As Arrowmen around the country settled down for the holidays, members of Ajapeu Lodge of the Washington Crossing Council, headquartered in Pipersville, PA, laced up their boots and ventured to the Sol and Rose Preserve on the chilly Saturday morning of December 10th. The preserve is owned by the Heritage Conservancy - an organization that preserves over 14,000 acres of land, including historic farms, marshes and mines. This event was the first effort in a growing effort by Ajapeu Lodge to serve local organizations in their community.
Twenty Arrowmen from the lodge participated in the six-hour project, working to clear trails that had suffered damage over the past few years from storms. Even four years later, many areas of the reserve are still inaccessible from 2012’s Superstorm Sandy and 2011’s Hurricane Irene. As one piece of the project, they removed one hundred truck and tractor tires found along the trail they were clearing. Through their efforts, they were able to help make the once-overgrown trails accessible again.
Lodge Chief Jeremy Bedient described this project as a first step. “This first project was sort of a test run to see if this collaboration would be an effective one,” Jeremy commented.
Throughout the entire process, the LEC was hands-on in organizing the project. However, since members of the lodge live in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania, getting enough attendance for the project was largely dependent on the location. In coordination with the Heritage Conservancy, the LEC decided to organize this first project at the centrally-located Sol and Rose Preserve in Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania. The towpath they worked on was close to their council service center and wasn’t a far commute for the members of the lodge.
With this project being a success, Jeremy is confident there will be another. In fact, he’s already working with the service chairman in his lodge to organize another project in March when the weather is warmer and Arrowmen don’t have holiday commitments. Jeremy explained that the benefits of these upcoming projects are much more substantial than simply helping the nature preserve. “These projects are an easy taste of the service the Order of the Arrow provides,” Jeremy said, “and will no doubt encourage continued participation among our members.”
While Ajapeu and their service committee will organize these projects moving forward, members of the Order of the Arrow aren’t the only ones who will be making an impact on the reservation. They are working with the Washington Crossing Council to get packs, troops and crews involved in the projects as well. At the end of the day, this leaves the potential for Ajapeu Lodge to see a growth in their inductions while the Heritage Conservancy could see hundreds of Scouts on their land before the end of the year.
Ajapeu Lodge is leading projects to address the immediate needs of the Heritage Conservancy but views that evolving into more long-term plans in the future. With this movement off to such a significant start, it won’t take them much time to restore those overgrown trails. If you ever find yourself wandering on a property owned by the Heritage Conservancy, you can thank an Arrowman from Ajapeu Lodge for making your experience just a little bit brighter.