Catching Up with the Boys of Landis

By Louise Polli

The Arboretum’s Boy Scout Troop 501 is alive and well and thriv­ing — at a time when oth­er near­by troops have ceased operation. 

A Scout pro­vides plant concierge service”.

Scout­mas­ter Chuck Whit­man attrib­ut­es the troop’s suc­cess to a core of ded­i­cat­ed lead­ers … who as adults get along very well togeth­er” and encour­age the par­tic­i­pa­tion of par­ents and sib­lings. This fam­i­ly-ori­ent­ed troop” even includes Chuck and Lisa Whitman’s son Chris, who has returned as a young adult to serve as an Assis­tant Scout­mas­ter, men­tor­ing the boys as oth­ers did before him. An inte­gral part of Lan­dis, the troop serves the Arbore­tum at each plant sale and con­tributes in many oth­er ways, at the same time reap­ing the ben­e­fits of the out­door class­room that the Arbore­tum offers. Ear­ly this sum­mer, the troop host­ed a region­al Cam­poree in a new prim­i­tive camp­ing area for scouts at Lan­dis, and will con­tin­ue to use it through­out the year.

Scout­ing sure­ly helps boys on their jour­ney to become men, and nowhere is the trans­for­ma­tion more appar­ent than in the attain­ment of Eagle Scout rank. Only about 5% of Scouts nation­wide are award­ed this pres­ti­gious per­for­mance-based rank.

Jake Carl­son is the troop’s most recent Scout to earn this sta­tus. Jake point­ed to a younger boy, new to scout­ing, and not­ed, I was just like him, shy.” Jake admit­ted that it was chaot­ic” in the begin­ning, but over the years he has appre­ci­at­ed all this knowl­edge I’ve accu­mu­lat­ed; I want to give back.” He sees scout­ing as a very good learn­ing oppor­tu­ni­ty.” And a place to build last­ing rela­tion­ships, what Jake called life friends.” Scout­ing has giv­en him valu­able skill sets, self-con­fi­dence, and the entre­pre­neur­ial spir­it. Now Jake is poised to begin stud­ies at Adiron­dack Col­lege. His dream is to start a busi­ness in an out­door set­ting with year-round activ­i­ties and phys­i­cal chal­lenges. That would be a big step for the once shy boy from Mari­av­ille whose moth­er Deb­bie asked him, Do you want to go to some­thing called Scouts’?”

Jake’s Eagle Scout project demon­strates anoth­er kind of rela­tion­ship scout­ing can fos­ter for young men, a bond with their com­mu­ni­ty. The Ani­mal Shel­ter of Schoharie Val­ley had land, but no secure yard to exer­cise the ani­mals in its care. Enter an eager Jake Carl­son, who likes dogs and who thought it was a good match, although It was a big chal­lenge.” He had to solic­it and gath­er dona­tions of mate­ri­als, assem­ble a cadre of peo­ple to per­form the work, and return to make mod­i­fi­ca­tions to the design of the fence. The three actu­al work days spent at the shel­ter were just a small frac­tion of the time spent to plan and exe­cute this project; over 208 vol­un­teer hours were record­ed on Jake’s Eagle Scout application.

In the end, the Chuck P. Stephens Memo­r­i­al Play Yard was com­plete, giv­ing home­less ani­mals a bet­ter chance to exer­cise and social­ize before find­ing new homes. The project also gave a young man a tremen­dous life les­son in what scout­ing is about. It is that very same life les­son first taught by the late Scout­mas­ter Chuck Stephens, whose mem­o­ry Jake con­tin­ues to hon­or both at the shel­ter and at his Eagle Scout cer­e­mo­ny, nam­ing Mr. Stephens as his mentor. 

The Lan­dis fam­i­ly shares the pride Jake’s fam­i­ly feels in what he has accom­plished, and in wher­ev­er he is head­ed, because we know, as Jake stat­ed so sim­ply, Once an Eagle Scout, always an Eagle Scout.” 

Summer 2017

Volume 35 , Number 3

Share this

The Latest from Landis

Mar 14, 2023

Picturing Landis through the year

Scenic Landis Arboretum just begs to be captured by photographers, professionals and amateurs alike. Enjoy... read more

Mar 14, 2023

2022 Annual Report

View or Download read more

Mar 14, 2023 | Nolan Marciniec

Re-thinking Garden Pests

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything... read more

Mar 14, 2023 | Fred Lape, founder of the George Landis Arboretum

Barn Swallows

In this poem, Arboretum founder Fred Lape calls our attention to the “commonplace” miracle of... read more

Mar 14, 2023 | Anita Sanchez

Things Are Looking Up

Tree canopy -- Anita Sanchez Long ago I worked at a nature center, leading walks... read more

Mar 14, 2023 | Laurie Freeman

S-L-O-W Birding: A Primer for Beginners

Are you considering birding? Perhaps you’ve heard that birding is a great way to enjoy... read more

News Archive