Joseph F. Berenato
Court of Honor for Eagle Scout Carson Lee
On January 15, an Eagle Scout Court of Honor was held for 2020 Hammonton High School graduate Carson Lee at 499 S. Egg Harbor Rd.
Ahead of the event, Lee told The Gazette that he has “always enjoyed volunteering around town,” noting that, as a youth, he volunteered at the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry. His entry into the scouting program, however, came later.
“I never joined Cub Scouts. I joined directly into Boy Scouts the summer right before my freshmen year and just really went all in for it,” Lee said.
Lee said that his aspirations to become an Eagle Scout started shortly after he joined the program.
“Two weeks later we went to my first week-long summer camp. At that camp, which is all run by older boy scouts and some adult staff, I saw a big scouting community of people that were really passionate about what they do. It really inspired me to keep exploring the scouting program, because I saw there were so many aspects of the program to explore. While I was there, and even after, the quality and the character of the people who I met who were Eagle Scouts made me look up to them. That made me realize that that was the type of person I wanted to be,” Lee said.
Though the Court of Honor was held on January 15, Lee was actually awarded the rank of Eagle Scout on November 5, 2019.
“You have to attain Eagle Scout before you turn 18, and there’s a bunch of stuff you have to do before then,” Lee said.
At the Court of Honor, master of ceremonies and fellow scout Adam Applegate explained further the qualifications necessary.
“Eagle Scout is not an easy rank or task to accomplish, and only about four percent of scouts have ever reached this rank. In order to obtain the rank of Eagle Scout, one must serve at a position of leadership within their troop, earn 21 merit badges—including those that are Eagle-required, plus 11 elective—successfully plan an Eagle Scout project that benefits the community, and present themselves in front of a board of review and satisfy to them that you have done your best to understand and live up to the Scout Oath and Law, and, and always, qualify for the Eagle Scout award,” Applegate said.
Lee told The Gazette that his project involved what he called the “Vine Street Tree,” believed to have been planted in the 1890s.
“It’s in the back of the Hammonton Presbyterian Church; there’s a large tulip poplar tree, and it has a huge wisteria vine growing around it. From what I’ve been told, that’s where Vine Street gets its name from ... Kids play back there behind the church, so what I did was trim the tree, and clean up the area around it with all the branches. Then, I established a garden around the tree and then added two benches in,” Lee said.
Assistant Scoutmaster Keith Wagner—who served as Lee’s Scoutmaster—talked about the project before he presented Lee with the Eagle Scout badge and pin at the Court of Honor.
“He had a plan and he went with it—and then he changed that plan, and he changed it again, because he found out that things don’t always go as planned, but he had a plan ... I never had to check on him,” Wagner said.
Wagner said that he knew Lee was destined for Eagle Scout shortly after meeting him.
“I met him at 14 years old, and he was very quiet—or so you thought. He was assessing things. He was looking. He was trying to figure out what everything was about. Within a year, I knew that Carson will someday be running the show, without a doubt. He was more organized than most of the adults that we have—at 14 or 15 years old. I knew he would have no problem achieving this award. He needed no push. He needed no help,” Wagner said.
When it came time for Lee’s Eagle Scout board of review, Wagner said he had no hesitation whatsoever.
“He embodies an Eagle Scout. He is prepared. He is ready. And he leads every step of the way. He took our troop in places that we are still going today. Everybody needs a Carson,” Wagner said.
Lee’s mother, Jen Lee, said during the Court of Honor how proud she is of him and of his accomplishments.
“Carson plans every moment of his life like he’s the CEO of a business ... He has planned every moment of his whole Eagle Scout thing. I don’t think it’s pretty common that, from 14-and-a-half to 18, that most people can earn an Eagle Scout award that quickly, but he did it. We’re just so proud of him, just so over the moon for him. He has far exceeded every expectation we have ever, ever had for him, and I think that he will continue to go farther and farther. This is just the beginning,” she said.
Lee’s father, Brian Lee, concurred, noting his son’s work ethic.
“He does tend to burn the candle at both ends a lot, and work from day to way late at night. I’m sure he’ll figure that out, too ... I know he can get things done, and he’s always one to count on,” he said.
The Court of Honor also included a proclamation and pre-recorded messages from Assemblyman Ryan Peters (R-8) and Assemblywoman Jean Stanfield (R-8).
Peters was the first to offer well-wishes.
“Congratulations to Carson Lee on making it to Eagle Scout, certainly a very monumental accomplishment. One percent of all scouts make it to Eagle Scout, and it’s a really big deal. Sorry we couldn’t be there to celebrate, but congratulations,” Peters said.
Stanfield agreed, and said that Lee did “a fantastic job.”
“We’re all so very proud of you. The Hammonton Presbyterian Church benefitted from your kindness and from your dedication to your community. You’re a very special young man, and I know that you have a very bright future ahead of you. Assemblyman Peters and I wish you all the best,” Stanfield said.
As for that future, Lee is currently attending the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken for computer science, a field he hopes to enter upon graduation. He has been using his skills to help the Boy Scouts of America’s Jersey Shore Council, which incorporates Atlantic, Ocean and southeast Burlington Counties, as well as Ocean City in Cape May County.
“I use my knowledge of computer science and programming to help program their website ... I want to graduate and start working in the technology field, focusing mainly in human/computer interaction, with design and how people use programs and computers. That way, programs are designed around people—and not the other way around,” Lee said.
Lee—who is one of the Assistant Scout Masters for Troop 58 in Hammonton—also said that he sees his role with the Boy Scouts as a lifelong one.
“I see myself staying involved as a leader in scouting for, hopefully, the rest of my life,” he said.