Hither Hills Trip

Some photos from last weekend’s trip to Hither Hills State Park on the east end of Long Island. Scouts camped on the beach, went fishing, and worked on the Horsemanship merit badge.



Summer Fun at Camp Keowa in the Catskills!

Troop 353 enjoyed a week of fun and sun (mostly) at Ten Mile River Camp Keowa this past summer.   The 20 scouts who attended achieved a record 78 number of merit badges, and several advanced in rank as well!

As this was the first summer camp experience for many of the scouts, we relied heavily on the older scouts to provide leadership.  Specifically, SPL Jack F and acting ASPL Chris S kept the troop on task and represented us well at Camp dining hall roll calls. The boys were split into two patrols which were lead by James T and Andy M.

When the boys performed the traditional rose(their favorite part of the trip), rosebud(what they look forward to), thorn(their least favorite part of the trip) at the end of the trip, a majority of the boys stated that their thorn of the trip was the rain! Everyone loved the activities that the troop did which included but were certainly not limited to:

  • An archery shoot (Tuesday evening)
  • A rifle shoot (Wednesday evening)
  • Wayne County Fair located in Honesdale, PA (Thursday evening)
  • High and low COPE course (Friday evening)

At the archery shoot the boys were able to freely shoot a bow and arrow along with the adults! Some scouts even challenged the adults to a competition to see who could get more points!

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The boys also had an awesome time at the rifle shoot, where they were able to shoot on the rifle range for a whole hour!


Scouts from all troops across the camp were able to participate in a rifle shooting competition to see who could get the most amount of points in order to win a trophy! Out of the 15 winners throughout the camp, 2 of the winners, Jimmy F and Noah O came from Troop 353!  Great job guys!

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On Thursday evening the scouts went to the Wayne County Fair located in Honesdale, PA and had a blast on all the rides and were able to buy various knick knacks from several vendors throughout the fair!

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Scouts were sad when the week came towards an end on Friday evening, but were able to be cheered up by the exhilarating High and Low Challenging Outdoor Personal Experience (COPE) courses! Some scouts and adult leaders were even able to go zip lining!

Camp Keowa Summer 2012 171Camp Keowa Summer 2012 161A few brave boys, including scouts Andy M, Jake B, James T, Dillon P and David E, were willing to wake up at 6:00 AM to participate in the Polar Bear Swim, where they had to stay in the icy waterfront for a whole 15 minutes!  Excellent job scouts!

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When the boys had some down time, scout Jack M entertained them with his outstanding guitar playing!  Very cool Jack!


Part of being a scout is becoming acquainted with the outdoors and being able to respect nature. Scouts were able to view and appreciate beautiful sunsets on the lakefront that the campsite was situated on!


The boys had an absolute blast at Camp Keowa Summer Camp 2012, and cannot wait for the amazing trip ahead of them for next year!

A very special thanks to acting ScoutMaster Dave Flannery who ensured that we all had fun, Assistant Scout Master Julio Urbina for taking the lead with respect to planning the trip and to all the adult volunteers who drove the boys up to the site, including Uli Mrose, John Murtha, Ed Poletti, Joey Panico and Jeff Schaeffer!  This trip, as well as all of the others, would not have been possible without all of the outstanding effort put into it by our adult leaders!   For more pictures, click here!

Eagle Scout Court of Honor — A Grand Celebration!

There are few Scouting events more impressive than the Eagle Scout Court of Honor (ECOH) and this was certainly the case on Feb 4th, when Troop 353 recognized its 22nd Eagle Scout, Brad M.   This special celebration of Scouting’s highest honor was held at The Reformed Church of Bronxville, where Brad has been an active member all of his life.  Indeed his devotion to his church choir mirrors that of his scouting career:  he has been an active member of both for 12 years!  It was perhaps fortuitous that his Eagle Court of Honor was held at this church, as he earned his very first Boy Scout Award (God and Church) during his first year of Boy Scouts in 2006 at this church from then assistant minister Rich Lichti.  For his Eagle Scout ceremony, the current senior minister Dr. Kenneth C. Ruge, conducted the Invocation and it was discovered only a few weeks prior to the event that reverend Ruge is an Eagle Scout!

