ELSMERE — Troop 58 of Elsmere awarded six of its Scouts the rank of Eagle Scout. This accomplishment for Troop 58 comes on the heels of a long year of working together against the odds to make this possible.
Scoutmaster Robert DeCandia, who is a third generation of Scouters, said, “Becoming an Eagle Scout is uncommon, and achieving the rank is a huge accomplishment for any individual scout. Having six scouts from Troop 58 simultaneously awarded this rank is tremendous and a great source of pride for Troop 58.”
Caleb Gambelunghe, James Janeski, Colin King, Zachary Shekhter, Grady Nautel, and Vincent Blendell all began at Troop 58 together. At the end of 2021, Gambelunghe was the first to achieve Eagle rank, but due to COVID, he waited to have his court of honor until it could be held in person.
Shortly thereafter, the next five followed in his footsteps, swiftly achieving Eagle rank this year. No sooner did one achieve their Eagle rank, than another did. Each waited for the other to complete their rank requirements before the court of honor was held. Five were awarded palms. Their teamwork led to all six being able to celebrate the Eagle Scout Court of Honor together in October.
“In all my scouting years, I have never heard of an Eagle Scout Court of Honor this large,” DeCandia remarked.
Eagle is the highest achievement or rank attainable in the Scouts BSA program of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). DeCandia describes the Eagle Scout process as something earned through time and dedication, the culmination of the skills a scout has acquired over the years.
“I would say an Eagle is someone who is prepared, stands tall among his peers, is a service minded citizen, a student, a teacher, and a leader. Someone who respects the outdoors and seeks life’s next adventure.”
On their journey to achieving Eagle, all six of Troop 58’s scouts performed various service projects throughout the year with the aim of benefiting the community.
Colin King coordinated with his friends, family, and fellow scouts to fully fundraise and build a roofed trailhead structure for the Normans Kill Ravines Park. His service assisted park patrons and the Town, which required assistance with signage.
At Brown School in Schenectady, Zachary Shekhter guided scouts and adults on a mission to revitalize and invigorate the landscaping of the school. Additionally, two new wooden benches were constructed for the school.
Caleb Gambelunghe also led a project in landscaping. At Kings Chapel Church, he managed property improvements including planting, landscaping, mulching, rock bedding, and rebuild of a rock wall
For the Troy Boys and Girls Club, James Janeski focused his skills on a service project that handled the care and maintenance of the playground area. A new bench was also built for the playground.
At the South End Children’s Cafe, an organization with the mission to address food security and positively influence the physical and mental health of children, Vincent Blendell created shelves that could assist the organization with further storage and ease of efficiency.
Grady Nautel’s project was for the non-profit group RISSE (Refugee and Immigrant Support Services of Emmaus). Nautel’s project bore in mind the specific needs of RISSE as a center that assists the lives and education of refugee and immigrant families. For his project, he designed six benches that had mobility to accommodate RISSE’s playground area and outdoor education areas.
“It is so satisfying watching a scout who had difficulty setting up a tent just a few years ago puff out his chest to accept his new Eagle badge,” commented DeCandia. “I am honored to know these outstanding scouts and was glad to be part of their Eagle Court of Honor ceremony.”
If a parent is interested in their child joining Troop 58’s scouting program, DeCandia encourages them to reach out at http://www.troop58.us.