Tag Archives: Boy Scout Troop 36

Happy 70th, Troop 36!

It’s not easy for an organization to last 70 years.

It’s even tougher when your membership turns over every few years.

But Westport’s Scout Troop 36 has done just that.

70th anniversary patch, designed by troop member Oliver Saitz.

Organized in 1949 by Saugatuck Congregational Church, the troop has helped thousands of boys learn life skills, become leaders, and form lasting friendships.

It’s weathered the ups and downs of Scouting nationally. Boy Scouts of America is now called “Scouts BSA.” In addition to offering programs for girls, Scouts now accept gay and transgender members.

Numbers have waxed and waned over the years. In 2015, there were only 9 Scouts. Today, 28 boys are members of Troop 36.

They meet every Monday night in Hoskins Hall, and hold one outing a month. Last year they went cold-weather camping in the Berkshires, spent a weekend exploring Philadelphia, backpacked up Mount Greylock, took their annual trip to Block Island and went whitewater rafting, among other adventures.

Service work includes support of the Westport Maker Faire, participating in a coastal cleanup at Sherwood Island State Park, assisting with worship and grounds cleanup at Saugatuck Church, and cleaning drainage areas at Camp Sequassen.

Every 2 years for many years, they attended the Scottish Jamboree in Edinburgh.

This July, 5 Scouts will participate in the 24th World Scout Jamboree in West Virginia. They’ll join 45,000 others from over 165 countries.

In 2006, newly installed Eagle Scouts gathered with Scoutmaster Jack Berry.

No Eagle Scout records exist prior to 1961. But from that year through 2017, 123 boys earned the prestigious Eagle Scout rank.

The troop’s history includes longtime scoutmaster Jack Berry. Last June — 4 years after his death — he was honored with a plaque, at the Saugatuck Church.

Jack was one of many adult leaders and young Scouts who helped Troop 36 for 70 years. Congratulations to all — and good luck for the next 70!

Remembering Jack Berry

Jack Berry — beloved and longtime leader of Westport’s Boy Scout troop 36 — died early today. He stepped down — reluctantly, and with a fantastic sendoff — last spring, due to the effects of pancreatic cancer.

Jack Berry

Jack Berry

At last year’s retirement dinner, Zach Effman was awed by his scoutmaster’s devotion.

His incredible ability to see and bring out the best in others and his joy in doing so has been an inspiration to me, while I have had the privilege of seeing him doing what he does best. Without any hesitation, I can say that Mr. Berry is the best person I have ever known. I know that his presence in the troop will be missed, but I also know that his effect on my life will never fade.

Marshall Knutson praised:

With over 50 years of scouting experience under his belt, Mr. Berry amounts to no less than a scouting God. His unwavering devotion to scouting and his inspirational charisma make him perfect at what he does. Under his guidance, Troop 36 recruits more new scouts and pumps out more Eagle Scouts than any other troop in Connecticut, solidifying Mr. Berry’s reputation as one of the greatest scoutmasters ever. His skill lies in his ability to observe a scout’s strengths and weaknesses, and provide them with the leadership opportunities they would most likely succeed at.

A small group of the many Boy Scouts who honored Jack Berry last year.

A small group of the many Boy Scouts who honored Jack Berry last year.

Edward Hickson –another  Eagle, now a junior at Ithaca College — said:

Scouting turned out to be one of the highlights of high school for me, and I can say with complete conviction that it would not be the same if Mr. Berry had not been my scoutmaster….Mr. Berry was there every step of the way. His motivation and commitment to helping me advance in scouting and become a better person means he is an inspiration to me and to all the other scouts who have had the privilege of participating in his Troop 36.

Jack Berry was a Scout to the end. Today, coincidentally, is the 104th anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America.

“The Boy Scouts Accepted Me With Open Arms”

I’m not a big fan of last week’s decision by the Boy Scouts of America to allow openly gay Scouts — but continue the ban on all gay adults, in any capacity.

Here’s the message that sends to all teenagers, of any sexual orientation: It’s okay to be a gay kid. Gay adults, though, are horrible human beings.

Of course, I was never a Boy Scout.

Jeff Durkin was. A gay Boy Scout.

In fact, Jeff was a gay Eagle Scout.

Jeff Durkin (right) with Troop 36 scoutmaster Jack Berry.

Jeff Durkin (right) with Troop 36 scoutmaster Jack Berry.

The Westporter — who just graduated from the University of Massachusetts as a linguistics major, and hopes to teach English in Japan — has a special perspective on the BSA.

A few days before the decision, Jeff wrote to the Connecticut Yankee Council — the governing body for over 17,000 Scouts and nearly 4,600 adult volunteers in Fairfield and New Haven Counties.

Jeff said:

In 2009 with Troop 36, I earned the rank of Eagle Scout. Scouts taught me to be proud of myself, and to lead other people. I feel that the only way to uphold that message is to be all-inclusive….

Regardless of the decision you make, gays will remain in Scouts. But instead of being told they are fully functioning human beings, they will be told there is a part of them that is shameful and that they shouldn’t tell anyone about it.

I went through this experience enough as a child, and Scouts was the one place I felt I belonged. My Scout troop was the first group of people I came out as gay to. They accepted me with open arms. I knew then what it meant to be part of a community. I thank you for that, and I hope that you make that experience easier for kids everywhere.

An hour later, Yankee Council president Michael Abrahamson wrote back. He said:

I appreciate your sharing your thoughts, and I am glad that you found success in Scouting. Your words show me that you do understand the meaning of being an Eagle Scout.

I know that you were a part of one of the finest troops in our council, and I am not at all surprised that Mr. Jack Berry and the rest of Troop 36 supported you.

I want you to know that we at the Connecticut Yankee Council have taken the position of formally welcoming both youth and adults regardless of their sexual orientation. We hope that the National organization will soon follow our lead and adopt a similar position.

I know that the lessons of scouting will serve you well, and again I thank you for your insight.

The national Boy Scouts of America might not fully understand or appreciate their own values — things like kindness, character, living your life with honesty.

But the Connecticut Yankee Council sure does.

Yankee Council