A Brief History of Troop 22
Let’s start by saying Bloomfield, NJ was and still is a great place to “Live, Work and Own a Business.” If one were to see Bloomfield for the first time in the 1980s he would agree this was a good place to be. Like many towns close to New York City, it had a separate, distinct character all its own, and a very different atmosphere than just being a suburb of the great city. As time has passed, the town has grown and been built out. Industry that once thrived in Bloomfield has moved on and their plants and real estate have been converted to housing. There is more and more pressure from New York City to expand housing in the towns of northern New Jersey. But still even today, Bloomfield, and our neighboring town Nutley, have remained very desirable places to live.
But way back in 1940, things were much different. Many of the homes we see in our area were not yet built. The Garden State Parkway did not exist. Watchung Ave did not rise up as high as it is seen now over the Garden State Parkway. It was a gentle slope up to East Passaic Ave. with a small rise, just enough to clear the defunct Morris Canal. The canal had suffered as a result of losing business to the Central New Jersey Railroad as far back as 1881 and the last canal boats to travel along the waterway floated in 1922. The canal was drained in 1934 and parts of it were already demolished by 1940.
The southbound ramp for Exit 151 on the Garden State Parkway is built on the Morris Canal. This section of the canal is actually level with the intersection of Hoover Ave and JFK Drive further south in Bloomfield, which was the top of the Inclined Plane #11 East. This inclined plane is significant in that it once raised 87 ½ ft. long canal boats weighing 25 tons to a stretch of level waters north from Hoover Ave, continuing eleven miles into Clifton. The section of the canal at Exit 151 is part of that stretch, and is the longest level section of the Morris Canal, passing right by what is now St. Thomas.
Further south, around what is now JFK Drive, the town built an athletic field for Bloomfield High School near the bottom of the inclined plane. This is the present day Foley Field. It was constructed in 1934, so in 1940 it was a fairly new facility.
Near the bottom of that same inclined plane was the site of the first New Jersey “jug handle” as the canal towpath switched over from the eastern side to the western side. Mules would walk under the James St. Bridge and then reverse back up and over the bridge crossing over the canal to the towpath on the western side. What is now JFK Drive was not even paved at the time. Today, there is a rise along JFK Drive at every major intersection. This is because the Morris Canal bridges at each major intersection were simply filled in up to the height of the bridge when the canal was drained.
In 1940, trains were the main mode of travel. The Newark City Subway line that served Franklin St. in Bloomfield had just been completed in 1937. It was built along the route of the Morris Canal beginning in 1935, but had to wait 2 years to begin full operation until the completion of Penn Station, Newark. Newark Airport was only about 12 years old, having opened in 1928, but was already the busiest commercial airport in the world. But in 1941, because of the Second World War, the US military would commandeer the airport for the duration of the war.
Hey sports fans, in 1940:
- the baseball world witnessed America’s Fall Classic, with the Cincinnati Reds narrowly defeating the Detroit Tigers 4 games to 3 in the World Series.
- The NFL (consisting of just 10 teams) saw the Chicago Bears trounce the Washington Redskins 73 – 0 in their championship held at Griffith Stadium in Washington D.C. on December 8th.
- The NBA did not exist, although there were quite a few leagues that predate the current league.
- And for hockey fans, the NHL was in its 24th That year, out of seven teams in the league, the Boston Bruins swept the Detroit Red Wings for the Stanley Cup. The New York Rangers were defending champions, having won the Stanley Cup for the 1939-1940 season. (For serious hockey fans, the seventh team was called the New York Americans, which was the first New York City hockey team. As a trivia note for all sports fans, the “Amerks” were the first professional team in any sport to wear their surnames on the back of their jerseys.)
But world events would soon take a huge precedence over sports. Just about a year later, Pearl Harbor was bombed and the innocent time for Bloomfield and the rest of the country would end. As the United States entered the Second World War, Bloomfield industry would play a vital role in world events. The Westinghouse Lamp plant developed and produced uranium light bulb filaments, a very valuable contribution to the Manhattan Project (atomic bomb). The Charms Blow Pop Company, established in Bloomfield in 1912, manufactured candies that were included in the rations for US soldiers. An Eastern Aircraft Division of General Motors: the Delco Remy Battery Plant was located in Bloomfield, near the 15th Lock. (What is now near West St. just north of Montgomery St.) It produced batteries for the Grumman aircraft that dominated the air war in the Pacific theater.
