Eagle Scout candidate builds camel shelter at L.V. Zoo
The Lehigh Valley Zoo, Schnecksville, has a new home for its resident Dromedary camels, 22-year-old Leena and 18-year-old Baby.
Boy Scout Connor McCoy, 14, of Schnecksville, constructed a camel shelter for the two as his Eagle Scout project.
McCoy, an eight grader at Orefield Middle School, has been a member of Boy Scout Troop 57, Neffs, for three years.
In addition to Scouting, McCoy plays baseball and basketball, and enjoys being outdoors.
“My dad is one of my troop’s Scout leaders and also an Eagle Scout,” McCoy said. “For about a year, he helped me try to determine what to do for my Eagle project.
“Since I have been going to the L.V. Zoo since I was little, we figured why not try to explore project opportunities there.”
General Curator of Animal Care at the zoo Samantha Wegman commented on McCoy’s project.
“Connor reached out to the zoo to seek out a project,” she said. “I followed up with him, and he was very enthusiastic to do a project that would benefit the animals.
“I explained our camels had recently arrived and needed a new shelter in their habitat. He eagerly took it on.”
Wegman said the young man asked detailed questions.
“Connor presented a professional proposal which included the materials he would need, how he would attempt to raise funds, timelines and backup plans,” Wegman explained. “I was very confident in his ability to complete the project.”
Wegman was McCoy’s liaison with the zoo.
She was responsible for approving the work he and his team did, monitoring their interactions with the animals, and inspecting the shelter upon completion.
McCoy started building the shelter, which took about a month to complete, in September 2017.
“I appreciate my parents, my sister, my fellow Scouts and Scout leaders, and everyone else who contributed their time to help me build the shelter,” McCoy said.
McCoy is also grateful his parents, Todd and Amy, bought all the materials used to build the shelter.
Materials came from AJ Henry Lumber, Neffs, which offered a $50 discount, and Action Rentals of Allentown, which provides 50 percent off for Boy Scouts doing Eagle projects.
“There was a lot of prep work before construction” McCoy said. “My dad and I measured the landscape using metal stakes and string lines.
“I made a lot of sketches and calculations in my log book, too.”
McCoy and his team usually started work on the shelter at 3 p.m. staying until dark.
The camels would stay in their night house during those times.
So the camels could enjoy their habitat during the day without getting into the construction, McCoy built a special fence for them.
“The camels were curious, however, and often would watch the construction team over the wall of their night house,” Wegman said. “To get the materials into the zoo, we used my dad’s pickup truck and my grandfather’s flatbed truck.
“I remember shoveling concrete through mud on very hot days. My team and I survived though by working safely and drinking a lot of Gatorade.”
Wegman said McCoy is very mature for his age.
“He was diligent about communicating and handled himself with confidence and professionalism,” she explained. “I was very pleased with his work ethic, enthusiasm and ability to keep his project on track.
“The project was done professionally and ahead of schedule. If he represents most Eagle Scouts, the Boy Scout organization is doing very well.”
Wegman said the camels immediately took to their new shelter.
“They enjoy hanging out in it,” she said.
McCoy’s mom commented on her son’s work ethic.
“Todd and I are very proud of Connor’s project,” she said. “All the time and effort he put into it and watching him grow as a leader has been great.
“He is an exceptional Boy Scout and continues to make us proud in everything he does, both in and out of Scouting.”
When Connor finished the project, Wegman and his parents surprised him with a plaque placed in front of the shelter.
The plaque included his name, troop number, and date of his project’s completion.
“It was very heartwarming to see that,” McCoy said.
McCoy still has to earn a few more merit badges before officially becoming an Eagle Scout, but this project puts him well on his way.
And as an Eagle, he hopes to continue working with scouts to help lead younger generations through their scout experience.
For any Scouts wanting a future project with the zoo, inquiries may be sent to Wegman at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 610-799-4171.