Troop 353 was privileged to have several other special guests attend & participate in Brad’s ECOH:  Mr. Marc Andreo (Sr. Scout Executive, Westchester-Putnam Council, Eagle Scout), Mr. David A. Pope (CEO of The Generoso Pope Foundation),  Mr. Lowes Moore (Executive Director of The Boys & Girls Club of Mt. Vernon, ordained minister, former NBA player, and a scout) and Mrs. Charlene Lambrecht (Director of the Eastchester Community Action Program).  Also in attendance were several political leaders that have always taken a serious interest in Scouting and whom also offered special proclomations and letters of commendation:  Joe Mammana & Mike Fix (American Legion), Bob Foster (VFW), Sheila Marcotte (Westchester County Legislator), Joe Dooley (Eastchester Councilman), Steve Ecklond (Mayor of Tuckahoe) and Stephen Quigley (Tuckahoe Village Trustee & T353 committee member–Steve’s son David was Eagle Scout #21).  And this list excludes a long list of Eagle Scouts from various troops.

The official guidance in the BSA’s Eagle Scout Leadership Service Project Workbook clearly states that a leadership service project does NOT need to be original but Brad was determined to create a service project that would include a combination of health & fitness (initially it was baseball only–another 12 year commitment!) with that of benefitting those less fortunate economically in our community.  Ultimately, the idea of a “gently used” sports equipment drive to benefit the children of The Boys & Girls Club of Mt. Vernon and the Eastchester Community Action Program evolved.  A massive marketing campaign for the used sporting goods was implemented throughout the community for 6 weeks.  The gear drive would eventually culminate in a “Sports and Fitness Day in Tuckahoe” at Parkway Oval and over 75 children participated in organized sporting & fitness activities, which included basketball clinics led by the renowned varsity coaches of Mt. Vernon High School.

The Generoso Pope Foundation generously donated customized performance t-shirts (created by Brad) as well as a DJ to add an element of festivity to the occasion.  Scouts were involved with the monitoring of the boxes used during the gear drive in 8 locations, the cleaning and organizing of +1700 sporting items, and the preparation of the park for the event as well as 100 lunches and the actual leadership of each organized sporting activity during the event.  At the end of the day, the children were surprised when Brad announced that all the assembled gear was to be given away.  Each kid took home at least 3 or 4 sporting items that day and the remaining gear was dispersed throughout the two beneficiary organizations.  To this day, the two organizations continue to utilize this sports gear in an effort to promote a healthier lifestyle for children.  This big sporting event was well-covered by the media and reflected exceptionally well on both Scouting and our troop.  There are many wonderful pictures of very happy & active kids during Brad’s Eagle Scout Leadership Project, which can be found by clicking here!

Like all Eagle Scouts before him, Brad has become a very accomplished scouting leader, has held every major youth leadership position, was elected to the Order of the Arrow and attended three high-adventure trips.  Troop 353 is blessed to have averaged one Eagle Scout per year since its inception 20 years ago.  However, Brad is the first “early” 17-year old Eagle scout in many years as the past several Eagle scouts have tended to be off to college as soon as they become Eagle scouts and thus the rest of the scouts do not benefit as much from having an Eagle Scout around for assistance.  Brad is currently involved in planning the troop’s upcoming high-adventure trip to Colorado in August and continues to participate in various community service events.  Scoutmaster Mike Occhicone noted in his speech during the ECOH how Brad always challenged himself and that his efforts hopefully would positively influence his fellow scouts to do the same.  Thus, the challenge has been made by Brad for all his fellow troop mates to obtain the rank of Eagle Scout before they turn 17 years old.  Though Brad will be heading off to Northwestern University in Evanston, IL in September, he has vowed to continue to try and live his life using Scouting principles.