As for Scouting in Bloomfield
Many churches and organizations in Bloomfield sponsored scout troops, including one of the oldest troops in the country. Troop 2, sponsored by the Presbyterian Church on the Green, is believed to be the second troop established in the United States. As a side note: at one time there were at least seven scout troops active in Bloomfield (Troop 2, Troop 4, Troop 14, Troop 22, Troop 23, Troop 27, Troop 28).
The Boy Scouts of America were making a mark in American society. Just under 4,000 scouts participated in a campout at the 1939 Worlds Fair in New York, and there were plans for a huge Jamboree in Washington D.C. but the event was cancelled due to a polio outbreak. Millionaire Waite Philips had just donated a huge tract of land in the Sangre DeCristo Mountains, part of the Rocky Mountain chain. This land is now known as the Philmont Scout Ranch. The Boy Scouts were a large organization, with over 1,391,831 scouts. Keep in mind, that the combined forces of the United States Army and Navy, prior to World War II, were less than 450,000 soldiers and sailors.
Composer Irving Berlin revised a song that he wrote in 1918, for a show called “Yip Yip Yaphank. ” “God Bless America” is often remembered from Kate Smith’s version of 1938. Mr. Berlin donated the royalties from “God Bless America” to the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts in New York in to help further the scouting movement.
And so we begin…
Archbishop Thomas Joseph Walsh of the Archdiocese of Newark canonically established the Parish of St. Thomas the Apostle on January 26, 1939. On June 17th, 1939, Fr. Thomas J. Herron received a letter informing him that he was to be the pastor of the new parish. One week later on June 25th, 1939 he celebrated the first Mass of St. Thomas the Apostle Church. This new parish got off to a great start and had plans to build a church and a school immediately, In August the ground was broken for the new (combined) church and school building. Clearly there was a great motivation to develop programs for its youth, including scouting. The date for the beginning of the parish explains why Troop 22 was predated by so many other Troops in the Bloomfield area.
But far away in Europe, there were the rumblings of mass conflict and people were already suffering with the political upheaval and the rise to power of the Nazi party in Germany.
Our Sponsoring Organization
In the midst of all that was going on in 1940, a group of parishioners from the new Holy Name Society of St Thomas the Apostle Parish joined in and started a Boy Scout troop. To this day, The Holy Name Society remains as the sponsoring organization of Troop 22. Troop 22 has always been grateful to the St. Thomas parishioners for their support over the years. St Thomas School was opened in September of 1940, and it makes sense that Troop began its recruiting a month or two into that same school year.
The oldest records of the Troop indicate a strong recruiting drive around Thanksgiving, 1940. A Mr. O’Mara was the first Scoutmaster of Troop 22. The records also indicate a Scoutmaster Cumming, for 1941, SM Lockwood for 1942, then SM Peck in 1943 and 1944. (It is possible that the scoutmasters listed in 41-42 were Assistant Scoutmasters helping with the duties of registration as Mr. O’Mara’s name is also on records from this time.) However Mr. O’Mara does not appear on registration after 1942.
The troop recruited 24 boys as scouts between November 25 and December 9th 1940. This number reflects two transfers, one form Troop 14 and another from Troop 5. The first charter for the troop was granted by the Boy Scouts of America to the Holy Name Society of St. Thomas the Apostle Church on January 31st 1941. So the Official Charter and starting date for Troop 22 are recorded as such. (In keeping with tradition, we are celebrating the anniversary at the close of the year we turned 75).
Applications for the Boy Scouts tell an interesting story. For a boy to join, he had to be at least 12 years old. The original applications are very specific that no exceptions could be made. The registration fee was about 20 cents for a boy. All of the applications were hand written, and the penmanship tells us more. Some of the parents held very striking signatures, a mark of pride back then. The handwriting shows different education levels and foreign penmanship is also recognizable, especially with the Irish surnames. The boys, too, had to sign their own applications. If the mother signed the application her occupation was usually listed as housewife, or not at all. In one case Mrs. Kelly signed for her husband, but did not list her occupation, only her husband’s, as sea captain. By 1944 this changes, and more of the mothers list occupations in industry. For the most part the boys who joined the troop in the early days were of Irish, Polish, German and Italian ancestry. This is no surprise, given the population of Bloomfield and the nationality of the parishioners of St. Thomas at the time. It is obvious that the Second World War affected everyone.
