Mark Strecker recalls being on a camping trip at Lorimer Park a couple of years ago when he and fellow members of Boy Scout Troop 290 ordered pizza.
“We came down from our campsite when the pizza was delivered and saw the tables were covered in mud and weren’t cleaned off, and parts were broken off,” he said.
The camping trip took place in the aftermath of Tropical Storms Irene and Lee, which hit in the late summer of 2011.
Mark was considering ideas for his Eagle Scout project, and figured park improvements would be appreciated.
“The park lost a bunch of tables during the storm. They needed more for the season, when people picnic in the spring,” he said.
Mark completed the bulk of his project by March 2012. He cleaned, repaired and painted 56 tables and built three from scratch, with plenty of help from his dad, George, the Troop 290 committee chairman, and dozens of fellow Scouts.
“The whole troop helped,” he said. “We painted all of the benches and replaced boards if they were loose. It took a lot of wood and bolts and lots of time.”
To earn the rank of Eagle Scout, Mark needed to receive more merit badges and pass his board of review in December.
On April 6, he officially became an Eagle Scout during a court of honor at St. Cecilia Roman Catholic Church in Fox Chase, where Troop 290 is based. He’s the 71st Troop 290 Eagle Scout since 1949.
“I stuck with it, had fun and accomplished something not everyone does,” he said.
Mark, 16, graduated from St. Cecilia and is now a junior at Bishop McDevitt High School. The son of George and Tina Strecker, he lives in Rockledge. His two older brothers are also Eagle Scouts.
Oldest brother George’s project was to renovate the library at St. Cecilia. His other brother, Chris, collected children’s books for distribution to young hospital patients.
Mark has been a member of Troop 290 since 2002, when he joined as a Tiger Cub Scout, but has been going on camping and field trips with his dad and brothers since 1999. The camping trips have been his favorite experiences over the years.
Along the way, he advanced in rank, earned 30 merit badges, won a bunch of special awards, assumed positions of responsibility and displayed overall scout spirit.
Mark has gone on hikes and volunteered at a summer Cub Scout program at Lorimer Park, a 230-acre public park in Huntingdon Valley that borders Fox Chase Farm and is connected to Pennypack Park in Philadelphia.
Lorimer Park officials supplied the wood for the project. Each of the three new benches includes a small metal plaque that reads, “Eagle Project. Mark Strecker. BSA Troop 290. March 2012.”
Tina Strecker, saying she is “very proud of all my boys,” was in charge of providing food and drinks for the Scouts as they worked on the project.
Over the years, she’s made sure her sons’ patches have been properly sewn on their uniforms and that they have enough clean clothes for camping trips.
Mom Strecker thinks Mark did good work.
“It’s a great project. It’s good for the community and will benefit a lot of people,” she said.
An A-B student at McDevitt, Mark is in the first year of a two-year program at the Eastern Center for Arts and Technology in Willow Grove. He hopes eventually to enroll in a trade school to become an electrician.
Mark looks forward to remaining a big part of Troop 290 and encourages young boys to join the Scouts.
“Try it,” he said. “You have fun, get badges and become self dependent. You can become an Eagle Scout and at 18 become an adult leader and help out younger scouts.” ••
Reporter Tom Waring can be reached at 215-354-3034 or firstname.lastname@example.org