Camp Yawgoog

Photos from Troop 353’s first-ever summer camp trip to Camp Yawgoog in Hopkinton, Rhode Island.

Troops from all over Long Island, Westchester, and New England spent summer camp at Sandy Beach, one of the three camps in Yawgoog Scout Reservation (the others being Medicine Bow and Three Point). Scouts spent a week learning and earning merit badges, sending them closer to rank advancement.

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Wilderness Survival Weekend at Seton Scout Reservation


Scouts from Troop 353 camped at Seton Scout Reservation in Greenwich, CT for Wilderness Survival Weekend. We had a lot of fun building shelters in and around the campsite, even though it rained a little. Scouts had the option to sleep in their shelter, and if they didn’t want to, they slept in their tents. Several scouts finished the Wilderness Survival merit badge.

Thanks to Mr. C for the donuts!

Camp Waubeeka

Scouts from Troop 353 spent a week at Camp Waubeeka in Brant Lake, New York. Scouts earned merit badges like First Aid, Indian Lore, Mammal Study and Kayaking. And at Camp Waubeeka, the scouts cooked all their own meals!

We had lots of fun and are looking forward to next summer.

Thanks to Mr. Kindberg and the other adults who stayed with us.

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!

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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!

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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!

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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!