The 1950s saw the beginnings of the Cold War, and the Eisenhower presidency had to deal with a rapidly changing world. International events were on everyone’s mind, and the power of the Soviet Union was a concern all over the world. After the Soviets launched the Sputnik satellite in 1957 President Eisenhower authorized the formation of NASA, and the space race began. The Fifties saw the classic American automobiles, but also the possibility of nuclear war. This was on everyone’s mind.
This is a time that saw a huge change in the Boy Scout movement. It is the time of the baby boom, with veterans returning from World War II starting families. On a national level the Boy Scouts topped the 3 million mark for the first time in 1952. Scouting was on the rise. The leadership for scout troops was comprised of many World War Two veterans who brought their conservative values and military experience to the scouts.
There were many young boys growing up to scout age and there were many fathers anxious to spend time with their sons. This type of family is what they had thought of during the war years and now it had come to fruition. Scouting provided a way to for boys to learn from Dad and also for Dad to learn about their boys. It is always a good thing to grow together and this is one of the many blessings of scouting. It remains unique, something not found in a classroom, or on the athletic field.
The troop records show a number of new scouts registering with addresses from the streets along Broughton Ave. There were many new homes constructed along these side streets during the late 1940s and early 1950s. The families that moved in now had boys of scouting age. In addition, Bloomfield had its own Levittown in the form of new Cape Cod styled houses being built off of Coeyman Ave. Many of these homes were built in the early 1950s.
At this time too, a new and dominating feature would change Bloomfield forever, as the construction of the Garden State Parkway began in 1947. This new road, modeled after the Autobahn in Germany and the Merritt Parkway in Connecticut, was built to allow the residents of Northern New Jersey quick and direct access to the Jersey Shore. The project started at what is now exits 129 to 140, and extended both north and south from there. The route of the GSP put it right through the center of Bloomfield, dividing the town along its length, almost right down the middle.
Troop 22 recorded about 60 new scouts joining during the 1950s. Given the number of scouts already in the troop and allowing for boys leaving, it is safe to estimate the size of the troop at somewhere between 30 and 50 scouts.
The 1960s were a time of great change in America! New president John F. Kennedy –young, Irish and Catholic – represented that change. He made the statement that the torch had been passed to a new generation of Americans. At his inauguration President Kennedy turned to the nation and to the world, and issued a challenge to greatness as he said:
“And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you-
-ask what you can do for your country.
My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you,
but what together we can do for the freedom of man.”
President Kennedy also set a goal that before the decade was out we should put a man on the moon and return him safely to earth. This was accomplished on July 20th 1969. Sadly, Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, less than six years from the accomplishment of this goal.
It was an exciting time and a great time, but the 1960s would see a generation oppose conservative values, and become less willing to make the sacrifices that their fathers made in WWII and Korea. They became disillusioned.
Scouting continued to thrive during the 1960s. Membership in the BSA exceeded 6.2 million Scouts and leaders. The Troop records reflect more and more scouts coming from the areas to the east of East Passaic Ave and from Nutley. As the Parish of St. Thomas expanded, so did the registry of the scout troop. Troop 22 boomed in terms of new scouts during the 1960s. Over 130 applications to join the troop were processed. As with any organization, members come and go. Some boys stay with scouting for a long time and others only embrace the program for a few months or a year. On some of the registration applications, there are notes of when the scouts left the troop.
It is of particular note that many scouts in Troop 22 are noted as having gone from Troop to Post. This indicates that the troop may have started an Explorer Post to keep the older and more experienced scouts active in scouting, or that there was one in the area. During the 1960s the troop had 12 Eagle Scouts. Of special interest are the Fitzmaurice bothers, Joseph, Kevin and Brian who attained the rank in 1965, 1966 & 1968.
It is during this era that the Troop began to attend summer camp at Resica Falls Scout Reservation in the Poconos, Pennsylvania. The idea made sense, as the Poconos was a relatively close destination in1965.
Scouting showed the largest membership tally ever in 1972, with over 6.5 million registered scouts and scouters. But the early ‘70s marked a shift in attitudes towards the scouting movement. The backlash towards the Vietnam War and the military affected the attitudes towards scouting. It wasn’t cool to be a scout. The number of scouts would never again reach the numbers seen in the 1970s.
