Four 17-year-old Cherry Hill Boy Scouts will forever remember the date, Feb. 7, 2016.
They won’t remember it as the day Super Bowl 50 was played or as a day U.S. presidential hopefuls dominated the news as they campaigned ahead of the New Hampshire primary election.
Instead, they’ll remember it as the day they were honored for attaining the highest ranking a Boy Scout can receive.
That afternoon, Scouts Joseph Lapinson, Nitan Shanas, Christian Termine and Sean Williams had their Court of Honor at Holy Eucharist Church. The four Scouts from Troop No. 166 achieved the ranking of Eagle Scout a few months earlier and participated in the traditional ceremony in front of dozens of family, friends and fellow Scouts.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Lapinson said. “As a younger Scout, I never really pictured myself as an Eagle Scout. It’s really exciting.”
Each of the four newly christened Eagle Scouts has been in Scouting for a number of years. All of them recalled different reasons for why they decided to join Cub Scouts.
“Early in elementary school, my mom brought me to a Cub Scouting event,” Lapinson said. “They had some games there. After that, I joined.”
“I started Scouting back when I lived in Pennsylvania,” Williams recalls. “My brother started it. He was in the pack, so I joined the pack.”
“It was all the way back in the middle of fifth grade,” Shanas said. “We all went up together. I really liked all of the activities that they were doing.”
Each of the Scouts had to complete a large service project to attain the ranking of Eagle Scout. Lapinson and Shanas had a related project, where they each constructed a section of a handicapped accessible trail in the Old Orchard section of Cherry Hill. Each worked on one, 150-foot section of the trail.
Shanas chose the Old Orchard trail project because he felt it would have the widest impact in the community.
“This was the one that was the most outdoors and helped the community, which I loved,” he said.
Shanas raised money through a crowdfunding campaign online. He also received building materials at a discount rate from local businesses.
Lapinson also solicited the help of family, friends and businesses for his portion of the project. For his fundraising, he held events at local Friendly’s and Five Guys restaurants.
“I think it’s a great thing, especially for people who couldn’t normally walk on the trail,” Lapinson said.
Termine and Williams decided to perform their projects at a local parish, Holy Eucharist Church. Williams’ project was to refurbish the kneelers at the church.
“The kneelers were looking beat up, and my dad said, ‘why don’t you fix them for your project,’” Williams said.
Williams solicited his family and friends to pay for the project and also received donations from parishioners after Sunday mass. Once enough money was raised, Williams led a group of Scouts, family and friends to complete the project.
Termine’s project at Holy Eucharist was to refurbish the church’s outdoor prayer garden. “I got the project offered to me by the Knights of Columbus,” Termine said. “Looking at the prayer garden, it wasn’t too pleasing to the eye. I thought it would be a good idea to open it up.”
Like Williams, Termine led a group of Scouts and friends to remove a lot of the overgrown shrubbery near the garden and install brick pavers to make the area more welcoming. Termine also raised funds for the project after Sunday masses.
“I stayed after a couple masses for two days and collected funds from the parishioners,” he said.
Each of the four Scouts learned they would attain Eagle Scout ranking last year, however their Feb. 7 Court of Honor was when it became real for each of them. All agreed the Court of Honor ceremony was something they’ll always remember.
“It was amazing,” Termine said. “It was shared with Nitan, Sean and Joe. Everybody’s families were there. It was special to see everyone.”
“To finally be in that position, it was so fulfilling,” Shanas said. “I felt loved by all of the people who did come and support.”
Each of the Scouts will soon be moving into adulthood and into different career paths. Lapinson is planning to go into the military after high school, Williams wants to be a biologist, and Termine is looking forward to majoring in drafting at Rutgers. Despite the varied journeys lying ahead, all of them say the lessons they learned in Scouting will benefit them for years to come.
“You’re taught many lessons on how to plan and prepare yourself,” Termine said.
“These skills in leadership and outdoor skills will help me a lot,” Lapinson said.