Over the last few weeks, Arman Moazampour, 16, has beenmanaging fellow Boy Scout volunteers, who are installing an outdoor classroom on the shoreline next to Veterans Stadium. The installation is composed of six benches made from vertically-cut Sunset Maple trees arranged in a semicircle with a tree trunk podium in front. The outdoor classroom, an Eagle Scout service project, was dedicated to Troop 25 Scoutmaster John Hughes, who died in October at age 71.
“I wanted this to be a place where people can relax, study, be together, and enjoy the views,” said Moazampour, who never had the chance to know Hughes in a Scout role. “I heard so much about what Mr. Hughes dedicated to this community, so I thought it would be good to dedicate the whole project to him.”
Moazampour’s brother, Michael, 23, recently graduated from Boston College. “It’s like college,” he said.“I think it’s a place of reflection and serenity, to take on a new perspective, especially during exams, midterms, and finals.”
“I wanted this to be a place where people can relax, study, be together, and enjoy the views.” – Arman Moazampour
The installation earns Moazampour a “service project” merit badge, which is one of a larger group of 21 merit badges, including 11 sub-badges, required to achieve the status of Eagle Scout.
Eagle Scouts are meant to teach leadership and collaboration. In what amounts to a project manager, Moazampour directeda group of scouts to create the outdoor space. “You’re supposed to lead volunteers to bring a vision to reality,” said Moazampour. He saw other places with outdoor classrooms and noticed that Bayonne didn’t have one.
One of the collaborating scouts, Matt Piscopo, whose service project, “Hall of Heroes,” was installed at City Hall in the springwith Moazampour’s help, said,“We’ve been good friends for years. I was leader of my project, and now I’m taking direction from him.”
“This is something the whole city can use, and it’s something I know John would be very proud of,” said Margaret Hughes of her late husband. “It’s thoughtful to think of him in this situation.” When a plaque honoring him was unveiled at the end of the dedication ceremony, she said, “I can’t put my appreciation into words as much as I’d like to.”
She said that the scouts are exhibiting the kind of qualities her late husband spent his life fostering in young people. “I think [scouts] will learn how important it is to be involved in your community and to give back and to be able to collaborate to get things done,” she said.“Leadership qualities are needed in our city, our country, and all over.”
Margaret Hughes also likes the park because, “you’re able to get outdoors without a tent and hiking five miles,” alluding to the rigorous, but educational, hikes led by her husband at Camp Lewis in Rockaway, NJ.
Bayonne High School’s Resource Officer, Loyad Booker, was one of those young scouts following Scoutmaster Hughes through the woods.
“I was 16, 17, and he was a scoutmaster. I was a young man and he guided us,” said Booker, now in his 50s.“John was very inspirational and a great man.”
“He was a selfless person who always thought of everyone else,” said Bayonne Board of Education Secretary Gary Maita, who also knew Hughes as a Scoutmaster at Camp Lewis. “As you can see, this is a testament to these young people here. One generation after another he continues to impact.”
Rory Pasquariello can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.