1973 marked the completion of Route 80 in New Jersey. This made the trip to summer camp at Resica Falls even easier.
Troop 22 apparently remained strong, producing 13 Eagle Scouts by 1975. Up to 1975, a man named Tony Joyce was the Scoutmaster. The troop participated in the Klondike Derby at Garret Mountain. Some of the parents made the sleds for the activity, and some of those sleds are still in use today (wow!).
Of a special and somber note is one of the Eagle Scouts of 1974, Charles “Chipper” Buchinsky. Although Charles was a bright young man and had promise for higher education, he went to work after high school, to help his family. It is understood that not all young men and women get the opportunity for college, a situation that was even more common in the 1970s than it is today. For Chipper, his family situation was the reason he did not attend college. Unfortunately, Chipper Buchinsky was killed in an industrial accident not long after attaining the rank of Eagle Scout.
We know that there was a strong bond in the Troop, because the Troop Committee established the Charles “Chipper” Buchinsky Scholarship Fund to contribute to other Eagle Scouts’ opportunities for a higher education. This tradition has been kept alive regardless of troop finances. Originally, it was presented to one Eagle Scout per year, but today it is awarded to all Eagle Scouts who qualify. The requirements for the scholarship are: 1. Be active in the troop until turning 18; 2. Complete high school education; 3. Continue education in an institute of higher learning or enter service in the United States military.
In 1976, Mr. Rich Bonelli became the Scoutmaster. Things were good for Troop 22. With strong adult leadership including 19 active adults on the Troop Committee or serving as ASMs the troop thrived. In addition there were at least 10 dedicated parents actively involved with the troop. The troop averaged about 45-50 scouts on the roster.
The Troop Committee raised money for the troop with fundraisers of an aluminum drive and the annual wreath sale in which all of the scouts participated. Mr. Bonelli set a high standard for the troop. They participated in the Klondike Derby annually, and camped at least 4 times per year. Some of the camps they attended were Camp Maryheart, Turkey Swamp, and Conklin Scout Reservation. The troop continued the tradition of attending summer camp at Resica Falls — they would continue this tradition until 1996.
Advancement was very important to the scouts and leaders of Troop 22 under Mr. Bonelli’s tenure. They held several Courts of Honor per year, which indicates that the scouts were completing a lot of merit badges and advancements.
One matter of pride for the troop was that they always strived for 100% “Ad Altare Dei” awards. This is the Catholic medal awarded by the Catholic Committee on Scouting.
During the 6 years that Mr. Bonelli was Scoutmaster, the Troop was very proud of many scouts earning the highest rank in scouting, Eagle Scout. Mr. Bonelli is very proud of the 29 Eagle Scouts of his tenure.
The Troop tried to do a special campout each year. One of the trips was to Washington D.C. where the troop managed to stay at Bolling Air Force Base. They were able to use the gym, the game room and the bowling alley on the base and also the cafeteria. Scouts also got to see the sights including the Air and Space Museum, the Capitol Building and Arlington National Cemetery. Other great campouts included the Battleship Massachusetts, West Point and Boston. At year’s end the Troop invited Webelos from the pack to join them at the Turkey Swamp camp out.
The strong numbers in the troop carried on into the 1980s. We can tell that the troop was still very active, because 17 Scouts made it to Eagle Scout during the decade. However, somewhere inn the late 1980s, St. Thomas’ Cub Pack 22 began to fade, and this would eventually affect the troop. After 1985 scouts became less in number. At the annual wreath sale outside of St. Thomas Church, there would be only one or two scouts selling wreaths.
At the start of the decade, there was no Cub Pack in St. Thomas. Somewhere around 1991, Dr. Michael Credico and another parent had gone to register their sons in the pack, only to find out that there wasn’t any. Dr. Credico is an Eagle Scout and so Scouting to him, was extremely important. He wanted his son to have the same opportunity to become an Eagle. He and the other parent decided to revive the Pack so that their sons could enjoy all that scouting had to offer. The pack started off small but it began to grow as the program was delivered. Soon the pack was doing well and many of the parents and leaders of Pack 22 enjoyed their participation. This would have a profound impact on Troop 22. Within a very short time, that nonexistent Cub Pack would explode in size. In very short order, over the next 3 years, the Pack had 60 or so Cubs following the Cub Scout motto of “Do Your Best.”
