Summer Fun Activities!

Bowling

This past year our troop’s committee decided to try something new. The committee decided to implement a new point system for the scouts and registered leaders. Some troops have similar systems, but create competition among the troop patrols. Troop 353’s adult leadership felt that the system should be created where the whole troop should be rewarded if the goal was attained. Points were awarded for all meeting attendance (including PLCs) & participation in all activities, advancement, training, parental involvement, uniform inspection, recruitment & special awards. If the troop, in aggregate, was able to reach its total point target of 75,000 points by the end of June, then the committee agreed to reward the boys with a fun activity of their choosing (and within financial reason!).

Fortunately, our scouts were both fairly dilligent in moving ahead systematically to attain the coveted minimum 75,000 point total and pragmatic in their choices of a fun event. On a hot Sunday afternoon, the Scouts chose a couple of sessions of laser tag & bowling, along with lunch, at a local shopping mall as a way to reward themselves for all their hard work of the previous 9 months. While photos of the laser tag were somewhat impractical, it was clearly an activity that the scouts enjoyed thoroughly! Afterwards, the group moved to the new bowling alley and enjoyed a competitive match along with a delicious lunch. For more fun photos, click here!

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Eagle Scout Court of Honor – The Ultimate Scouting Achievement!

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Recently our troop honored two of our senior scouts, Thomas D. and Joshua W., in the most special ceremony of all for Boy Scouts, an Eagle Court of Honor.  Widely regarded as the pinnacle of achievement in Boy Scouting, the Eagle Court of Honor takes on an extra special meaning compared to our other regularly scheduled Court of Honors.  The Boy Scouts of America estimates that only 5% of all Boy Scouts ever attain the level of Eagle Scout, with only 1.7 million Eagle Scouts cumulatively in our country since Boy Scouting began here in 1912.  It is indeed an exclusive club and an achievement that signals to the community and the business world that an individual subscribes to the highest level of integrity and performance.  As I often mention in my Scoutmaster’s Conference for Eagle Scouts, the attainment of this coveted rank will become increasingly more important to the individual scout over time.  An Eagle Scout unquestionably has met a higher level of standard and has clearly set himself apart from his peers as someone being very special!

In our part of the country, we are blessed with several local dignataries & politicians that display a genuine interest in Eagle Scouts, as these young men are viewed as future leaders of our community.  As part of our Court of Honor, these local dignataries often provide the Eagle Scouts with special Proclamations mounted in picture frames.  As well, one of our senior troop committee members, Mike W., provides the Eagle Scouts with a customized scrapbook of impressive letters of congratulations from several of the most important government leaders in our country, including the President of the United States, the Vice-President of the United States, and nearly all of the President’s cabinet members.

Our troop tries to make the Eagle Court of Honor a very family-oriented event given that so many family members are in attendance.  After the ceremony, considerable food and refreshments are enjoyed by all, while scouts comb through the special scrapbooks of congratulatory letters.  Troop 353 is relatively young, less than 20 years old, and has been blessed with an average of one Eagle Scout for each year the troop has been in existence.  For a complete list of our troop’s Eagle Scouts, click on the “Eagles Nest” tab at the top of the page. Perhaps more importantly, several of our Eagle Scouts still remain active in our troop’s various activities.

For a fact sheet and list of famous Eagle Scouts, click here => http://www.scouting.org/factsheets/02-516.html

For more great photos from that special night, please click here.

Batter Up! Scouts Visit the Historic House that Babe Ruth Built!

60 Eager Yankee Fans Await the historic Yankee Stadium Tour

In our neck of the woods, there are few recreational ideas that stimulate more scout and parental interest than visiting the historic Yankee Stadium in the Bronx! Recently, Troop 353 sponsored a visit to the historic house that Babe Ruth built and invited local Cub Scout Pack 7 and all parents alike. The response was overwhelming, as our group quickly reached a maximum allowable number of participants at 60 strong! The timing for a stadium tour was good as the construction on the new 51,000 seat Yankee Stadium (next door) has begun and hopefully will be completed in time for the 2009 season.

There is an incredible amount of history at Yankee Stadium, which opened its doors on 4-18-23 with a 4-1 win over the Red Sox before a crowd of over 74,000! Babe Ruth, acquired from the Red Sox three years earlier, hit the first home run in the Stadium that day. With 26 World Series titles, more than any other professional sports team anywhere, the Stadium is a virtual mini-Hall of Fame that any baseball fan could appreciate.

The tour included a stop in the massive Press Box, a visit to historic Monument Park, and ended with a lengthy stay in the dugout. All along the way, our tour guide offered a non-stop dialogue of interesting facts and recounting of historic moments. The grass in the baseball field looked like a golf course! And when sitting in the dugout, it was very easy to imagine what it would be like during a real professional game. Many a face were either in awe or in a daydream mode! For more information on Yankee Stadium and the rich history of the Pinstripes, go to http://newyork.yankees.mlb.com/nyy/ballpark/index.jsp

Unquestionably, this was the troop’s most popular event of the scouting year and one that reinforced some special father-son bonding in a special way. For more great photographs, click here.

