The Narragansett Council, Boy Scouts of America partnered with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) for the Summer of Service event, hosted at Fort Wetherill State Park in Jamestown, Rhode Island on Saturday, April 24th. The Summer of Service is a national initiative designed to encourage Scouts to “give back” at a time when a spirit of community service is needed more than ever.
RIDEM teamed up with the Narragansett Council to rejuvenate Fort Wetherill State Park, a 61-acre park overlooking the rocky coast of Narragansett Bay. The over 120 Scouts and volunteers who attended assisted the State of Rhode Island by improving trails, reducing litter and overall creating an environment that is welcoming to park enthusiasts.
“Now more than ever, we need Scouts to display servant leadership and give back to their communities,” said Narragansett Council CEO Tim McCandless in a statement. “State Parks have been a calm retreat for thousands of citizens across Rhode Island, and I was proud to see the huge turn out of Scouts create a welcoming environment at Fort Wetherill State Park.”
The Scouts and their families who helped clean up Fort Wetherill State Park received a special tour and history of the Fort from RIDEM staff.
“We celebrate the Scouts and all the wonderful volunteer groups who join in the effort to care for our public lands,” said Janet Coit, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management in a statement. “They set an excellent example of stewardship and responsibility for the natural places we all enjoy.”
The park is home to Fort Wetherill, a military site that dates back to the American Revolution, when colonists established the Dumpling Rocks Battery on its 100-foot high granite cliffs to prevent British attacks on Newport. The Jamestown site was occupied by the French fleet during the Battle of Rhode Island, which involved the 1st Rhode Island Regiment, a fighting force of African Americans, Native Americans and white colonists.
The old fort was demolished in 1898 to make way for more modern gun emplacements associated with the Endicott Defense System along the Atlantic coast. Fort Wetherill’s defenses became outdated by WWII, and it was put on the federal government’s list of surplus properties. It was acquired by the State of Rhode Island in 1972 and has become a popular place to view the Tall Ships, scuba dive, walk, picnic, fish, take photos and explore the ruins of this historic site.
Scouts and volunteers also took part in an Introduction to future group volunteer projects, including graffiti remediation and Eagle Scout-type projects such as erosion control, structural trail improvements, and trail blazing.
Participants received a commemorative patch and qualified for the Boy Scouts of America’s Summer of Service recognition.