The annual trek-o-ree of the Algonquin District of the Westchester-Putnam Council of the Boy Scouts of America is dedicated to the memory of Scoutmaster Michael A. Boccardi of Troop Forty, Mount Vernon. For Algonquin, it's a carry-over from the late Four Rivers District, dissolved in 2010 by the Council with the troops, including T40, folded into neighboring districts.
Mike was a stockbroker with Fred Alger Management, and he worked on the 92d floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center. He probably was killed immediately when the 1st plane hit the tower on 9/11.
For a good number of years Mike had organized the Four Rivers trek-o-ree, and done it with the passion that he did everything that involved Scouting. See http://sdbnews.blogspot.com/2009/09/remembering-most-of-us-kept-somber.html Memorializing him in this fashion is appropriate.
This year's trek took place at Durland Scout Reservation in Putnam Valley on Oct. 20, with most of the troops that took part camping out on Friday and Saturday nites, the 19th-20th. Nine troops from Mt. Vernon, Bronxville, Yonkers, Pelham, Rye, and Scarsdale took part; perhaps others that I didn't catch sight of.
|Some of the troops at morning assembly|
As usual, T40 was late getting away from St. Ursula's Church in Mt. Vernon (a "tradition" dating back at least to the Boccardi era, which is as far back as my regular involvement with the troop goes). We left at 7:40 p.m. on a wet Friday and arrived at our campsite, no. 35, around 9:00 p.m. We had 11 boys, 2 of them on their very 1st camping trip, and 4 adult Scouters, including yours truly. We've had lots of practice pitching camp in the dark, and we got that done without any unusual experiences. Everything was soggy, but at least it wasn't raining. We got a nice little fire going once camp was set up. Our campsite wasn't a good one, with very little level ground for pitching tents, and 1 of the 2 picnic tables was damaged.
On Saturday we got up at 7:00. It was still dreary, so the light was late coming, and I slept (or at least tried to) later than usual; I wound up saying a hasty Mass on the picnic table even as the Scouts were setting up the stoves for breakfast, going "shhhh, shhhh" on the Lord's behalf.
Fortunately, I'd brought along 2 stoves and 2 griddles to supplement what the troop had brought (2 stoves, 2 large frying pans). So we were able to do our pancakes and sausages pretty quickly. But the stuff then had to be cleaned, and we had to make our sandwiches for lunch.
We aimed to get to the assembly at the Sperling Center at 9:00 a.m. I gather that not many troops made it on time; we certainly didn't. I think the rites must have started at 9:30, a few moments before we did get there. The 9 troops were divided into 15 patrols of 5-8 Scouts each for the trek, and 1 or 2 adults went with just about all of the patrols.
Asst. Scoutmasters Louie Antunez and Jariel Felton opted to go shopping for more vittles for supper, leaving me and Asst. Scoutmaster Mike Berman to accompany our 2 patrols. I asked Mike which one he wanted to go with, and he chosed Tyler Gaines's patrol of 5 Scouts. I went with David Ford's 6-Scout patrol. They went one way to start on the Red Trail, and we went the other way--actually starting with the 2 skills stations right at the Sperling Center.
|On our way to the Sperling Center, we passed Sperling Pond, where autumn's foliage was fabulous|
By starting time, the sun was out gloriously, and we had comfortably warm day, ideal for taking pictures. The foliage was at its colorful peak. I took 72 photos, some of which I'll get up here.
The idea of a trek-o-ree is to hike, and along the trail to demonstrate the troop's Scouting skills at various stations set up along the trail. Each patrol is rated 1-10 points at each station on such merits as the skill itself and Scout spirit. I think the time taken to complete the hike is also factored when the patrols are ranked and awards presented at day's end.
|David's patrol at Kim's game|
Last year the trek followed the same course, and several patrols, including the one I was with, had great difficulty finding trail blazes. We went seriously astray and didn't even complete the hike because it got too late and everyone was totally bushed. This year, I'm happy to say, the trail was freshly blazed, and very well blazed, and I don't think anyone going in either direction had any trouble following it.
|Raising our flag|
At the morning assembly, Mass was announced for 5:00 p.m. at the campfire ring. Our troop showed up, and 2 other Scouters. That was it! Disappointment here. Apparently all the other troops were busy with supper. We managed to get in supper after Mass, even with the 10-minute walk back to our site.
Lesson for next occasion (e.g. the spring camp-o-ree): keep Mass in our own campsite or a neighboring one. Let whoever comes, come. Alternative: have Mass after the evening campfire, when everyone's already eaten and is at a central site (with the downsides of celebrating in the dark, and yours truly possibly being completely wiped out by the day's events).
|Our boys play Robin Hood|
|Stew Walsh questions the patrol about first aid|
|Below the first aid station was a brook that was a challenge to cross without getting wet or losing one's footing. The patrol ahead of us scouted out possible crossings took 5 minutes to cross.|
|The knots station became a choke point (a knotty situation?), with 4 patrols there at one point--1 acting and 3 waiting their turns. David's patrol has a go here.|
|From knots, down to the road and everyone's favorite part of the hike--lunch!|
|Back into the woods and up a long, steep hill--and we met Tyler's patrol with Mr. Berman coming the other way. Rest stop for both patrols.|
Our original supper plan was to do tin-foil chicken (with potatoes and carrots). But we decided that would take too long, so we used our 4 stoves again. Louie and Jariel had added burgers to the menu. And we totally forgot to bring out the salad from the cooler. Even so, we were a few minutes late for the campfire, which began just before 7:30 p.m. (a moment before I got there at 7:30; and thus the opening prayer came about 2 skits into the ritual).
Most of the patrols offered one skit or song, some of them quite entertaining. Mike Boccardi was remembered twice, in my prayer and in Bill Hopkins's Scoutmaster minute. Troop 5 Yonkers retired a huge American flag, which was solemnly burned, each patrol taking a section of it and casting it upon the flames. Then we had Taps and Scout Vespers.
|Identifying different trees by their leaves is a head-scratching business|
|After trying steel on magnesium (extra point if successful), David finally had to resort to a match to get the fire going|
|David shows the Scouters and his own patrol how to lash a small pole to a larger one|
A very successful trek-o-ree.
And may our friend Mike Boccardi enjoy eternal peace with our Lord!