MONMOUTH JUNCTION, NJ - Hundreds of regional Boy Scouts earned a variety of merit badges at an annual fair held at Crossroads North Middle School on George’s Road Saturday.The variety of merit badges for the Boy Scouts to earn included Journalism, Art, and Robotics.  Scouts came from around the region, such as Long Island and Westchester in New York, and are vying to reach the prestigious rank of Eagle.

In scouting, there are 21 merit badges required to reach Eagle, including First Aid, Citizenship in the Community, Citizenship in the Nation, Citizenship in the World, Communication, Cooking, Personal Fitness, Emergency Preparedness or Lifesaving, Environmental Science or Sustainability, Personal Management, Swimming or Hiking or Biking, and Family Life.  

The counselors came from varieties of areas and jobs to teach the scouts, and were all volunteers who want to help the scouts get through their journey.  

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According to Scout Leader Wendy Weiss, the event had 450 scouts participating this year, which is above average.

She said the Monmouth Council has held this event for more than 10 years.  

The Painting Merit Badge, led by counselor Terri Hartel of Troop 54, aimed to teach students about proper painting techniques.

Hartel, a single mother, also teaches Family Life and Art.

She said she got into scouting while looking for an activity for her son.

Hartel said she does painting because her family owns a paint business, and she used to paint after getting home from college for the summer.,

One of the scouts participating in the class, Andrew Sharples, said he learned things such as how to prime a door or window before painting it, and how to use a roller.

Sharples, of Troop 3, said he found the class to be very fun.

One group worked toward completing the Robotics Merit Badge.

Among the requirements for the badge , the scouts bad to build and program Lego Robots and have then accomplish tasks.

Students in the class were starting to work on their robots and were discussing their plans.

One of the volunteers, Adit Sinha, is not a scout but chose to come out today and help run the merit badge class for several hours.

Robotics is cool, I like new tech stuff, and programming which is why I'm here along with volunteering hours,” Sinha said.

After about 40 minutes, two teams had formed and produced functioning robots that would be able to complete a series of challenges.
A car robot ran off of preprogrammed behavior and moved around, as the students worked loudly in a class that was filled with loads of people and supplies.
Scout Kamil Arif was working on his team’s robot and is an eighth grader of Troop 114 that enrolls in k-12 online school, he is very interested in robotics which is why he said he is taking the merit badge.
The merit badge counselor was busy working with both teams and unfortunately could not spare some time to be interviewed.The automotive maintenance merit badge is a great class to learn skills that you can use in real life.Every year, hundreds of scouts take this badge and come out of the classroom with more knowledge than when they went in.

For example, students learn how to change oil filters, putting oil in the car, the safety hazards regarding this field and even popping the hood of the car.

This class, led by Tim Simmonds, a graduate from a vocational school who specialized in automotive maintenance, recommends it for all scouts.

“This badge even helps you in real life, and it's much cheaper to do it yourself than paying others for the job,” he said.

Even students who took this class would recommend it.

Matt Voss, a Boy Scout found the class to be a “great experience.”

Overall, the automotive maintenance merit badge was a fun class and everyone who participated learned a lot that day.

As Eddie Reeves taught electronics merit badge, we asked the scouts in the class why they took the merit badge and what they learned so far.

Most of them said that they wanted a future in engineering, and thought it was intriguing and interesting.

They said that they learned about many of the jobs such as design engineers and technicians.

Also, they said that they learned about the evolution of technology and how now electronics are disposable and cheap.

Therefore,, you can throw them away and get a new one. 

Reeves said that as a young child he was interested in fixing broken toy parts.

He said he  took apart a lot of toys which lead to him taking apart bigger objects and experimenting more on how to make it better.

Boy Scouts John Strucke, Dylan Ricart, Aiden Brennan, Aidan Martin, Amay Shenoy, Patrick Killmurray, David Lukes, Julian Martin, Jack Woods, Robert Bakal, Vaideesh Swaminathan, Liam Stemetzki, Andrew Dacuba, and Dennis Mikhaylov contributed to this report.