By Jennifer Ortiz
FARMINGDALE – Hunter Joseph Smith, 18, of Farmingdale, has attained the highest rank in the Boy Scouts of America – Eagle Scout.
Hunter is a member of Troop 13, sponsored by the United Methodist Church of Farmingdale. The young man is a 2016 graduate of Howell High School.
The leader of Troop 13 is Jeffrey Smith, who is Hunter’s dad. He called the rank of Eagle the pinnacle of scouting.
“In order to achieve (the rank of Eagle Scout), you have to complete at least 21 merit badges. There are 13 merit badges required and the rest are electives. Hunter earned 37 merit badges,” Smith said. “You also have to plan and coordinate an Eagle Scout (service) project, where you would supply your services to a church, a municipality or a nonprofit type of entity.”
For his Eagle Scout project, Hunter created a space at the Farmingdale Community Center where worn American flags can be dropped off. Anyone in possession of a worn U.S. flag may drop it off with the knowledge it will be disposed of in the proper manner.
Smith said his son received authorization for the project from Farmingdale’s late mayor, Jay Morgan.
Hunter obtained a retired United States Postal Service mailbox from the local Lions Club and that box is where the worn flags may be deposited.
“Hunter decorated the mailbox and painted it with patriotic pictures, logos and themes. He did some landscaping work outside the community center and anchored the mailbox to a new cement sidewalk he poured,” Smith said. “That area will forever be a place for Farmingdale residents or residents of surrounding towns to drop off retired American flags.”
Representatives of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Boy Scouts of America will remove the donated flags from the drop-off location and retire them in an appropriate flag burning ceremony.
Hunter became a Cub Scout at the age of 7 and eventually earned the Arrow of Light award after he mastered skills such as navigating in the dark, identifying trees and poisonous plants, and tying knots.
Hunter received his Eagle Scout badge and membership in the National Eagle Scout Association on July 16. His troop, Troop 13, was part of his Court of Honor ceremony, along with teachers, neighbors, friends and family members.
Hunter said when it comes to being a Boy Scout, he has enjoyed the people around him, the lessons he has learned and the bonds he has made.
“It’s been a long time and it’s a big accomplishment,” he said. “A lot of people think joining the Boy Scouts or Cub Scouts is just about going camping, but it’s a lot of work. Scouts work toward merit badges and activities and life skills.
“They still have school and homework and other activities to coordinate and fit into their schedule … so it’s a big undertaking. The adult part of the Boy Scouts comes now … I’m going to be a leader and teach younger scouts. It’s the end of me being a kid, but now I’m an adult beginning to teach,” Hunter said.