My name is Robby Riess, Assistant Cubmaster of Pack 353 Brooklyn, NY & Brooklyn District Committee Camping Chairman. This project was brought to my attention by Jack Walsh, Brooklyn Council Vice President, and Brooklyn’s only Distinguished Eagle Scout.
We set out to tackle the task of getting a few scouts for the much needed clean up of the shorelines of Floyd Bennett Field which impacts the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge area of Gateway National Parks.
We worked closely with the National Parks rangers to coordinate an event that would not only be purposeful but also be educational and interesting, while keeping the safety of our participating scouts in mind.
Our original goal was to recruit 50 Scouts. We promoted the project at every Round Table meeting, at district events and also used targeted e-mails to get the word out. Due to our persistence, we ended up with 381 registered Scouts of all ranks from Tigers to Venturers, to volunteer their time & muscle.
The task before us was monumental. We asked for 4 hours of work from all who attended and set-up three separate work teams. These Scouts removed hundreds of bags of garbage consisting of wood, fiberglass, plastic, metal, and boat batteries. In addition to causing a serious negative impact to the immediate and surrounding area, this debris was negatively impacting the wild life refuge and if left alone, would have continued to cause damage for years to come.
Upon completion, the beaches were rake cleaned and restored back to pristine condition. It was a great feeling for all involved to see the transformation of the shoreline in such a short amount of time.
It is gratifying that most of the attendees have already signed up for next year’s project, scheduled for June 5th 2010, which will honor BSA’s “100 Years of Scouting” and will qualify the scouts for the “Scout Ranger” patch of the National Parks Department.