This Is Rutherford
This is Nicholas Valente
By Jennifer Ersalesi
Becoming an Eagle Scout is a challenging process that requires motivation, dedication, organization, perseverance, and community, and global awareness. Only about 5% of all Scouts ever become Eagle Scouts. This is Rutherford spoke with Nicholas Valente, a Rutherford resident who recently became an Eagle Scout to learn more about the process, his life as a Scout so far, and his goals for the future.
TIR: How old are you? Which grade are you going into this upcoming school year?
Nicholas Valente: I am 15 years old and currently a Sophomore at Saint Peter's Prep in Jersey City.
TIR: How long were you a Life Scout? How is being a Life Scout different from being a Boy Scout?
NV: I was a Life Scout from April 2019 to June 2021. There are six ranks before you earn Eagle Scout. When I joined Scouting, I was in the Scout rank. Life Scout, however, is the sixth rank you earn as a Boy Scout on your journey to Eagle Scout. The ranks are Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life, and Eagle Scout. As a Life Scout, you are required to have earned 11 merit badges. Of the 11, 7 are Eagle-required merit badges. Some examples include Swimming, Life-Saving, and Communications.
TIR: In order to become an Eagle Scout you had to earn 21 merit badges. Was that challenging? How long did it take?
NV: As an Eagle Scout, you must earn 21 merit badges. There are 13 that are specifically required for all Eagle Scouts to earn and the remaining ones can be chosen by the scout. I earned a total of 31 merit badges. It was definitely a lot of planning and hard work. Certain merit badges are more challenging than others. Some badges were physically strenuous such as Life Saving and others involved keeping my composure during stressful situations such as First Aid. Some of these badges take 3 months to complete. It took me 3.5 years to earn all the required Eagle Scout merit badges.
TIR: To become an Eagle Scout you needed to choose and work on a specific project, what was your project?
NV: For my Eagle Scout Project, I built a prayer garden dedicated to Saint Michael the Archangel. Over the course of 2019- 2020, I created a design for a paver walkway, patio, benches, pedestal and statue. In the summer of 2020 I worked with many youth and adult volunteers to use donated materials and build the garden. After over 500 hours, my vision was complete and my team and I created a beautiful prayer garden behind the Church of Saint Mary that is accessible day and night for all to come, sit, reflect and pray.
TIR: Why did you choose this project?
NV: I chose this project for many reasons. My family and I have a long history with the Church of Saint Mary. My Mom graduated from St. Mary Elementary and High School and my parents actually met teaching CCD at the church. My family has celebrated all major religious sacraments there and I attend Sunday Mass regularly. I have been an Altar Server each Sunday since the 4th grade. In addition, I serve weddings, funerals, and Holy Days. In the spring of 2020, I received the sacrament of Confirmation. The Church of Saint Mary has been a big part of my life and so I wanted to create a special space that would serve my church and community in the years to come.
TIR: What did you learn while organizing and pursuing this project?
NV: I learned many things while organizing and working on my project. Some of the skills I learned were basic masonry and electrical skills as well as communication and volunteer managing. All of these skills helped make me a better person because I learned how to work closely with people and I learned how to work with my hands to create something magnificent.
TIR: Who were your mentors as you worked toward becoming an Eagle Scout?
NV: There were several adult leaders that mentored me along the way towards becoming an Eagle Scout and each person provided me with a different perspective that added to my growth and development as a scout and person. My mentors included Mr. Tom O'Reily, Mr Hament Patel, Mrs. Ginny Coleman, Mr. Chris Brnic and my dad, David Valente. They all helped me with different aspects of my project, but together had a profound influence on me.
“Nick is a great friend. He is hardworking, reliable, and courteous. It was a pleasure to work with Nick on his eagle scout project. I am grateful to have gone through the scouting process with Nick and he has been a great help with my own project, " explained Vedic Patel.
TIR: Can you tell us about a favorite scouting memory?
NV: My all-time favorite scouting memory was when I took a trip to the Florida High Adventure Boy Scout Sea Base. They Boy Scouts have a Sea Base on the Brinton Environmental Center on the Summerland Key in the Florida Keys. While there, our troop participated in many outdoor water-related activities. On one of the days, I went snorkeling over a coral reef with many fish, a stingray and even a shark! That was a trip that I will always remember.
Ginny Coleman, Troopmaster, told TIR, "I recall Nicholas as a Cub Scout; chasing newts, fishing, building birdhouses, and his excitement for any new challenges. Nicholas has since grown to be a responsible and attentive young man, who still faces challenges with confidence and a positive attitude. Nicholas’s Eagle Scout project, a great example of him providing leadership, was meaningful to him, his family and impactful to St Mary’s church. It requiring months of physical labor and planning. Nick has the patience and skills for instructing scouts and the charisma to motivate people, in this project or future endeavors."
TIR: Why would you encourage children to become Scouts?
NV: I would encourage children to become scouts because scouting is a fun program. You will not only meet and make friends, but also learn so much about the world around you. Scouting is where I met some of my best friends and we made so many memories together over the years.
TIR: Now that you are an Eagle Scout, what are your future goals with the BSA?
NV: Scouting will always have a place in my life. As an Eagle Scout, I plan to remain active within my troop and help younger scouts along their scouting journey.