By Gabe Denton & Yianni Zavaliagkos
We regularly partner with local Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops. Check out this blog post from the Medford Girl Scouts for more on how you can get your troop or other service organization involved. We’ve found the Scout volunteers we’ve worked with to be unfailingly hard-working, polite, enthusiastic, reliable, and willing to take initiative. Lately, we’ve been working more closely with Gabe and Yianni from Lexington. They decided to send us some thoughts about their experiences. What struck me the most was how sharp and strong their sense of nostalgia for the Fells is. Age-wise, they are younger teenagers, but their memories and connections are already so poignant.
Before March 10th, 2016, it had been 9 years since I’d visited the Fells. In January of 2008 I moved to Lexington, Massachusetts from Woburn. I hadn’t been back until I joined the Boy Scouts and started the Citizenship of the Community merit badge. This Merit Badge requires 8 hours of community service with a source outside Boy Scouts and with one organization. My friend Gabe and I were both looking for an organization we would enjoy working for. When he first mentioned the Fells, I was eager to go back and visit. Gabe and I started emailing Mrs. Beal and we found a hike we could help out on.
As the day came I started to feel nostalgic. The memories of weekly walks, the bike rides, and the picnics we had in the Fells were all coming back. I could still remember thinking I was the king of the Fells, and I had to protect it from the “bad guys”: pieces of trash, invasive species, and other imaginary and not-so-imaginary attackers. My forest was the cleanest and best forest of all.
On the day of the hike, I got into my car with a smile on my face knowing that I was revisiting my childhood world, my kingdom. The entire way there, me and my mom were talking and chattering nonstop. Fells this, Fells that until we arrived. Once we arrived, we saw all the small scouts waiting for the hike to start. We meet Mrs. Beal and the adult leaders. When time came, Mrs. Beal gathered us around, and we introduced ourselves. We took a three mile hike picking up trash, looking for animals, and clearing invasive species. Exactly what I did as a kid.
Before I moved to Lexington in 2011, I lived in Medford, and attended the Brooks School and St. Joseph’s School. My mom, a former Philmont Ranger, loves to go hiking, so we would go for a short hike through the Fells almost every weekend. My sister and I always loved playing in Panther Cave. We always had so much fun climbing in between the rocks and jumping out to surprise my dad. When I got big enough, we would carry big trash bags to fill with litter. When I was in second grade, and switched schools, we took hikes less often but when we did, they were longer ones, and we each had a trash bag. We would pick up as much litter as possible on our way to Wright’s Tower and back. This turned into a monthly activity the whole family enjoyed. Sadly, when we started the move to Lexington this slowly vanished. However, in the last year, my mom has restarted this tradition. We have commonly gone on hikes in the Fells. This inspired me to do service for the “Friends of the Fells” when I needed service hours for Boy Scouts. I am glad to be helping the woods. I remember having so much fun in with my family, and look forward to pursuing more service.
Yianni’s accurate conclusion:
Now to talk about the Friends of the Fells: The Friends are an amazing non-profit organization that protects and maintains the Fells. They raise awareness for the forest, promising to keep it as clean as they can with community help. They host programs for young children to learn about the outdoor environment. The Friends are a special tight-knit community who I enjoyed working for, and hope to continue working for in the future.