Boy Scouts came together on Saturday for one of their biggest fundraisers of the year: Christmas tree pick-up.
This is the 41st year Napa Boy Scout troops, eight in total, have gotten together to collect and dispose of the trees, according to Paul Bartelt, the advancement chairman for the Boy Scouts of America—Silverado District.
The tree pick-up not only provides a way for Napa residents to dispose of their trees in an environmentally sound way, but also raises money for the scouts so they can attend things like Scout Camp.
Matthew Vandenburg, 15, Troop 25, has been helping with the event for as long as he can remember, he said. Even as a Cub Scout, he tagged along to help. Vandenburg said that the event teaches him and other scouts the importance of “hard work and dedication.” The evidence of his hard work was on his face, which was covered in dirt from collecting the trees.
He and Austin Michie, 13, also with Troop 25, were delivering trees to Skyline Park, which served as the drop-off and chipping location for trees collected from the southern half of Napa. Michie said that he thinks people are thankful for the service.
Many of the boys have participated in the event for years, but Scout Master Mike Madsen, Troop 159, said it was his first time.
“I think this is probably our biggest fundraiser of the year,” he said. Since they began collecting at 9 a.m., Madsen said that a steady stream of trees continued to be brought into the location at the park. More trees keep getting put out to the curb even after they go through the neighborhood, he said, so they make sure to hit each neighborhood a few times.
“Each trip, there’s more and more trees that we find out there,” he said. Some people may have either forgotten to put their trees out or didn’t realize the event was today and only remember after the Scouts pick-up a neighbor’s tree, Madsen added.
“The amount that people have donated has been phenomenal,” he said. Although the donations haven’t been calculated yet, he thought it would be a decent amount of money.
At the north Napa location at St. John’s Lutheran Church, John Adams, Troop 2, said he expected fewer donations than previous years.
Adams has participated in the tree collection and disposal event for the past nine years, and he noticed fewer trees being collected this year compared to other years.
“I think this is going to be a light year,” he said, adding that some people may have already disposed of trees themselves if they didn’t want to wait until Jan. 9.
Adams also suspects that more people are using artificial trees. Even so, “it’s a full-day affair,” he said.
The day may not be over for the Scouts until 5 p.m. or 6 p.m., he said. And that’s a good thing. It teaches them hard work, gives them a sense of community involvement and gets them out of the house and away from video games, Adams said.
“It’s a win-win,” Adams said, explaining that there is less waste that needs to be collected in the city, it’s a convenience for Napans and that the tree chippings are turned into compost.
His son, Dylan, 15, said that he enjoys getting together with the other Scouts, collecting the trees and the satisfaction that comes with doing a good deed.
In addition to the experience, Dylan Adams said that the event is a good way to earn community service hours and to earn money for Scout Camp. The money may also be used for supplies like tents, sleeping bags and cooking stoves, he said, adding that it’s important because some Scouts may not be able to buy these items themselves.
“Some scouts can’t afford it, so this helps lower-income families pay for that,” he said. Going camping with the Scouts is his favorite part of being a Boy Scout, he said. He said he enjoys seeing nature and getting away from the city.
Trent Mooers, 16, Troop 83, said that camping out was one of his favorite things as well and that he never did it before becoming a Scout. The Scouts have taught him how to be prepared as well as care for the environment. Mooers is one rank away from being an Eagle Scout.
Mooers, who was wearing a neon yellow vest, helps move Christmas trees off the trucks and hitched trailers every year. “We usually have a pretty good turnout,” he said. “It’s a great way to help the community.”
It was drizzling for part of the day, but the Scouts continued on; the event went on rain or shine, Bartelt said.
“They’re working pretty hard for very little money,” he said of the Scouts. There are usually between 4,000 and 5,000 trees collected and recycled, he said. For the first time in 40 years, though, the suggested donation amount was raised from $5 to $10. Bartelt said that, with all the expenses involved, the money wasn’t going very far.
In addition to the Scouts, leaders and parents who help out, Pacific Tree Care provides chippers and operators for the event.
“It’s a big operation,” Bartelt said, but it’s more about doing a community service project, getting together with all your friends and just having a good time.