Even though less than 4% of all scouts ever attain the rank of Eagle, it is clearly not the ONLY yardstick of success in our troop.  Importantly, what the adult leaders of troop 353 are striving to create is a rich and varied program that provides ample opportunities for ALL scouts to learn about the world around them, how to lead others, how to make strong moral and ethical decisions, to serve their community and fellow scouts cheerfully and to lead a healthy life style.  Advancement per se is not a goal of the Scouting program.  It is along the unique scouting trail, that many, many experiences of a lifetime are created for our boys and I am very sure that Brad would vouch for the truthfulness of this statement as he reflects back on the richness of his special experience in Scouting!  Congratulations to Brad M., Eagle Scout!  More great photos of Brad’s recent Eagle Court of Honor can be found here!

Fall Court of Honor – Annual Troop Award Surprise

The 2011 Fall Court of Honor and Pot Luck Dinner was another huge success!  An ongoing slide show, lots of good food and good fellowship preceded the formal Court of Honor!  The dinner was a huge success in itself, largely due to Mrs. Rose Poletti, Leah Lazzaro and Lisa Brown–thank you ladies!!   As the Court of Honor that immediately follows summer camp, there were a number of merit badges and rank advancment patches to hand out.  In addition, it was the announcement of the Annual Scout of the Year award and the Good Turn Service Award — the troop’s most prestigious awards!  Scouts were awarded 106 merit badges, 25 scouts advanced in rank and numerous special BSA Awards were handed out!

The troop also surprised long-time sr. committee member, former Committee Chair and former Scoutmaster Richard Schraudner with a Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by his long-time colleague Mike William (a prior year Lifetime Achievement Award winner). 

The highlight of the evening was the announcement of the winner of the Annual Good Turn Service Award and the Annual Scout of the Year Award.  For the Good Turn Service Award is given to the Scout with the most community service hours accumulated through Scouting, School, Religion and general volunteer work.  The clear winner in 2011 was James T–even excluding his nearly 50 hours of community service as a Den Leader, James still had more community service hours than nearly every scout in the troop!

The Annual Scout of the Year Award is a once-in-a-lifetime achievement award and it measures a broad base of activities including advancement, leadership, training and participation.  As well, adult leaders offer their perspective on various candidates and which scouts consistently display the best overall Scout Spirit throughout the past year.  In 2011, lightning striked twice as there was a tie between Will B (a prior year Good Turn Service Award winner) and current SPL Chris L!!  All in all, it was a very memorable evening for Troop 353 and its growing family, as these great pictures (Courtesy of Anita Rosner) will attest!

Fall Court of Honor & Annual Troop Awards

The fall Court of Honor in our troop is always the biggest and best as a pot luck dinner is a part of the festive night!  This year was no different, as more than 75 people were present and a record number of advancement awards were handed out following summer camp at Read Reservation: + 80 merit badges for 12 scouts & 12 scouts advancing in rank.  Also, special congratulations to Michael P–winner of the 2009–2010 Scout of the Year.  There was a two-way tie fo the Annual Good Turn Service Award between William B & Michael I, as these scouts accumulated more than 100 hours of community service across a wide range of community service opportunities.  Special BSA Emergency Preparation and Mile Swim Awards were also handed out to Willaim B, Chris L & Michael P.  Here are a few pictures from this memorable night!

Eagle Court of Honor – Going Green

Troop 353 has been exceptionally fortunate in that we typically average one Eagle Scout per year and 2010 was no different!  The official guidance in the BSA’s Eagle Scout Leadership Service Project Workbook clearly states that a leadership service project does NOT need to be original but this year a scout (David Quigley) came forth with a very unique idea that our troop leaders had never seen before.   The concept was to assist community officials and other volunteer groups in a major project to assess the economic impact of the urban canopy in the village of Tuckahoe.  This type of appraisal includes a measurement and inventory of all trees that belong to the village.  To correctly assess, one has to go through training and submit evaluations on the condition of the tree & whether there is any overhead wire interference or uprooted sidewalks, possibly signaling potential economic problems during future storms.  Such ultra-green practices are cutting edge urban management strategies being deployed on a growing list of rapidly expanding cities worldwide, including 21 different cities in CA; Portland, OR; Jacksonville, FL;and more recently including Washington, DC; Rockville, MD, Shoreview, MN; Nashville, TN; Seattle, WA and several others.  More info about David’s project can be seen on the Eagles Nest page of this website.

