(Courtesy of Troop 613) This has been an incredible year for scouting from just about every perspective. The Pack (elementary school-aged boys) and Troop (middle- and high-school boys) have received awards and recognition from Boy Scouts of America for its phenomenal growth in recruitment and retention of scouts as 613 continues to thrive and grow. In seven short years, the Westchester Pack and Troop have become the second-largest Jewish troop on the East Coast, with almost 60 boys and continued interest within the community.
The end-of-year fun started in late April when the boys began building cars, complete with racing stripes, to race in a Pinewood Derby, which was held in the Scout’s large social hall on Sunday, May 7. Twenty-five cars raced for the Cub scouts and 16 cars for the Girl Scouts. The Scouts turned the Beth El synagogue of New Rochelle’s social hall into a race track with spectator stands. For the first time, the Scouts used a real Pinewood Derby racing track that they purchased, equipped with computer-controlled timers monitoring all of the cars and their speeds. There were two winners, one with the fastest overall speed and the other for the slowest overall speed.
The very next week, on Sunday, May 14, an Eagle Scout Service project was completed. A kayak rack was designed and assembled at Liberty Park in White Plains for the White Plains Department of Parks and Recreation. This project allowed the Parks and Recreation department to store kayaks at the park in order to offer kayaking on Silver Lake, something never possible until now. The Scouts are proud of their development and hope the community enjoys this new activity in White Plains.
The biggest family scouting event of the year occurred over Memorial Day weekend, when all of the Jewish Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops along the East Coast came together to attend the New Jersey Kinus, near the Delaware Water Gap. It is one of the few fully integrated family camping events, with about 250 attendees. As in years past, Troop 613 had the largest showing, comprising of 16 families and 52 people.
The Scouts can’t forget June 4, the HIWP testimonial dinner, where the boys came in to lead a flag ceremony for the dinner, something never previously done. The boys also acted as the color guard that morning at the Salute to Israel Parade—which had been done four times prior.
The scouting season came to a close on the highest possible note. On June 25, HIWP hosted an Eagle Scout Court of Honor ceremony for two boys in the troop, with over 100 people in attendance, including many dignitaries. An Eagle award is the highest honor awarded to a boy and the pinnacle of the scouting movement. Only about 4 percent of all scouts in America master the skills necessary to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout due to the difficulty and discipline required. This ceremony is meant to honor them for their tremendous accomplishments. It is an experience they will remember their entire lives.