Eagle Scout candidate refurbishes her father’s project from decades earlier

Photo courtesy of the Zoeller family

Anika Zoeller posed for a photo with her father Geoff in front of a slope of ground with grasses, shrubs and trees that were in need of some attention.

Anika wore her Troop 19, Rockaway, N.J., Scouts BSA sweatshirt. Geoff wore a Venturing T-shirt with a Scouts BSA lightweight jacket over it.

Anika was holding a clipboard. In this photo, the two look like they’re ready to get to work.

The area behind them, the grounds of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Rockaway, N.J., had been Geoff’s Eagle Scout service project when he was a youth. Soon, it was going to become Anika’s Eagle Scout project as well.

To earn the rank of Eagle, Anika led a team of volunteers in the renovation of the same area her dad had constructed all those years ago.

“I really enjoyed working on my dad’s old Eagle Scout project because it felt like a thank you for him helping me throughout my journey to Eagle,” Anika says. “To just keep this piece of his youth intact … it just creates an amazing memory.”

Photo courtesy of the Zoeller family

How it started …

Geoff remembers working on his Eagle Scout service project back in 1985. A portion of the grounds outside his church badly needed renovation.

“The area was completely overgrown,” says Geoff, who earned his Eagle from Troop 277 in Kinnelon, N.J.

Geoff says he remembers his project being a lot of hard work.

“We had a lot of stumps and roots to get out before we could terrace the slope,” he says. “That in and of itself took days. The railroad ties we put in were extremely heavy to move and all of the work was just exhausting.”

Years later, it was a bit surreal when his kids were old enough to plant flowers in that same garden as part of a Sunday School activity. But nothing could compare to the feeling a few years after that, when his daughter decided to renovate the whole thing for her Eagle Scout service project.

“There was no doubt that my 37-year-old project had long since passed its prime,” Geoff says. “I was super-proud that she not only wanted to do something for our church, but she wanted to renew my contribution.”

Photo courtesy of the Zoeller family

… how it’s going

Geoff’s project served its purpose well, providing a very natural, attractive area of plants and flowers for several decades. But eventually, the time came when it needed renovations, and Anika was there for it.

She led a team that replaced the old railroad ties with layers of bricks, replaced certain plants as needed, and removed other unwanted plants as necessary.

“It was great to see her take the lead and coordinate the efforts of so many of our fellow Scouts, Scouters, and community members,” Geoff says.

Anika refused to be overwhelmed by the task at hand, in large part by recruiting a number of reliable volunteers that made her job easier.

“The project itself wasn’t hard when we had the help of my troop,” Anika says. “It really is an amazing group of people who can help get the task done.”

Once the project was complete, Anika and Geoff took another picture, this time with both of them in their Scouts BSA uniforms. Their work — on this project, at least — was finally complete.

“I love how the final picture came out,” she says. “and I’m so grateful that I could take up this project.”

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About Aaron Derr 146 Articles
Aaron Derr is the senior editor of Scout Life and Scouting magazines, and also a former Cubmaster and Scouts BSA volunteer.