April 17, 2024
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Teaneck Scouts Summer Review – Highlights

Boy Scout Troop 226, chartered to the Jewish Center of Teaneck, had an exciting summer. To start with, six Scouts from Troop 226 attended Forestburg Scout Reservation (near Monticello, N.Y.), together with Troop 55 of Highland Park, N.J. Special arrangements were made to provide observant Scouts and Scouters with kosher food, and a large “synagogue tent” was erected so that davening could be held each morning and evening. The Scouts who attended earned a considerable number of merit badges, as well as enjoying swimming, boating, and other activities offered by the camp.

Forestburg was followed by a two-week trip to Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, N.M. Philmont is the Boy Scouts of America’s premier high adventure camp and the largest youth camp in the world, serving over one million participants since 1938. It extends over 214 square miles of wilderness, with trails that climb from a low elevation of 6,500 feet up to 12,441 feet. Our trek involved hiking for about 60 miles over a period of 10 days. During this period, we carried all our gear in backpacks while hiking from camp to camp. We participated in backcountry programs along the way, including shotgun shooting and rock climbing. The trek included a conservation project where the Scouts helped build a new trail.

To make the trip even more special, the Scouts decided to go out to Philmont by train. The journey, via Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited and Southwest Chief, took two days and required a change of trains in Chicago. This trip afforded everyone the opportunity to see the country–we could observe how the industrial area in northern Indiana was followed by agricultural lands in Illinois, Iowa, and Kansas and then prairie sagebrush in Colorado and New Mexico.

Our group of 21 Scouts and Scouters included participants from Teaneck, Bergenfield, West Orange, and South Orange, N.J.; Manhattan, Riverdale, New Rochelle, White Plains, and West Hempstead, N.Y.; Boston, Mass. and Atlanta, Ga. Because the maximum size of each trek is 12 participants, we divided into two groups, with each group following a different itinerary. However, we arranged for both groups to be together for each Shabbat so that we could daven and eat as a group.

We brought along a Sefer Torah (loaned by a Scout troop from Boston) and arranged to read the Torah each Shabbat we spent at Philmont (including one at a backcountry camp). For the second Shabbat at Base Camp, we were joined by the Jewish Chaplain, Todd Zinn, who had assisted in providing us with kosher food for the trek. Chaplain Todd also arranged for the Sefer Torah to be delivered to Baldy Camp, where we spent the first Shabbat, and the staff of the camp provided us with a room in a newly constructed building where we could daven and lain.

The highlight of our Philmont trek was a climb of Baldy Mountain (elevation 12,441 feet), the highest mountain in Philmont. Our itinerary contemplated that we would climb this mountain on our “layover day,” which was Shabbat. But since we couldn’t do the climb on Shabbat, we postponed it to the following day, when we also had to hike a considerable distance to our next camp. The climb of Baldy took a little longer than we had anticipated, and we were unable to cover the distance to the next camp before dark. But the staff assisted us by arranging for us to stay at a much closer camp instead. We had to make up the missed mileage the next day, though, resulting in a long 12-mile hike with all of our gear. Fortunately, most of the way was downhill, and we arrived at our camp well before dark.

Philmont was followed by a canoe trip in the Adirondacks, where we attended Floodwood Mountain Scout Reservation near Saranac Lake, N.Y. Since we had just returned from a rather strenuous trek to Philmont, we decided to “take it easy” and chose a relatively short, three-night canoe trip that did not require any portages. We found beautiful campsites at Saginaw Bay on Upper Saranac Lake, Follensby Clear Pond, and Floodwood Pond, and all of the Scouts had a great time. We’re now looking forward to another wonderful year of Scouting!

Troop 226 meets each Monday evening during the school year from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. at the Weiss Auditorium of the Jewish Center of Teaneck. We have a full schedule of hikes, overnight camping trips, and other activities. All boys ages 11-17 are welcome to join. For more information, please contact Daniel Chazin, Scoutmaster, 201-836-7019, [email protected].

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