Kon Tiki

On September 22, Troop 353 participated in the Algonquin District’s Kon Tiki event at Durland Scout Reservation.

What is Kon Tiki?

Kon Tiki, the unique scouting event, asks participating Scout troop (or patrols) to build a raft, typically of found and scavenged materials, able to support a crew of two scouts who propel the raft with paddles, oars, or a mechanized rig around a fixed course, while preparing a modest wood-fire capable of cooking a pancake. A suitable pancake must be produced before crossing the finish line and handed in to the judges. It is a timed event.

Here are some photos of Troop 353’s raft while it was under construction. Photos courtesy of Mr. Parsons

Here are some photos from the event itself.

Final standings:

First Place: Troop 353 Eastchester (Yay!)

Second Place; Troop 1 Crestwood

Third Place: Troop 8 Edgement

Troop 353 Dominates District Event Honoring Gordon Hamilton, Former Troop 60 Scoutmaster


On Saturday, October 7 thirteen scouts and five adult leaders from Troop 353 participated in the Gordon Hamilton Memorial Cook-off and dedication of a lean-to in Gordon’s honor at the Durland Scout Reservation.  The day started out somewhat chilly and overcast but soon brightened.  The first order of business for the day was the dedication of a lean-to in Gordon’s honor.  As many of you know, Gordon was a longtime Scoutmaster for Troop 60 in Scarsdale and very active in scouting.  If there was a district, national or even international scouting event happening, you were likely to find Gordon there swapping stories and collecting badges.


The lean-to provides not only shelter for camping scouts during inclement weather but is also used as an administrative office during the Boy Scout Day Camp held at Durland each summer.  Troop 353 conducted the opening flag ceremony as part of the dedication which featured representatives from the Westchester-Putnam Council, BSA Area II and Troop 60.

After the dedication ceremony, it was time to head back to our campsite to prepare for the cook-off! The boys prepared an excellent meal of Alamo Chicken, grilled potatoes, cornbread, fruit salad and Pineapple Upside-Down cake (a Gordon specialty).  The tastiness of the meal was surpassed only by the presentation to the judges.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

All members of Troop 353, including the adult leaders, wore white shirts and black bow ties.  Two of our scouts meet the judges in the parking area and escorted them to Chez 353 where they were greeted by a phalanx of scouts and ushered into their private dining room.  The two waiters presented the first course of fruit salad while the “sommelier” poured two flutes of the finest sparkling apple cider.  The judges then admired their meal while being serenaded by a violinist.

After asking the cooks some probing questions about the meal prep, the judges were escorted back to their car by two members of the troop.


After the presentation, the troop lined up and marched to the strains of the violin to the tasting area where the meal was presented to a different set of judges.  After all meals and desserts had been presented to and tasted by the judges, there was a brief consult and then the winners were announced.  Troop 353 won first place!

After a brief troop celebration, it was time to head back to the campsite to prepare dinner which was followed by a nighttime hike down the trail to visit Pack 353 who was also camping at Durland that weekend.  Sunday morning was a quick breakfast and pack-up in the rain.

Despite the rain, it was a fun weekend. We learned a few cooking lessons, i.e. always line the Dutch oven before attempting to bake a cake and potatoes take a long time to cook. We intend to successfully defend our title next year and hope to have all of you join us.




The Brotherhood of Scouting

There is no better example of the Brotherhood of Scouting than witnessing two active scout troops in two different Councils work together to create a tremendously successful event.  That is exactly what happened (again) at this year’s Wintoree Merit Badge Seminar, where Troop 240 Riverdale, in conjunction with Troop 353 Eastchester, created a challenging but effective and intense learning environment during a winter weekend at Durland Scout Reservation in early March!  Ten of our scouts completed 16 merit badges (including 9 Eagle Required) and numerous partially completed merit badges.  Other scouts made significant progress toward completing lower rank advancement.  A shared feast, skits and crackerbarrel capped another near perfect day of fellowship with our good friends at T-240.  Check out the photos here!

Backpacking at Its Best!

Although Camp Durland is our Council’s short-term camping property, and even though we camp there at least twice a year, it seems like there is constantly new ground (literally!) to be discovered!  If it is November, then it must mean it is time to go backpacking!  This year, we decided to start and end from our campsite inside Durland instead of starting north of Durland inside Fahnestock State Park and then having a few adults shuffle all cars down to Durland.  With a varied group participating, the Green Bar correctly decided to create a shorter and a longer trail, though the group would be together for a good portion of the trail, prior to splitting up!  The weather and the guests and the scouts all held up great!  The scouts appreciated discovering the remnants of old Denytown from the mid-1800s and likewise enjoyed finding new rock formations to explore.  The surrounding seemed so interesting that many forgot about their backpacks.  Some of the older scouts learned how to prepare a quick lunch using a backpacking stove while on the trail, while younger Scouts learned about building a fire and worked further on Totin’ Chip after the hike.  All in all, there was something for everyone and, these pictures show, everyone had a great time once again!