Meanwhile in Troop 22…. Mr. Charlie Kovacs volunteered to be the Scoutmaster. The troop, however, had lost some of its luster. It had become harder to compete with sports. Between the non-existence of the Cub Pack and the loss of adult leadership the Troop was down to just 13 scouts on the roster, 3 of whom were Mr. Kovacs’ sons (all of whom became Eagle).
The troop committee was small and the troop struggled with a limited resources. Mr. Kovacs was a dedicated scout leader, but it should be noted that the success of a scout troop greatly depends on how many adult leaders can help. All small troops struggle because the tasks required for fundraising, planning and execution of program are so great it is simply too much work for a small group of volunteers. The parents and leaders who were such a strong force for Mr. Bonelli had since moved on, as their sons grew too old for scouting. So the ebb and flow of leadership had an impact that was felt by all involved with the Troop.
As for the outdoor program, there were still 4 or 5 campouts per year, and the Troop still participated in the Klondike Derby. The Troop still went to Glen Gray and Camp Tamarac, and sometimes in winter to Resica Falls. But with a limited budget some of the extra bigger better trips seemed out of reach. The excitement of going to Washington or Boston just wasn’t possible. Advancement, which was once a matter of pride, had become frustrating for the scouts. The troop needed help. Scouts were leaving the troop in part because of this frustration.
But 1993 saw the influx of a number of scouts bridging over from the now thriving Cub Pack. The troop grew by about 6 or 8 scouts. Mr. Kovacs worked at recruiting more adult help, and Mr. Bonelli and Mr. Burgess were still active in the committee, even though their own sons had long since passed the age of scouting. They felt that it was important that the troop remain active. It was still a relatively small troop, but that was about to change. Dr. Credico and some of the parents who had participated in the Cub Pack now become involved with Scout Troop 22 as their sons became of age. Mr. Kovacs was getting more help and the Troop began to prosper.
In 1995, 6 Webelo Scouts bridged in from Pack 22, but a den from Pack 23 also bridged in with 6 more Webelos. This marked a huge change. Effectively the Troop doubled in size. But even better, there came parental involvement. The parents that came with the new scouts were devoted, enthusiastic and happy to participate. This was the cavalry that Mr. Bonelli and Mr. Burgess had held out for. At the time both men were glad to hand over the troop to good hands.
In 1995 new adult leaders also emerged. The Troop gained the services of Mrs. Michele Bruhn. Mrs. Bruhn brought the den from Pack 23. She proved to be an excellent resource and an expert on scouting. It seems that she had read all the rules, and all the books on how to best run a scout troop. Mrs. Bruhn also had extensive experience and success running Pack 23 as their Cubmaster. She volunteered to become the Troop Secretary. Mrs. Bruhn’s contributions to the Troop were enormous! She was responsible for much of the research for many new adventures and her work on the ”Year End Trips” saved the Troop a fortune, while providing some of the most exciting and enlightening campouts possible. While she was expert as our Troop Secretary, Mrs. Bruhn was also not afraid to camp out with the troop. Sometimes she would step in at the very last minute to attend a campout so that we would have enough adult leadership, and not have to cancel the trip and disappoint the scouts.
Mr. Karl Hughes served as a Webelos Den Leader in Cub Pack 22 for 1993 – 1994. During 1994 he volunteered to help the Troop as an Assistant Scoutmaster before becoming Scoutmaster in 1995. Early on a promise was made that there would be 18 Eagle Scouts in the next five years. One parent asked how that would be as there were only about that many scouts at meetings. The answer was that they would be your sons!
After learning a little about how to run a scout troop form BSA training, Mr. Hughes decided to build a bigger, better troop. According to the BSA, the best troops had the most success when there were more than 21 scouts. We were almost at that number consistently showing up. We were poised to become an excellent troop. Troop 22 could return to proud status and membership it once had.
