By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Shrewsbury – Boy Scout Troop 4 is on a roll. With a strong tradition of inspiring Scouts to reach their highest potential, Shrewsbury High School (SHS) junior Ben Collins recently became the 134th Scout to receive his Eagle Scout award.
Ben, 17, said he has been working toward his Eagle Scout award since last February but it’s been something he has wanted to do for a while.
He has had great role models. His scouting experience has been one of support and encouragement – from his scoutmasters and peers to older scouts from his troop who’ve matriculated out with their own Eagle Scout awards.
“Every year my troop does a cookout and there is a father in our troop who is wheelchair-bound,” he explained. “He is not comfortable at all sitting at the regular picnic tables and I recognized that and I thought, ‘wouldn’t it be cool if I did an Eagle Scout project where I modified the table tops?’”
Ben then researched the project and made a plan. He sought guidance from Angela Snell, director of Shrewsbury Public Facilities, who approved the project.
The project involved taking off the existing table tops and replacing them with pre-painted boards, cut to extend beyond the length of the base of the table, far enough to accommodate three wheelchairs at one end of the table.
“I have now adapted four picnic tables to accommodate wheelchair-bound individuals,” Ben reported.
“I’m very proud of Ben,” Snell said. “He made some of our existing picnic tables handicap accessible and he made it so that actually two or three people, if they were in a wheelchair, could sit at the same picnic table with other people so if you are having a function, everybody is included.”
The picnic tables are located in the Picnic Grove near the softball fields at Dean Park.
Chip Collins, Ben’s father, noted that the family is very involved with the Shrewsbury Challenger program and Ben has been a “Buddy” and is sensitive to those with special needs.
“One thing that I know drove Ben crazy was the inaccessibility of the Picnic Grove,” Chip remarked.
There are plans in place to mitigate this issue, including removing a section of curb around the grove and leveling off uneven pavement.
“I couldn’t be more proud…He thinks of others before he thinks of himself,” Chip said. “He really put a lot of thought into his project and getting his troop behind him.”
When not Scouting, Ben plays hockey and is on the SHS Golf Team. He is also thinking of college and hopes to do an Air Force ROTC program at a school where he can also study engineering.
With regard to Scouting, Ben noted: “After my Eagle Scout, I could be a junior Scoutmaster in the troop – I’d just like to stay involved.”