Boy Scouts shine at eclipse event Hundreds enjoy day of science and fun at Wallisch
Scouts from Troop 159 that volunteered to clean the trail system at the Wallisch Homestead in August in preparation for their eclipse-watching event.
By Ginny Privitar WEST MILFORD ‑ Troop 159 organized and hosted a well-attended eclipse event in August at The Wallisch Homestead. It started out as a Scout event, to provide a safe and fun experience for troop members to experience the solar eclipse, but turned into a wonderful day for all the local children. Approximately 250 people attended the event and 130 of these were children. During the day, everyone could visit information stations manned by the Scouts which explained all aspects of the eclipse and how to safely view it. They provided many fun activities as well. They were assisted by Cub Scout Pack 159, as well as Venture Scouts and Girl Scout Troop 94899. Other Scouts came from farther afield to enjoy the day full of science and fun. Not only West Milford, but Hewitt, Tenafly, Fair Lawn, Ringwood, even Maryland and Connecticut were represented. Eight stations provided different learning and crafting activities for the children: There was a telescope and computer monitor for the children to view the eclipse, courtesy of Amateur Astronomer and Pack 146 Cubmaster, Aaron Tornow A station where children could learn about and draw the stages of the eclipse. A station where children could make pocket solar clocks and learn about the myths and legends from around the world about eclipses, courtesy of the Girl Scouts. Cub Scouts of Pack 159 showed participants how to make pinhole eclipse viewers. An Amateur Radio Citizen Scientist Experiment, studying the ionospheric changes during the eclipse, was conducted courtesy of Scott Wylie, the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) NNJ youth coordinator and Pack 159 den leader. Radio signals were bounced off the sun and reports came in from across the country on the progress of the eclipse. Right before the eclipse, 50 people joined Boy Scouts from Troop 159 on a one-mile hike. Free solar eclipse glasses were available for everyone, and organizers said they "blew through 100 glasses in the first 15-20 minutes." Assistant Scoutmaster Lou Szolusha said both Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts had the opportunity to win Solar Eclipse badges at the event. He added that he was, "Very proud of the boys and the help from parents and Scouts." Everyone agreed the Scouts did a phenomenal job running the event. Scout Nicholas said, "It was well-organized; all the scouts had input and it was a family-friendly event." Before the event, there was work to do, too. The Scouts contacted the friends of Wallisch Homestead for permission and found out the trails at the homestead were quite overgrown. So the day before the eclipse, Scouts from Troop 159 and scoutmasters spent almost three hours clearing the trails. One circular trail was so overgrown, they had trouble finding the opposite entrance. Shovels and other necessary tools, as well as water, were provided by the Friends. Alexander, 12, one of the Scouts who cleared the trails, said, "The weeds were 6 feet high, completely overgrown. It was really fun to see all the nature. There was a lot of wildlife, bees, and ticks ‑ a lot of ticks." Alexander's dad said he picked about 2 dozen ticks off his son that day. Alexander also provided some beautiful photos of flora he saw while clearing the trails. On the day of the eclipse, he added, "I went and my brother had his own booth; me and my friends played around and just enjoyed the eclipse. It was cool for us because we had these cool glasses." The Wallisch Homestead is always looking for volunteers and hopes a homeowner or contractor with equipment might help them keep the trails clear.