Moorestown High School senior Leo Ladik and some volunteers recently refurbished a retired Patton battle tank from the National Guard Militia Museum of New Jersey for Ladik’s Eagle Scout project.
A Scout since sixth grade, Ladik will reach the Eagle rank before his 18th birthday. While he loves the activities of Boy Scouts like being outdoors and going camping, he also appreciates what Scouting has taught him about self-management, leadership and working with others.
“That’s the below-the-surface level that you get, that’s all the bonus that you would get after you’re like, ‘Oh, hiking and camping,’” he said. “Throughout my entire high-school career, I know I’ve always tried to be a bit more in charge.
“I like to be in control of things,” he added. “I like to manage my friends, I like to manage events, and I don’t think that I would’ve been able to learn those skills if I didn’t practice with Boy Scouts and teach younger Scouts.
“It’s all part of a process, and I think it’s leading me into becoming who I am today.”
Ladik’s project required accounting for details such as potential hazards, needed safety equipment, and the work of volunteers, but his Scouting experience served him well in pulling everything together.
“Going into it, I didn’t quite understand the full scope of the project,” he recalled, “until I did some research. I did some looking, I talked to some people at hardware stores, I talked to a friend who works in the ‘restoration of vehicles’ industry, and I realized, ‘Oh, there’s a lot more steps to this that I have to do.’
“ … It takes a lot of managing, but this is a skill that I’ve learned from being a Boy Scout.”
Ladik participated this summer in American Legion Jersey Boys State, a program that educates youth on the duties, privileges, rights and responsibilities of American citizenship. He took part in a field trip to a museum that featured memorabilia and relics from past wars, and as he looked at the retired military vehicles, a sergeant pointed out wear and tear on a specific tank.
The sergeant asked if any Life Scouts were interested in working on a service project, and Ladik jumped on board. Eventually the officer connected Ladik with the New Jersey museum, and the rest is history.
Preparations for the restoration included planning, fundraising and buying items, but the work – cleaning off the tank as well as priming and painting it – was completed in six, five-hour days. Ladik credits the peers and volunteers who helped him.
“I would not have been able to do that without all of my volunteers,” Ladik noted. “I had so many of my friends and so many family members, and so many people I know donated money to help. And so many of my friends and crewmates from rowing came out to help me do the physical labor.”
Ladik was recently awarded a Certificate of Appreciation and a Challenge Coin from the state museum for the restoration. Happy that he was able to partner with the museum, the youth said he feels a mix of pride and relief to see the project completed.
“I think it’s really a sense of completion of my hard work, because not only through all of Scouting have I been working to becoming this final rank of Eagle Scout, but also this past year in school, and this was one of the final big hurdles of senior year that I have to get over,” Ladik explained.
“It felt like a really big milestone towards my senior year checklist, so I’m super excited, because it means that the end is near in terms of high school.”