Oh, Christmas tree! Troop’s unique project blends service, fundraising, conservation

Scouts hauling Christmas trees up a dune

The classic holiday tune “O Christmas Tree” calls those branches “lovely.”

But one Scouts BSA troop has another description for those leafy holiday evergreens: instrumental in the effort to stabilize and grow sand dunes on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Troop 117 of Kitty Hawk, N.C., (Tidewater Council) has found an innovative way to serve the community, conserve the environment and raise money for troop adventures — all at the same time.

Here’s how it works.

A line of Christmas trees on sand dunes

Unwrapping an idea

Every January, the Scouts pick up Christmas trees from the community at no charge to the tree’s owner.

The Scouts then clean the trees and remove any decorations that might have been inadvertently left on.

Next, the Scouts work with beachfront homeowners to place these trees on their dune line. Thanks to training within the troop, the Scouts know precisely how to place the trees so they’ll trap blowing sand and promote the growth of grasses on the dunes.

The dense needles hold onto the sand, protecting the dunes from erosion. These needles fall off within a year, and the branches decay in about two years. That makes this a perfectly green solution to a real-world problem.

Raising funds

The dune protection work isn’t free, however. The Scouts provide the service as a fundraiser that helps support future troop adventures. (Note: Be sure to read this post before planning your next unit fundraiser.)

For $200, the Scouts will place 10 Christmas trees on a beachfront dune after the holiday. For wider lots, the troop recommends 20 trees — for $400.

That’s significantly cheaper than any commercial dune protection available — and it comes with the added benefit of supporting Scouting.

“This purchase will not only protect the dune and your home, but also help provide valuable resources for the Scouts,” according to a message on the troop’s site. “Participating in this program creates opportunities for youth to gain memorable experiences and become instilled with values, principles and skills that will help them develop into the future leaders of our nation.”

So far in 2020, the Scouts have installed 300 trees and protected a half-mile of beachfront. Once they’re done for the year, the Scouts will have placed 1,000 trees in 2020 alone.

Those truly are some lovely — and versatile — branches.


Thanks to Alison Harrison of the Tidewater Council for the blog post idea!

About Bryan Wendell 2946 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.