SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — Columbia High School sophomore Charlie Hummel has been a Scout since he was in first grade, and this year he has to complete a community service project to move into the upper echelon of the Boy Scouts. To achieve the prestigious rank of Eagle Scout, Hummel has decided to restore the bocce courts in South Orange’s Meadowland Park to their former glory for residents to enjoy. He is currently in the fundraising phase of his project and hopes to have it completed by the end of the summer.
“I went to the South Orange Recreation Department and they said that the bocce courts could be fixed up,” Hummel said in a phone interview with the News-Record on Jan. 4. “So now I’m fundraising and the plan is to be done by the end of the summer.”
Bocce is played on gravel courts with metal or plastic balls. Players bowl a ball across the court in an attempt to touch another smaller ball; the person or team who gets closest wins. Players can also attempt to displace each other’s position as well.
“I’m going to replace the boards and paint them,” Hummel said. “I’m also going to get new gravel for a better playing surface.”
Hummel has chosen a project that will hopefully earn him his Eagle Scout rank, but it must go through a review process before he can roll up his sleeves and get to work. First, he had to put together a proposal and get it approved by his Scoutmaster, and then he had to get it approved by the troop’s Eagle Scout Council. Hummel is a member of Troop 5 in Maplewood.
“I like sports and games a lot, so I definitely wanted to do something outside,” he said. “I’m not a bocce player, but I am familiar with how it works so I thought this would be a good project.”
To complete the bocce court renovations, Hummel estimates that he’ll need approximately $2,100. So far, he has raised nearly $900 through his online fundraiser at www.gofundme.com/charlie039s-bocce-court-eagle-project.
Hummel will also present the project to the South Orange Board of Trustees, and said the village has been supportive of his endeavors.
“They’ve been really helpful,” he said. “They obviously gave me the idea, and we met to talk about it. They’ve given me access to the skate house when I’m there working on it and they’re going to help with all of that.”