At summer camp that year, the scouts stood on the parade field at Resica Falls, and were told that when the camp formation was dismissed that they should yell out “Like a Soaring Eagle!” This would be our chant, our cheer, from now on. One of the 15 or so scouts at camp noted that we were a small group and said: ” But Mr. Hughes, all those other troops will laugh at us.” The response he got was: “Don’t worry about that, they won’t laugh for long.” Yes, that day some of the other troops did laugh. But just three years later at Camp Tuscarora in New York State, 40+ scouts stood on the parade field, and yelled “Like a Soaring Eagle!” and the rest of the camp stood silent, wondering where did that come from? The answer was, of course, from Troop 22, Bloomfield New Jersey! No one was laughing anymore. More than one scout leader was envious of the pride and enthusiasm of Troop 22.
“Recruit, recruit, recruit!” was Mr. Hughes’s motto. He strongly believed in a very active program and very disciplined troop. In order to run a large troop, both are necessary. But he also discovered something. For every 10 scouts involved, one or two parents will become involved. This would help with the workload. The activities had to be fun and exciting from a boy’s perspective. And so Troop 22 began to take on many adventures and challenges. Mr. Hughes recruited scouts among any boy that was of scouting age in Northern New Jersey. One of his favorite spots to recruit new scouts was among the players left on the bench of organized sports. Sometimes they wanted to have fun and be involved but it just didn’t happen for them in the competition of league play. That made them a target for the excitement Troop 22 had to offer. In competing with sports for the attention of the boys, Troop 22 took on the position of encouraging the boys to play sports and then encouraging them to come back and have some more fun with the scouts.
There is one important adult leader that Mr. Hughes did manage to recruit. During 1995, Mr. Hughes attended Wood Badge NE II 72. The man who had recruited him to attend this course was course director and Scoutmaster Mr. Lee White. To say that Lee White was amazing is an understatement. Lee belonged to Troop 100 as a scout in San Diego, California where he became an Eagle Scout in 1941. He had a very successful football career as a quarterback in high school and college, and made it all the way to the Los Angeles Rams football team. But there were two other Hall of Fame QBs on the team already, Norm Van Brocklin and Bob Waterfield, and they only kept two. So, as he used to say, he had a cup of coffee in the NFL. His military record in the Korean War included the Distinguished Service Cross the Silver Star, the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart. He belonged to the 51st Special Operations Group, which were among the forerunners of Special Forces units.
Mr. White was a legend in scouting. He received the Silver Beaver and Silver Antelope Awards. He designed the cover for the Boy Scout Handbook, and literally wrote a book for the scouting program called Woods Wisdom. This is a huge volume that can be used for years to run a program, without repetition. As Dr. Credico put it, he was the Pied Piper of Scouting. To top every thing off, he was the nicest man in the world. Lee had that gift of being able to make everyone he met feel special and important. One of his favorite lines was ‘Hey pal, would an Indian lie?”
Lee White had been a scout leader with Troop 23 for many years and helped many scouts along the way to achieve Eagle Scout. But by 1995 Lee was active on the Council level of Scouting as a Roundtable Commissioner and on the National level, building the program with Woods Wisdom. He had been away from the scout troop level for many years. When asked would he like to spend a night or two helping Troop 22 get their program energized he agreed to spend a little time with us. The rest, as they say, was history, as he became an integral part of the troop, mentoring our Scouts for many years.
For the next seventeen years until his passing in January of 2012 Lee White supplied many ideas and promoted the scouting program to the youngest scouts. He started them off with a few silly jokes and a few little tricks and motivated them to become the finest scouts anywhere. He was a master of deception. He got kids big and small to listen and play, without them ever knowing that he was actually imparting important lessons for scouting and the outdoors, but also for life.
For this brief history let us just say that in large part the current success of Troop 22 is because of Lee.
Many leaders contributed to the development of a deep program, with options and adventures to keep Scouts engaged. We have mentioned Mrs. Bruhn who served brilliantly as Troop Secretary in managing a large troop. Mr. Adrian Roberts and Mr. Bob Kudrak started a tradition that continues to this day: the Hike of the Month Club. They simply set out to go on one hike. They called each other and asked: “Are you going?” “Yeah, ok me too!” This brilliantly simple idea offered Scouts a monthly opportunity to hike locally in the great outdoors, and contributed greatly to the both the skills and camaraderie of the troop. Since its beginning, the HOTMC crew has hiked enough miles to more than circle the earth. The hikes are always fun and it is one of the things that makes Troop 22 a great troop to be a part of.