Community Service: Scouts Perform ‘Good Turn’ Service Project at Graymoor Monastery

Brother Ted Shares 9-11 Memorial History

Recently nearly 20 scouts and parents from Troop 353 volunteered their time to help beautify the grounds of the Graymoor Monastery. After spending the day clearing weeds, brush and undergrowth, there was time (and energy!) for a variety of fun sporting activities. As well, the older scouts were able to give a successful demonstration on how to prepare a dutch oven treat! (Note from the Webmaster: it was truly delicious!) The camp site on the Graymoor Monastery grounds was fantastic, where also the Applachian Trail cuts through the property nearby.

The scouts worked very hard during a beautiful weekend to clear a substantial amount of weeds, brush and small trees and their roots on a steep slope near the main entrance. The ultimate goal of planting hundreds of wild flowers on a cleared-out slope was achieved through substantial physical labor. (Note from Webmaster: we were beat, especially the “old goats patrol.”) Brother Ted, our liason with the Monastery, was surprised (and quite pleased!) at how much work was accomplished that Saturday. Despite the strenuous work, our scouts remained “cheerful” and appeared quite gratified in their accomplishments!

Brother Ted also gave us a very personal tour of his 9-11 Memorial Garden, which was constructed after the tragic WTC disaster. Materials found from the WTC site were used to construct a large Cross. Needless to say, many people from all faiths from all over the world frequent this holy garden for quiet moments of prayer and reflection. Troop 353 is proud to have helped beautify the area nearby. A scout is helpful & reverent! For more photos of the weekend at Graymoor Monastery, click here.

Fun Bonfire Event Draws Crowd!

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If there is on thing that boys of all ages love, it is a bonfire! Recently, Troop 353 Eastchester in conjunction with Cub Scout Pack 7 in Tuckahoe, sponsored their first ever recruitment bonfire on a brisk Friday night in late April. Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts alike performed several funny skits. Our SPL and ASPL, Daniel A. and Connor M., led the crowd in singing a few songs, as did Troop 353 committee member Mike W. Pack 7 Cubmaster Michael P. and Troop 353 Scoutmaster Tom M. gave overviews of Cub Scouting and Boy Scouting to eager parents and interested youngsters.

The best part however, was the scouting presentation by two of Westchester Putnam Council’s premier Indian Lore experts, John G. and Denise G., aka Lady Hawk. Their full native American costumes were fabulous and their message to the children highly effective! Even our district executive for the Four Rivers district, Carlos R. paid a visit and gave parents a brief synapsis of the fun scouting activities often pursued.

Even the older scouts from Troop 353’s venture crew assisted in the evening’s festivities. These experienced scouts showed the younger scouts how to build a fire in a “Leave No Trace” manner. Six inches of top soil was put on top of a tarp and the bonfire was built atop the dirt-covered tarp. Cleanup was easy, though the ground was still damp the next morning from extinguishing the fire.

A special thanks to the Village of Tuckahoe for delivering considerable free firewood to this event. Additionally, John D. of Pack 7 led a considerable parental effort to provide substantial food and treats for everyone to enjoy! All in all, it was a wonderful and fun event that should help boost Cub Scout recruitment efforts considerably this September. For more fun photos of the event, including many happy children, click here!

Hiking the Breakneck Ridge Trail

Breakneck Ridge Trail

Recently a small group of mainly older scouts ventured out for a stenuous hike on the Breakneck Ridge Trail in the Hudson Highlands State Park. Although the hiking maps showed a likely steep ascent, the magnitude of the pitch was even more intimidating in its actual appearance. However, the trail was not as bad as it first appeared and about every 200 feet of elevation there was a spot for resting and enjoying the view. The trailhead begins at the Hudson River and winds its way nearly straight up mulitple rock facings until one reaches the peak at about 1100 feet. There were multiple scenic view points along the way as evidenced by numerous spectacular photographs. After lunch, our hardy crew headed back down the backside of the ridge along the Breakneck trail bypass.

Along the way, we came across a small swamp with thick reeds atop the mountain with numerous loud, chirping frogs–a unique and unexpected ecosystem that was thriving with life. The area was also ripe for major bird watching, with several different species spotted along the way. In the distance, about 3 miles to the Northeast of the top of the ridge one could view South Beacon Mountain and an abandoned watchtower, where one reportedly can view NYC, some 40 miles south. In the Hudson River below, hikers could view Pollepel Island, home of the Bannerman Castle. Francis Bannerman built a castle simulated after his home country of Scotland and used the island as a major storage facility for his highly successful munitions business. Pollepel Island has a rich history, for more information, see http://www.bannermancastle.org/history.html.

All in all, participants agreed that the strenuous hike was well worth the effort and each agreed that they look forward to a return visit. Maybe next time, our group can make the South Beacon Mountain Tower….Enjoy the pics!

Scout Sunday: Pass the Coffee and Sign ‘Em Up!

Scout Sunday

Manning two tables filled with coffee, juice and dougnuts – as well as hand-outs on Scouting – a hardy band of Scouts, Webelos and adult leaders braved a blustery morning at Immaculate Conception Church on Scout Sunday, March 25th. The goal was simple: to let church-goers know about all the great activities of Cub Scout Pack 7 and Troop 353 and to recruit new members. There was plenty of enthusiasm as boys, parents, and grandparents stopped by the tables to talk about Scouting and get more information. Several Scouts got up to read a short presentation after each Mass and received enthusiastic applause. Oh, and the doughnuts went fast too.