On Sunday, February 28, the only Jewish-sponsored Boy Scout troop in Bergen County will award a local teen with the Eagle Scout Badge.
Avi Samuel, 18, a senior at Torah Academy of Bergen County, has been an active member of Troop 226 for over seven years and has been the troop’s senior patrol leader for the past two years.
The Eagle Scout Court of Honor will include a formal ceremony followed by refreshments and will be held at the Teaneck Jewish Center.
Becoming an Eagle Scout is no easy feat. It is the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scout program. Only a small number of Scouts earn this rank after a lengthy review process. The requirements to achieve this rank—earning at least 21 merit badges and an extensive service project—demands a big commitment.
Scoutmaster Daniel Chazin, a retired attorney who has served as the adult scout leader of Troop 226 for the past 39 years, noted that “relatively few Scouts ever attain the rank of Eagle, so as the scoutmaster of the troop, I am proud when a scout does achieve this honor. I know that scouting has meant a great deal to Avi and I’m pleased to see how his work in earning the Eagle badge has helped him grow and mature.”
To achieve the rank of Eagle, Avi had to earn 21 merit badges and had to serve in a leadership capacity with the troop, a requirement he fulfilled by serving as Senior Patrol Leader. Finally, he had to complete an Eagle project, which in his case involved the construction and installation of wooden puncheons that covered a muddy section of trail at the Tenafly Nature Center.
Avi is looking forward to attending college in September and has been a weekly volunteer for the past four years with Tomchei Shabbos, an organization that distributes food to local needy Jewish families.
The boys in the Scouts gain leadership experience that they do not obtain anywhere else, says Chazin. “They plan and run the meetings and activities and they come up with and follow through on their own ideas.” Troop 226 is unique in that it is among the few in the state of New Jersey that is Sabbath observant, although boys from all religious backgrounds are welcome to join.
Chazin, who has published numerous newspaper articles as well as books about hiking, has been involved in scouting since 1977. He now leads Scouts whose fathers were once in his troop. “It’s wonderful to know I had an impact on their lives,” he said.
Along with learning important life skills, such as emergency preparedness, first aid and how to survive in the wilderness, scouting also emphasizes spirituality. Among the activities the Jewish Scouts participate in are overnights in the outdoors, ski trips and bike trips, and they learn how to tie knots, build campfires and put up tents.
Avi’s father, David Samuel of Teaneck, said he and his wife, Jodi, are extremely proud of their son’s accomplishments. “In order to reach the rank of Eagle Scout, we have watched him put forth an enormous effort over the past seven years. The process of moving up through the ranks, earning merit badges, learning outdoor skills and dealing with the responsibilities of leadership have been just some of the wonderful experiences that Avi has had. He is the first Eagle Scout in our family, and we could not be more proud of him.”
The Samuels said that they are grateful to the leadership of Troop 226, including Danny Chazin, Arvin Levine and Hal Dorfman who put in countless hours to help and encourage all the members of the troop to ensure that they have a good time and learn valuable life lessons. They said they recommend the Boy Scouts because it has had a strong and positive impact on many boys by helping them mature into prepared and responsible young adults.
By Meital Fuksbrumer