CALDWELL, NJ — Four local young men were joined by family, friends, fellow troop members and members of the community on Sunday at Saint Aloysius Church in Caldwell as they were recognized for achieving the highest and most coveted rank in scouting: the rank of Eagle Scout. The Eagle Scout recipients celebrated were Thomas Caracappa, Steven Ferrarese, Ian Robson and Christopher Vega.

The ceremony recognized the four young men’s accomplishments over the past seven years. Troop leaders highlighted their Trail to Eagle, leadership positions, camping highlights, high adventure trips, awards, merit badges earned and their Eagle Scouts project.

Eagle Scouts must earn at least 21 merit badges, hold a leadership position within the troop, participate in a community service projects and organize and lead individual Eagle Scout projects. Less than 5 percent of all scouts earn the rank of Eagle Scout, according to the troop leaders.

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Caracappa, a high school senior, explained what this achievement meant to him.

“It’s been a big part of my life,” said Caracappa, who is heading to Rutgers in the fall. “It gave me a routine, it enabled me to meet people, to be active and accomplished.  Everything I worked for lead up to this.”

Vega, who will be moving to Europe to study chemical engineering, said his advice to other scouts moving up the ranks is, “Don’t leave anything half done.” 

“This now means I can share my experiences with everyone,” said Vega. “I can lead others, friends and family.”

Robson, a junior at Saint Peter’s Preparatory School, recommended that young scouts start early and “knock out the hard merit badges first.”

“It’s the end of a long journey,” said Robson. “I pushed through and came out the other side and now I am a better person because of it.  The friends I made was the best thing I got out of it.”

Ferrarese, a sophomore at the University of Maine, said his advice to young scouts is to “take action” and “do something.”

“Take any opportunity you may have because you never know where it will lead,” he said.

Gunnery Sgt. Mario Monaco of the US Marine Corps presented certificates of appreciation to each of the men. A special award went to Vega for his Eagle Project supporting Operation Jersey Cares, as Monaco was the military liaison for the organization.

“They raised the bar, more is expected of them, this title follows them,” said Monaco, who explained that if an Eagle Scout enters the military, he automatically advances one rank.

West Caldwell Township Councilman Joseph Cecere thanked the scouts for their dedication to the community stating that scouting “provides a foundation to prepare youth for the leadership of tomorrow.”

“There’s only one person that can stop you from achieving your goals, and that’s you,” said Bill Brady from American Legion of Essex County.  “So dream big and aim for the starts.”

All Eagle Scouts in the audience were invited to sit in the “Eagles Nest“ to observe the ceremony, and were the first to congratulate the new Eagle Scouts.  The Knights of Columbus also attended to congratulate the new scouts on this milestone.

Scoutmaster Ron Burgers concluded the ceremony with his scoutmaster minute, reaffirming the expectation for the four new Eagle Scouts as they move on to college and beyond.