Our fall Court of Honor this past year was indeed a special event with a huge turnout! The combination of an annual family pot luck dinner and several invited guests for the Wood Badge beading ceremony of Scoutmaster Tom McCandless resulted in the need for a new larger, locale for this venue: our local Cottle Elementary School. This Court of Honor witnessed the impressive recognition of 14 rank advances, a stunning 88 merit badges, and one special BSA award, the 1-mile Swim! This dramatic uptick in advancement completion reflected an equally impressive 50% increase in summer camp attendees! There were a record number of proud parental smiles in the audience.
The other main highlight of the evening was the announcement of the troop’s inaugural Scout of the Year award. According to the senior committee members that determined this year’s winner, the once-in-a-lifetime winner, ASPL Brad M., was honored for his high level of participation in all troop activities (including campouts), above-normal advancement (including completion of several Eagle-required merit badges), consistent leadership role and positive Scout spirit! Several adults were involved in the process and the committee had several outstanding candidates. The Scout of the Year committee expects another outstanding group of high-performing scouts during the 2009 scouting year. This “best practices” recognition award was “borrowed” from Troop 240 Riverdale and will be a great new tradition for our troop! On the walls of the Tuckahoe Community Center will be a second plaque, to match the Eagle Scout plaque, honoring all future Scout of the Year recipients. Congratulations Brad!
Finally, after two years of hard work, Scoutmaster Tom completed the most advanced level of training available to adult Boy Scout Leaders, the completion of the Wood Badge (WB) course. Members of the Scoutmaster’s WB course & Bear Patrol were present to participate in the symbolic “beading” ceremony, which was led by mentor and Scoutmaster Joe Acquafredda of Riverdale T-240 of the Greater NY Council. Troop 240 is believed to have the largest number of Wood Badgers in the area, with about a dozen and several regarded as “3 Beaders” (WB course instructors). Mr. McCandless is only the third recipient of the Wood Badge award in Troop 353’s history, following in the footsteps of sr. Committee member Richard Schraudner and founding Scoutmaster John Callahan. For a look at a very memorable night for Troop 353, check out these photos!