Backpacking the AT into Durland — Always Memorable!

Every year the troop plans a mini-trek for backpacking in order to give the younger scouts a taste for self-sufficiency.  The Scouts typically start in Clarence Fahnestock State Park and backpack a portion of the Appalachian Trail (AT) into Durland Scout camp.  First year scouts, and even guests, are instructed to wear day packs only as some have not experienced much hiking, especially around the hills of Durland Scout camp!  Scouts must prep for backpacking and target total pack weight of only one-third of their body weight and ensure they have comfortable fitting hiking boots (not sneakers!).  Sometimes the troop splits into two groups, with the younger scouts taking a path less than 5 miles.  Too, they get ample practice with map and compass on the trail.

There is a rich history in the area with several abandoned mines from the mid-1800s.  Iron ore was mined in those days and shipped westward to nearby Cold Springs to the foundry there.  There are even remnants of an old town deep in the woods.  If the history is not enticing enough, the natural beauty of a hike during fall foliage is!  Temps can drop into the teens on Saturday night, so the outing is also a good primer for Winter Camping skills.  Many often stay warm after dinner by performing acrobatic skits to everyone’s appreciation.  Prior to departing for home, however, scouts often engage in a traditional game of “acorn wars”.  There is a degree of comfort in camping at Durland each year, akin to donning an old pair of sneakers, as these pictures clearly show!!

Wintoree 2010 – More Memorable Than Anyone Knew At The Time

My parents always told me that “you could never have enough friends.”  Well, I am grateful for the many friendships I have developed in Scouting and one of the most special is that of the many wonderful adult leaders at Troop 240 Riverdale, especially former Scoutmaster Joe Acquafredda.  Because of the strong ties between our two units, our troop continues to be invited to T-240’s annual Wintoree merit badge seminar at Camp Durland.  In 2010, the two troops made an extra effort to celebrate the brotherhood of scouting and reflected on the Centennial celebration with a recounting of the history of merit badges and a display of scouting paraphernalia from the 1960s.   In addition, Scoutmaster Joe Acquafredda led yet another impressive Wood Badge beading ceremony for one of his several adult leaders on Saturday night.
As everyone knows, Scoutmaster Joe passed away suddenly this past April from cancer.   His legacy, which is something that is talked about a lot in Scoutmaster training, is enormous!    He positively impacted hundreds of scouts and scout leaders during his many years in Scouting including the last 12 as Scoutmaster!  He helped our troop immeasurably with his constant offering of encouragement and creative ideas.  Joe’s unbridled Scouting spirit was simply big enough for everyone.  And I am so grateful that our troop got to be exposed to this rare breed of leader!   He, and his wonderful wife Edna, have been true friends.
Watching the scouts of the two troops inter-mingle during the weekend was particularly gratifying.   It was a Norman Rockwell scene of all that is good in Scouting.  As I told the combined group of +50 scouts on that picturesque Saturday morning:  “you will have many circles of friends throughout life.  Not all of these circles will intersect.  That is ok.  One thing is quite certain, however, your circle of Scouting friends will likely end up being true friends, ones that truly care for you and will do so for all of your life.” 

More reflections & a Memorial on former Scoutmaster Joe Acquafredda can be found at the Troop 240 Riverdale website  http://www.troop240ny.org

Oh yes, our troop completed over a dozen merit badges and another dozen merit badges were partially completed that weekend.  For pictures of this memorable friendship weekend, please click here.

Fall Camping

Though the troop often has very specific plans for each campout, some outings are more “scheduled” than others! Unlike prior November outings where the troop backpacked in to Camp Durland’s “North End” through Fahnstock State Park, this particular outing to our local council’s short term camping facility was one such outing that had a bit more time to relax. The weather was near ideal for that time of year too. The main event of the day was the ever-popular “Man Hunt” around our immediate and adjoining campsites. That night more festivities were enjoyed by a visiting troop from NJ, where scouts learned new skits, stories and overall scouting spirit from the visiting Scoutmaster. And basic cooking and camping skills were honed, including first aid for errantly thrown stick. Ouch! Here are some photos from this outing click here.