For Alex Caiola ’21, the decision to create a fitness trail at The Wardlaw+Hartridge School for his Eagle Scout project became a no-brainer. The W+H senior considered other options but wound up with several solid reasons to build something useful on the W+H campus.
“I have been at The Wardlaw+Hartridge School for many years, and I felt like there was no other place that deserved to have my project,” Alex said. “Along with this, I know the school will take good care of my project and its future.”
Alex takes great pride in his years at the school and wanted to create something lasting that the W+H community could enjoy. He had just begun working out around the time he started the project, so he was also looking for a way to help and motivate others to pursue fitness. The trail is located at the rear of campus near the athletic fields.
After spending six months writing his proposal and designing the fitness equipment, Alex purchased the necessary tools and materials and spent more than 100 man hours completing his project from scratch. Alex received donations from friends and other Scout families but he and his family contributed most of the funding. He continued to work on the project during the pandemic with the help of family and close friends. It wasn’t always and easy process, and Alex often had to call on collaboration and problem solving skills to reach the finish line.
“I learned a lot of valuable lessons throughout this project. My confidence shifted drastically as the project progressed, and with this, my leadership skills progressed as well. I was put in a leadership position, and quickly took to it, instructing my family members and close friends by watching, aiding, and often times, leading by example,” Alex said.
In July, Alex and eight other Eagle Scouts from Troop 77 from St. Paul’s Church in Westfield had an Eagle Court of Honor to showcase their accomplishments and earn the coveted Eagle Scout rank. Demonstrating leadership in a service project is one of the key requirements for advancement to Eagle Scout. Alex spent 4½ years within Troop 77, earning 21 merit badges and was in various leadership roles to earn his Eagle Scout rank. He also participated in Philmont Trek in 2019 in Cimarron, New Mexico, hiking and backpacking over 110 miles. Only 8% of Scouts earn the Eagle Scout ranking.
“To be an Eagle Scout means to uphold the duties of any human being, but onto a higher standard, to help those in need, to be kind, and brave, even in moments when you want to run away,” Alex said. “Being an Eagle Scout means so much more than just the values we uphold. It is a large group of people, spread all around the nation, offering our services to anyone and everyone who needs them. We will always be there for others and each other, and I am very proud to be an Eagle Scout. We have each put in so much effort and hard work, and now we have been rewarded for it. This title has been earned, and we have so much more to work towards in the future.”