By: Michele DiPasquale
In 2019, it’s fair to speculate that many time-honored American customs have gone by the wayside. Fortunately, The Boy Scouts of America is a resilient tradition that still resonates even today. And since 1929, BSA Troop 17 of Denville has been going strong, and – commencing with a formal evening dinner – celebrates its 90th anniversary on June 8th.
Denville’s Troop 17, like all Scout troops, strives for and practices service toward others, respect for the community, country, animals and the environment, and the world in general. By practicing the Scout method and utilizing fun and engaging outdoor games, Scouts are challenged to solve problems by themselves in a group-based, familial setting. Hands-on orientation provides a practical method of learning and helps build confidence. Activities and games, the pursuit of merit badges, camping trips, contests, aquatic sports, hiking, and other outdoor events offer an appealing way to develop skills with nature and the environment while bonding Scouts to their Troop.
Developing the characteristics of responsibility, self-confidence, and readiness, the Scouts eventually learn collaboration and leadership skills, as they work to overcome challenges and obstacles through planning, practice, and following through.
A moral code of positivity to express kindness, courtesy, trustworthiness, thoughtfulness, good citizenship, sportsmanship, and care toward others is pursued by every Scout. Being close to nature helps Scouts gain an appreciation for the natural world and our responsibility to conserve natural resources.
The patrol method is the most fundamental concept that defines the Scout program. Developed when the Scout way
of life began in the late 19th century by founder Robert Baden-Powell, the Patrol method and Scout method are the educational system used in order to train Scouts to have good character and a goal of helping others. The Scout way helps boys to work together and succeed at accomplishing minor and major tasks, earning merit badges, cooking skills, outdoor activities, sports, contests, and community service opportunities.
To date,121 Scouts have achieved Eagle Scout status at Troop 17 since it’s formation, way back in 1929.
Sponsored by the Denville Community Church to pioneer a new, local Boy Scout troop, parents and adults met formally with the Denville PTA, and on Halloween 1929, Troop 17 was officially born.
During those early days, meetings were held on Friday evenings at the old schoolhouse in Denville, in a room heated by a pot-bellied stove. Every Scout was responsible for bringing firewood to each and every meeting. The Troop’s only other equipment consisted of blackboards, a phonograph, benches, and bulletin boards.
Denville’s PTA vigilantly watched over Troop 17, with the obligation from the Troop leaders that they would report regularly on activities and progress (in addition to those already required by the Boy Scouts of America). In 1933, the razing of the old schoolhouse made it necessary to find a new home for Troop 17, so the meeting place moved to the Denville Community Church in 1934.
The BSA charters local organizations like churches, clubs, civic associations, or educational organizations to implement the Scouting program for young people within their communities. Volunteers are appointed by the chartering organization, who are supported by local councils using both paid professional Scouts and volunteers.
Having fun is one of the best reasons to be a Boy Scout, and Troop 17’s calendar is packed with activity. In addition to
regular Wednesday evening meetings, the Troop is planning a camping trip to Kittatinny Valley State Park for mountain biking, hiking, fishing, and camping; a spring band concert; an anniversary dinner; a canoe trip; a trip to High Point State Park in Sussex; a camping trip to McMillan Woods in Gettysburg, PA; a Jockey Hollow camping trip; a Mount Hope cabin trip; the Klondike Derby at Settlers Camp, Trexler Scout Reservation in Kunkletown, PA; an indoor wall climb at North Summit Climbing Gym in Wind Gap, PA; the survivor camporee at Round Valley Youth Center in Lebanon, a camping trip to Carlisle, PA; Troop 17 Summer Camp at Mt. Allamuchy Scout Reservation in Stanhope, and Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.
Troop 17 is legendary. “It helped my sons learn leadership skills, assistance with merit badges, ability to have conversations with adults at an early age.” said parent Michael Baresh.
Mr. Albert Green, the current Scoutmaster, joined Troop 17 in 1947 and rose through the ranks until he reached Eagle Scout status in 1952. Mr. Green graduated from Dover High School in 1953, proudly served in the U.S. Army, and in Fall of 1956 returned to Troop 17 as an advisor and assistant Scoutmaster to an Explorer crew. In Autumn of 1959, Mr. Green took the reigns as official Scoutmaster and continues to do so to this day. In addition to Eagle Scout status, Scoutmaster Green has earned the Scouter’s Key, Wood Badge, District Award of Merit, and the Silver Beaver, Scouting’s highest Council level award. Moreover, Scoutmaster Green has worked for 16 years with the Red Cross as a water safety instructor, followed by 12 years on the Denville Board of Education. He is a rifle and pistol instructor for the National Rifle Association, an Elder at the First Memorial Presbyterian Church in Dover, and serves on the Board of Directors for St. Peter’s Group home in Denville. Upon his return from the army in 1956, Mr. Green became a partner at A.F. Green & Son Builders of Denville. Since his retirement in 2000, Mr. Green is a licensed NJ Construction official and building inspector. Scoutmaster Green and his wife, Marilyn, married in 1957, and their children, Beth and Ron, continued their dad’s scouting legacy: both Marilyn and Beth were very active in the Girl Scouts, and Ron achieved Eagle Scout status in 1977.
“He truly has trained young boys to become young men,” said John Tucker, parent at Troop 17.
Troop 17 boasts 121 Eagle Scouts to date, the very pinnacle of success as a Scout. Some examples of projects that
Scouts may take on to reach Eagle Scout status are the creation of a beautiful memorial butterfly garden, trugs for seniors to do stand up gardening, refurbishing of war hero memorials, town beautification, bat and owl nesting boxes, and historic cemetery restoration. Troop 17 set up hundreds of tents in New York City for the Annual Avon Breast Cancer Walk for walkers to spend the night.
“It’s important for people to volunteer on some level in the towns in which they live, simply because we are a society, not individuals operating in personal vacuums. Just as we take pride in raising our children to be responsible citizens, so should we set the example that where we live is important, the environment is important, and assisting in projects with like-minded citizens is important,” said Mark Harrison, a member of Troop 17’s parents.