Burlington Twp. Boy Scout builds multiple libraries to earn Eagle Scout rank

A Burlington Township Boy Scout has earned the noble honor of Eagle Scout this year.

Shyaam Darji, 17, of Burlington Township, is a member of Burlington Boy Scout Troop 764. He completed his Eagle Scout project this year to claim the national organization’s highest honor.

As a Boy Scout for seven years in Troop 764 as well as two prior years of experience in the Cub Scouts, Darji became the troop’s 51st member to earn the rank of Eagle Scout. He also received 32 merit badges.

For Darji’s Eagle Scout project, he built three on-the-go libraries located throughout the Burlington area. The Burlington Township teen explained that when he got in touch with the Library Company of Burlington’s director, Sharon Vincz, she gave him idea on how to reconnect the community to one of its most valuable resources for information on 23 W. Union Street.

“[Vincz] was looking for a scout to do a project for her, which was the ‘Little Free Library’ project,” said Darji, a Burlington Township High School senior.  “They are these mini boxes, which are libraries for people that can hold books for people passing by to use, and they are placed throughout the community. As I talked to Ms. Vincz, she had told me how the library had been there for so long and how it connected with the community. She wanted to revitalize that connection.”

With the idea in mind, Darji said that he felt Vincz’s idea to encourage more literature distribution throughout Burlington could serve a significant purpose.

“She wanted books to be placed around the community and for the library to have that connection with the community,” he said. “I felt that was important and to spread the importance of literature.”

Once the Darji solidified his plans to enact his project, he first had to outline his process. Darji had to figure out how he was going to construct the boxes, decide what materials he would need and how to develop blueprints for the boxes.

With the help of donated items from Lowe’s as well as materials he purchased himself, Darji set out on his project to construct three portable libraries with sheets of plywood, posts, screws, tools, sandpaper, paint, doorknobs, hinges and various other materials.

Along with the help of 15 fellow Boy Scouts and five adults, Darji’s project took approximately three days in February to complete between the construction of the three standing bookcases and their installation.The bookcases are at a Burlington City laundromat, a pocket park near the Library Company and the Lyceum Hall Center on 432 High Street.

During the construction of the three bookcases, Darji expressed his appreciation of his troop’s leaders to complete his Eagle Scout project, saying their help and guidance has extended well beyond his project.

“[Their help] meant a lot because it definitely would have not been possible without them and the help of the leaders,” he said. “They have not only helped throughout my scouting career, but have mentored me along the way and mentally making me ready, and helping me with whatever I need. They did not just tell me what to do, they pushed me to be a better leader and pointed me in the right direction.”

Although the project was completed in a timely manner and turned out successful for Darji, he said leading 15 scouts was no easy feat. Darji said that had it not been for his years of team-building exercises and headship roles in the scouts, he would have lacked what he felt was the most crucial skill to complete his project: leadership.

“Leadership is one of the most important skills I learned in Boy Scouts,” Darji said. “As I’ve been through several different ranks, including a senior patrol leader and also a den chief, I feel [leadership] has been the most important skill and something that has been developed by the boy scouts for me. I also learned how important service is.”

Upon the completion of his project, Darji felt a sense of relief to not only finish it, but to finally earn his rank of Eagle Scout after years of hard work.

“Right after completing the project, it was a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders and a huge sense of accomplishment because it’s a lot of work to lead younger kids,” he said. “After that, I earned a few more merit badges, including Eagle Scout. It was nice to be recognized after years of hard work and dedication.

“It feels a bit surreal because I have always thought about doing this and getting my Eagle Scout rank, but now I’m finally here. It’s amazing,” he added.

Now that Darji has reached the rank of Eagle Scout, he took a moment to reflect on what his time in the scouts has meant to him as well as acknowledged the guidance he received from multiple adult leaders, including Jeffrey Green, Tom Jones, Andy Caron, Bryan Mullen and Daniel Kellaway.

Darji revealed that although his journey to reach his Eagle Scout may be complete, he plans to continue to enact the morals and skills he learned from his troop. He also plans on attending college and hopes to study computer engineering.

“I have made friends for a long time, I connected and met with leaders as well as them being mentors for me, and the skills it has taught me has been the most significant impact in my life,” he said. “The most important takeaway from scouting for me is helping people, doing community service and helping others whenever I can. I want to continue that throughout the rest of my life.”