By Jenna Bagcal
For Matthew Fennell, becoming an Eagle Scout — an honor granted to just 4 percent of all Boy Scouts in America — was a lifelong goal.
“It was something I needed to achieve and something I’ve always wanted to be,” the 17-year-old Bayside High School student said.
Fennell’s dream became reality back in July and he will be honored for his achievement in less than two weeks. The teen shared that he has not changed as a person but feels a great sense of relief now that he’s accomplished his goal.
The teen was exposed to the Boy Scouts of America at a young age, first observing his brother who participated in Cub Scouts when his family lived in Hong Kong and Singapore. He eventually participated himself when his family moved back stateside.
Becoming an Eagle started with the service project that all eligible Life Scouts are required to plan, organize, lead and manage. Fennell came up with the idea to build two bridges and restore the trail around Golden Pond in Bayside’s Crocheron Park.
He said the idea for his project stemmed from one that his brother had completed when he was becoming an Eagle Scout. Though he was initially against doing an identical project, the teen was convinced after talking to Matt Symons, the Northeast Queens Parks Administrator for the NYC Parks Department.
Matthew Fennell’s mom, Irene Fennell, recalls the first time working on the Crocheron Park project in 2014. The mother of two is currently Troop 49’s Scoutmaster but said she will soon retire from the position.
“We had a good foundation, but nature takes its course,” she said. “It was a tough project.”
After committing to the project, Fennell recruited friends, fellow Troop 49 Boy Scouts and other volunteers to help. Over the course of three days and 370 man hours, the teen and his 56 volunteers painted benches, weighed and shoveled huge amounts of gravel and sized wooden logs to create the bridges.
Fennell recalls the experience fondly as he does all the experiences he’s had with the Boy Scouts.
“The service and work were always with friends. It never felt like work; it felt like a good time with some exercise,” Fennell said. “You have what needs to be done, but the way you go about it is entirely up to you.”
Fennell is enrolled in the engineering program at Bayside High School and is currently in the process of applying to colleges. He hopes to earn a degree in applied physics with his ultimate dream being working for NASA in the future.
He will be honored for his accomplishment at an Eagle Scout Court of Honor celebration at Laterna Restaurant Sunday, Nov. 18.