In 1997 Mr. Hughes was selected to be the Scoutmaster for Essex Council Jamboree Troop #407. About a dozen scouts from the troop travelled to Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia and had an absolute ball at the Jamboree. They participated in all sorts of activities including the Army Action center, Scuba diving, BMX cycling, patch trading etc. One of our Scouts, Nathaniel Frissell, earned his ham radio operator’s license while at the Jamboree. This is something he is still active with today. In 2001 during the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in NYC, Nathaniel used the skills he learned in the Jamboree as he and other ham operators were able to coordinate communications between the NYFD and other emergency personnel, transmitting radio signals bounced from Florida and other points south back to NYC. “To help other people at all times.” We often point to Nathaniel’s experience to illustrate that you never know what unique skill a boy is introduced to via Scouting will change his life and impact others.
The adventures continued and Troop 22 established a tradition of going on 4-day special “Year End” trips. Among these were trips to Cape Cod, Niagara Falls, Gettysburg, Boston, and Washington D.C.
It should be mentioned that the goal of having 18 scouts attain Eagle was actually happening. In 1996 George Kovacs earned the rank of Eagle Scout. He was the first of many more yet to come from this new generation of Scouts. By the close of the millennium, Troop 22 would have 13 more Eagle Scouts to its credit bringing the total since the inception of the troop to 71.
2001 brought the shock and sadness of the terrorist attacks of 9-11. That day greatly affected all of us in the United States. Because of our close proximity to New York City many of our members were personally affected by the attacks. Our troop Treasurer Mr. Ed Zilinski was fortunate to escape falling debris from the towers and lucky to board one of the last subway trains departing the area.
Troop 22 grew to more than 90 Scouts during this time and was regarded in the Northern New Jersey Council as the “ Beast in the East.” One of its district executives was asked how did that troop get to be so big and so successful. His answer was the truth. Troop 22 simply followed three books: The Guide to Safe Scouting, The Boy Scout Handbook and Woods Wisdom. Troop 22 has maintained a simple, straightforward philosophy: to deliver the promise of scouting for one reason and one reason alone. “For the Boys.”
As the Troop grew and the influx of new Scouts matured, the adventures really began. The Troop twice sent a crew of Scouts and leaders to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, in 2000, and again in 2004. Philmont is considered to be the Summit of Scouting and the most challenging High Adventure base.
Troop 22 also took to the high seas multiple times with crews participating in a Bahamas adventure – manning and actually working sailing ships in the Sea of Abaco. This was started in 2001 with return trips in 2004, 2008, and 2016.
Troop growth led to a change in the location of summer camp after 1996. The troop summered at several locations including Joseph Citta (NJ) and Forestburg (NY) before settling into Camp Rodney on the Delaware Bay for almost 20 years. As of 2018 Troop 22 will attend summer camp at Camp Keowa, which is part of the Greater New York Council Ten Mile River Scout Camps.
The Troop was again fortunate to enjoy strong adult leadership that allowed it to run programs for 60+ scouts. Several fundraising events joined the wreath sale – an adult bowlathon and a sports marathon, both still going strong, proved to be fun ways to support the troop.
New programs were introduced, including the Sportsman’s Club events, under the guidance of Mr. Ryan. These one-day opportunities to shoot, fish, and explore nature provide another way for the Scouts to participate and try new skills.
2006 saw the end of Mr. Hughes’ tenure as Scoutmaster. His goal of building the best troop was reality. The 18 Eagle Scouts? Well, there were a few more than that. As of this writing, the Troop Committee and the Scoutmasters and Assistant Scoutmasters should be very proud that Troop 22 has produced 96 Eagle Scouts since 1996 bringing the total for the troop to 155.
Mr. Hughes decided that 10 years as Scoutmaster was enough. But his reason to step away form the best job in scouting was not to leave the troop. During his time as a Trainer for the Northern New Jersey Council, he had noticed something. Some troops retained the same Scoutmaster for long periods of time. Unfortunately, when those scoutmasters left, their troops often went into a decline. Mr. Hughes decided that he could stay on forever as Scoutmaster, but that it would be in the best interest of the troop to allow others the opportunity to lead. It would be better to have leaders whose sons were still active in the troop to take on that role.
