Darien’s Troop 53 recently celebrated the achievements of seven new Eagle Scouts. This continues a long tradition of local Boy Scout Troops 35 and 53 providing services to town residents, working on infrastructure projects in Darien and demonstrating the leadership qualities of our young men. There have been over two hundred Eagle projects by Troop 53 and many more by Troop 35 and other historical troops over the 100 years that Darien has been home to Scouting.
This December and January, a very large contingent of seven young men celebrated the completion of their Eagle projects. The sheer number of projects and the quality of the work demonstrate the dedication of all the boys serving in Scouts. It takes an entire troop, dozens of Scouts and many of their parents to see an Eagle Project through from the planning state to the execution phase and to the final Board of Review.
The Eagle Project planned and completed by Thomas Paul consisted of leading over 30 Scouts and adults to paint a geographically precise playground map of the fifty states at Hindley School, a large, colorful and instructive playground feature for Darien students. Tommy also presented the teachers with a pamphlet of educational games which they could play with the students while teaching geography. This undertaking was sponsored by the Darien Board of Education.
Stefan Schneider formulated a plan to build an outdoor classroom in the center of Woodland Park in order to increase community awareness of the outdoors. Working with Darien Parks and Recreation, friends and fellow Scouts and scouters, Stefan leveled the land, built a boundary wall around the site, installed two large picnic tables that he put together from treated wood, and set up an education sign board. He hopes that the new outdoor facility will attract not only Boy Scouts but also Pack Scouts, as well as other school students and community organizations.
SoundWaters, located at Cove Island Park in Stamford, provides sailing experiences to all local students irrespective of financial ability. James Paul recognized the importance of knowledge about, and access to, educational enrichment and the benefits of Long Island Sound. Jamie and his friends built two new boat racks to accommodate eight new boats donated to the organization. The racks were constructed with the children’s height in mind so that young sailors could be responsible for the boats on and off the water.
Given Thomas Hall’s love of nature, it was not surprising that his Eagle Project would focus on helping the environment. Under the sponsorship of the Darien Beautification Committee and Troop 35 committee chairman Sabina Harris, Thomas led a group of Scouts, friends and adult scouters from both Darien troops to create a butterfly garden, located at the railroad berm near Leroy Avenue. The first phase involved clearing the land of overgrown weeds, bushes and small trees. During the second phase, the group planted the seeds, flowers and bushes that Thomas had identified as ideally suited to attract butterflies and to add to the enjoyment of commuters and others passing by the train station.
Since a young age, Kevin Gallagher Jr. has always been passionate about stewardship for the environment, so after hearing that the Darien Nature Center’s old compost bin had been destroyed, he jumped into action to make an impact. Kevin and his group installed a three-compartment compost bin and an educational sign. The plastic corrugated roofing is translucent, letting light in and trapping heat to further optimize compost creation. The compost bin plays a central role in the Nature Center’s summer and after school programs, allowing young minds to learn about the importance of recycling and composting.
Peter McMaster’s Eagle Project for a playground pergola at Saint Luke’s Parish School involved meticulous planning and, given the size of the undertaking, an extensive fund-raising effort. To come up with the money, Pete hosted a 5k road race. He met with the Town, school and police to obtain approvals. In addition, he sought out sponsors and volunteers, ordered race shirts, and set up a course. Come race day, Pete led the execution of a race that was well underwritten and attended. With these funds, Pete worked with an engineer to design the pergola and to order and assemble the appropriate materials and supplies. This took a large group of dedicated volunteers, five days of labor and over 500 hours of aggregate work hours from adults and fellow Scouts.
The Darien Land Trust regularly receives money from its donors and from the Connecticut EPA to install trees and other native plants on Trust property with the aim of restoring land to a more original natural state. Maguire Shea’s interest in protecting the outdoors led to an important Eagle Project at the DLT’s Round Meadow Property in Tokeneke and included the installation of native plants along the tree line of the meadow. One of the challenges of the undertaking was battling the very invasive phragmite plants and to create a natural tapered flow tying in the plantings from the project with existing taller trees and natural grasses and flowers at the site. Even with a severe drought this fall, the plants are thriving. The restored area will be a safe area for small animals and birds frequently traveling into the meadow for food.
Every one of these Eagle Projects is a fine testimony to the character and leadership of each of these young men. In the aggregate, these seven undertakings create a composite picture that highlights the close connection between Darien Scouting and the Town that supports them. With two Boy Scout Troops, three Cub Scout Packs and a co-ed Venture Crew calling the Scout Cabin on West Avenue their home, Scouting remains a vibrant and integral part of our community. With young men like these, the future of Scouting and the future of our home town are in good hands.
More information at: darienscouts.org
Kevin Gallagher, left, Stefan Schneider, Pete McMaster, Thomas Hall, Maguire Shea, Thomas Paul and his brother Jamie Paul