David’s accomplishments are numerous and impressive.  He held a variety of key youth leadership roles:  Troop Guide, Patrol Leader, Assistant SPL and SPL.  Not only did he manage to take on the demanding role of Sr Patrol Leader during 11th grade, but he also managed to complete a few more merit badges, complete his Eagle Scout Leadership Project while taking all honors courses in his senior year and while playing on varsity soccer and crewing for Fordham Prep.  David has a wonderful talent for successfully executing many troop activities with limited time constraints in such a way that one would believe the event had been planned for months!  I have personally known David since Cub Scouts and he has grown to be an extremely caring, capable young man and should represent all Eagle Scouts well.

Like nearly all of the Eagle Scouts from Troop 353, David’s parents were very active in our troop and Mr. Steve Quigley was the Advancement Chair for many years.  Mrs Quigley was very active in girl scouts and both of David’s sisters, Eileen & Laura completed their Gold Award.

Due to David’s very demanding schedule, even after graduation, it was a challenge to schedule his Eagle Court of Honor!  July 25th turned out to be the best available date for the Quigley family and one of the more meaningful participants was David’s grandfather, himself an Eagle Scout.  Former Eagle Scouts and several current scouts gathered during that hot day in the beautiful Generoso Pope Foundation building in Tuckahoe to celebrate David’s special day of celebration.  In attendance were the faithful group of public officials:  Nita Lowey & Amy Paulin (NY State Congresswomen), Vito Pinto & Sheila Marcotte (Westchester County Legislators), John Fitzpatrick (Tuckahoe Village Mayor), Clare Goreman and Steve Ecklond (Tuckahoe Village Trusteees), Robert Forster (VFW), and Frank Morganthaler (American Legion).

David, like all of the scouts in our troop, has accomplished much during his youth scouting career and we are equally excited to see where his college studies at Holy Cross take him professionally.  Though less than 4% of all scouts ever attain the rank of Eagle, it is clearly not the ONLY yardstick of success in our troop.  Importantly, what the adult leaders of troop 353 are striving to create is a rich and varied program that provides ample opportunities for ALL scouts to learn about the world around them, how to lead others, how to make strong moral and ethical decisions, to serve their community and fellow scouts cheerfully and to lead a healthy life style.  Advancement per se is not a goal of the Scouting program.  It is along the unique scouting trail, that many, many experiences of a lifetime are created for our boys and I am very sure that David would vouch for the truthfulness of this statement as he reflects back on the richness of his special experience in Scouting!  Hats off to Mr. David Quigley, Eagle Scout!  More pictures of David’s uniquely “Green” Eagle Project and Eagle Court of Honor can be found here!

Beach Jammin’ in Wildwood


One of the admittedly cooler scouting events of the year is the bi-annual Beach Jam event at Morey’s Pier in Wildwood, NJ.  This hugely popular event has been running for 16 years and attracts both boy and girl scouts from several states in the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast.  Indeed, it tends to be a popular family event with hundreds of scouting families present.  This year a few adventurous girl scouts from Canada, that had traveled over 12 hours by bus, ventured into our campsite to visit as well as swap patches.  The boys seemed impressed with the girl’s willingness to endure a 12 hour bus ride given that the drive from Westchester was only about 4 hours and they got some nifty Canadian girl scout polar bear patches too. 

The afternoon and night are filled with a lot of unstructured free time, which can be a valued learning experience (believe it or not!).  It gives the scouts time to be curious and creative and to explore their world, including the all the amusement park rides.  This protocol also actually rigorously tests the buddy-system.  As proof, one of the newer scouts ended up missing around the 10pm Saturday night curfew, because he and his buddy got separated and the errant scout independently decided to spend some extra time in the Arcade on the board walk.  Until the boy was found, there was a bit of angst on the part of the scout buddies (and parents) and this proved to be a terrific lesson to learn how serious it is to stay together with your buddy at all times. 

After our first trip to Wildwood a few years ago, the troop decided to skip the offered merit badges as the standards of learning were not as high as the adult leaders would like to see.  As you can imagine, this strategic decision to skip merit badge class did not bother the scouts at all as it meant they had more time to play on the beach or ride the amusement rides, as these these pictures can attest!