duke University this fall."

The high school senior hopes that the enthusiasm he has carried with him for Scouting is passed on to future generations of scouts in hopes that the organization can continue to impact the lives of young men everywhere.

“The greatest contribution I can say I have made towards Scouting would definitely be within Troop 104, where I always did my best to engage the younger scouts and get them excited about what Scouting can do for them,” Checchio said. "I can only hope that they pass on this enthusiasm to the next generation of Scouts, just as the Scouts who came before me did."

Checchio says he will reflect on his Scouting experience with fond memories of how BSA has made him into the incredible young man he is today.

“It has definitely inspired me to be more active in my work going forward, seeing all the progress that can be achieved by putting in seemingly insignificant amounts of time. Over the course of a couple of years, this work really adds up and can have a huge ripple effect,” he said.

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