What one county parks official has dubbed “the nicest kiosk we have in all of the Suffolk County park system” is in place overlooking the beach at the head of the trail to the old lighthouse at Cedar Point Park.
Finished in November, the kiosk and new cedar markers along the restored sandy path, which was washed away by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, are all ready for spring’s hikers, thanks to Sag Harbor’s Boy Scout Troop 455 and its newest Eagle Scout, Tristan Remkus of North Haven.
Tristan, who will be graduating from Pierson High School this spring, working as a mechanic at the Sag Harbor Cycle Co. this summer, and then heading to Clarkson University in the fall to study environmental engineering, oversaw the funding, planning, construction and placement of the kiosk and markers as his required community project to qualify as an Eagle Scout.
With the completion of the work in November and its approval by the Suffolk County Boy Scout Council, just before he turned 18, Tristan fulfilled a dream he’s had since his first-grade days as a Tiger Cub Scout.
“We did a lot of fun stuff” back then, he said during an interview in his Eagle Scout uniform at home with his Dad, Chris, and Mom, Valerie. “But there was always one thing on my mind. I just heard whispers about it. It was like this sacred thing that everyone in Cub Scouts was talking about: ‘Did you hear about the Eagle? Did you hear about the Eagle?’
“I’m like, ‘What’s an Eagle?’ And they’re like, ‘Oh it’s only the highest rank in Scouting.’ I’m like, “You know what? I’m in first grade. I’m going to go all the way until I get the Eagle and, you know, live as a Scout for the rest of my life.”
Besides completing a project to benefit the community, another achievement for his Eagle ranking was earning all the badges required of an Eagle Scout, a process that took years. In the end, he far exceeded the minimum, earning 28 badges in topics that included wilderness survival; environmental science; skiing; fingerprinting; swimming; small boat sailing; and pioneering, which requires building structures “with ropes and sticks,” he explained.
There was also Indian lore; personal fitness, wood carving; citizenship; marksmanship; and farming, which required him to change the oil in an old tractor at Boy Scout Camp Yawgoog in Rhode Island.
There was also cooking, which covered far more than preparing meals for fellow Scouts, which itself was nerve-wracking because everybody rated his food. He also had to learn all about nutrition and pricing.
For the kiosk and trail project, an even bigger part of the task than the physical work was learning how to oversee a team and to delegate tasks. “It’s not just about doing all the work yourself,” he said, “because that would be impossible. You have to have friends that can help you. Everyone in our troop was involved.”
Tristan developed a meticulously detailed plan for the project that was subject to careful review and approval by his Scout leaders. He raised the $500 he estimated would be needed for supplies through a Troop 455 car wash at the elementary school. He contacted and worked with county park officials, including County Legislator Bridget Fleming and the park system’s principal environmental analyst, Nick Gibbons, to obtain permission to do the work and set the design standards.
Tristan had some help from Mike Leahy, a family friend and fellow sailor at the Sag Harbor Yacht Club, who is also president of the Long Island Chapter of the U.S. Lighthouse Society and chairman of the 1864 Cedar Point Lighthouse Restoration Committee. Mr. Leahy is the one who lobbied Tristan to take on the trail work as his Eagle Scout project. Tristan, having been involved in an earlier Scouting project to restore a trail for the South Fork Natural History Museum in Bridgehampton, was all ears.
Along with his fellow Scouts, he also had the help of his troop leaders, Scoutmaster Pat Witty — a builder whose knowledge was crucial — and Assistant Scoutmasters James Stewart and his father Chris, a businessman who owns Hampton Pharma LLC in Southampton. A Pierson grad himself, he studied chemical engineering at Clarkson.
Tristan’s grandfather, Frank Lizewski, was also part of the team. Tristan credits him as “the inspiration of everything.” And in an introduction to his project proposal, Tristan wrote: “Regarding my life purpose, I believe I was put on this earth to help save it.”