Beach Jam!

Our troop’s first experience with the Beach Jam event at Morey’s Pier in Wildwood, NJ was that is was enormously popular with the scouts!  The event is held 2x year in May and September.  Drawing thousands of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts from Virginia to Massachusetts, camping was Camporee-style all over the beach.  The event also includes two merit badge opportunities (aviation and oceanography), a major bonfire at night, & meals were provided.  The main event however was pure fun — having unlimited free access to all rides on two different piers for most of the day!  Plenty of play time for beach activites was also regarded for many scouts as a major plus!  As the pictures attest, the only thing that was NOT fun, was packing up in a soaking rain on Sunday morning.

Special Court of Honor

Court of Honor

According to the Scoutmaster’s Handbook, the four stages of advancement in Scouting are learning, testing, review & recognition.  The last step, “recognition”, is regarded as being extremely important to every scout and this is represented by a special awards ceremony called a Court of Honor.  While all Courts of Honor are special events the Fall Court of Honor for Troop 353 is the most distinguished.  Not only is it a night for fellowship and to enjoy a family-style pot luck dinner (thanks to Mrs. Poletti and several other moms), but it is also a night of very special recognition.  This special evening occurs relatively soon after summer camp, where the scouts have frequently earned many merit badges (65 total) and /or advanced in rank.  The annual Scout of the Year Award is given to a deserved Scout that has exhibited the best traits of Scouting throughout the past year (advancement, training, & participation in all troop activities).  The annual Good Turn Service Award recognizes a scout’s community service efforts often go beyond scouting to related activities for school & through their church or synagogue.  In 2009, if all of the advancement and annual awards were not enough, a surprise Lifetime Achievement Award was given to one of the more devoted adult scouters in Troop 353’s history.

The court of honor took a special turn and a healthy dose of Scouting Spirit was introduced to court of honor with an opening of a few very funny skits representing comical scenes from the high adventure Sea Base camp earlier that summer as well as the senior scout’s favorite spirit song (this is a a do-as-I do song) from Sea Base during the dessert hour.  How wonderful it was to see the older boys having fun time and spreading their infectious enthusiasm!

The annual Scout of the Year Award in 2010 was won by D. Appia.  D. Appia had superior results in all categories that mattered:  he advanced, he took advantage of most troop activities (including summer camp), he took on meaningful roles of leadership and did so in a cheerful manner.  From the Scout of the Year Committee’s perspective D. Appia was the undisputed leader across these categories and was particularly well-deserved to earn this prestigious once-in-a-lifetime Scouting award.

When the number of submitted service hours that one particular scout had accumulated were examined, I thought “this cannot be possible”.  Yet, the Good Turn Service Award committee had dutifully accumulated and verified the data.  After a few phone calls, it was abundantly clear that J. Gonzalez had indeed accumulated approximately 175 hours of total community service work hours during the chosen measurement period!  In fact his hourly totals were over 100% higher than the second place finisher.  Again, the winner of this award was particularly clear cut.

The last award was one that was particularly important to keep “quiet”, as the recipient was also heavily involved in Scout of the Year committee and had intimate knowledge of the Court of Honor program details.  The adult leadership committee was unanimous in its decision that the one individual that had devoted most of his adult life to Scouting in some fashion and, even long after his youngest son had made Eagle Scout, graduated from college and entered the workforce, this dad still spent considerable energy contributing substantially to a number of key scouting activities throughout the year for Troop 353, giving special consideration to first year scouts.  Moreover, this senior scout leader over the years had deliberately chosen to expend his scouting time and energies toward the scouts of Troop 353 and not toward larger Council-type events was thus ineligible for any of the Council recognition awards.  Given this criteria, the obvious Lifetime Achievement Award winner was senior committee member Mr. Michael D. William!  For the perfect trifecta of award winners and other great pictures, click here.