Mr. Hughes was succeeded as Scoutmaster by Mr. James Mulligan. Mr. Mulligan continued with the traditions of the troop and the Troop continued with a large membership and great success with Eagle Scouts. It was good to see Mr. Mulligan stand beside his son as he was awarded the Rank of Eagle Scout. Mr. Mulligan continues to serve the Troop even today as the Sponsoring Organization Representative.
Jim was succeeded by Jack Fitzmaurice as Scoutmaster, but unfortunately, duties form work shortened Jack’s tenure. Mr. Glenn Kyle took over from there, and worked extremely hard at maintaining the high standards. Mr. Kyle had served for many years as the Cubmaster for Pack 22 and had pumped up the enrollment of the Pack to more than 60 Cubs. He kept things rolling in the troop. Mr. Glenn Ryan also took the reins as Scoutmaster. Glenn brought a light-hearted flair of discovery to the troop. His easy manner was infectious to the scouts, but yet the integrity of running a high quality scout troop was and is always there.
The idea that each of these Scoutmasters had a turn to run the troop has worked out well. Troop 22 has avoided the drop off in membership that sometimes occurs when the long-term scoutmaster leaves. The Troop has benefitted from the different styles of leadership, and from the personal preferences and insights that each successive leader has brought.
Along the way Troop 22 incorporated the services of a Quartermaster who will be remembered forever. Mr. Frank Molinaro not only kept all of the troop gear in order, but also organized some of the best trips the troop has undertaken.
He has served the troop well in this capacity since his son joined the troop 2009. Mr. Molinaro has developed a Quartermasters Corps among the boys. This has become not just a position for advancement, but a job to take pride in. It has proved a challenge for many of the boys to live up to the standards of the “OCD Quartermaster” Mr. M.
We should not go on any further without recognizing the stalwart services of the Coffee Commissar, Mr. John Picinich. Mr. P volunteered for the position of Advancement Chair way back in 1994. Back when the troop was struggling with advancement, he was asked to fulfill that role. Scouts were frustrated and many things were lacking at the time. Mr. Picinich knew almost nothing about scouting, and freely admitted that his one and only scouting skill was being able to make coffee. Yet Mr. P took on the roll of advancement chair and performed the duties impeccably. For 22 years, without fail, Mr. Picinich kept the records of each and every boy’s advancements and made sure that each scout got the merit badges and ranks that he had earned. No scout was ever left short of an advancement he deserved. When Mr. P retired from the troop in 2017, we knew we had lost one of our best. Every single Scout involved with Troop 22 should hold Mr. P with high regard as the unsung hero who helped them along the trail to Eagle Scout.
2010s – Our Present
Currently our Scoutmaster is Mr. Matt Swetz. Mr. Swetz brings that level of high energy that the scouts so much deserve. The life and enthusiasm makes a scouting program something that boys can’t leave. The tradition of great troop secretaries continues with Mrs. Lorraine Hawkins and now Mrs. Nancy Duhm keeping us on the straight and narrow.
Although on a national level scouting has declined to just 2.4 million members, way down from the 1970s, Troop 22 continues to flourish and thrive. The decision to change the Scoutmasters has served the troop well. Our troop has been blessed with a very dedicated committee and Assistant Scoutmaster corps. This spells out good things for the troop in years to come. Our fundraising efforts are strong and we are always bringing new scouts to join the adventure. Troop 22 will continue to maintain the high standards and enthusiasm for the boys!
The troop continues to maintain a roster of 50+ Scouts and is always looking for ways to keep the boys interested and active in Scouting given the ‘competing’ challenges of extended sports schedules, private high school for many of the boys and changing social norms. On many Tuesday nights you will see Scouts in their baseball uniforms, football pants or school uniform coming right from an obligation to the meeting. As our leaders say, “we want you here, we want you active, and for tonight, that’s your uniform.”
Recent adventures include ski trips, horseback riding campouts (leading to the horseback merit badge), and survival weekends. We’ve been back to Niagara, visited Baltimore, shot the Delaware rapids, and circumnavigated Martha’s Vineyard by bike. The high adventure tradition also continues, most recently with a 2016 trip to the Bahamas on the sailing ship Ciganka. Plans are already afoot for our June 2018 trip to Washington, DC.
It’s been a great 75 years being a part of the fabric of Bloomfield, Nutley and St. Thomas. Thank you all for your piece in our journey. Here’s to 75 more years for Troop 22!