Everything was About the Kids

By Louise Polli

It’s been the per­fect day. You’ve spent the past hour inspect­ing each table at the Plant Sale before mak­ing one more pass to be sure you haven’t missed any­thing. Your cart is over­flow­ing with peren­ni­als, Lan­dis-grown veg­eta­bles, and a stack of books. You ven­ture down the hill with the help of a young man from Troop 501, sum­moned by Scout­mas­ter Chuck Stephens.

It’s a famil­iar scene for many, repeat­ed each year, spring and fall. Though the Boy Scouts will be back this May, the Arbore­tum is mourn­ing the loss of our dear friend, Chuck Stephens, who passed away sud­den­ly in January.

Chuck brought qui­et and con­stant lead­er­ship to the Scouts. He loved every­thing out­doors – hik­ing, canoe­ing, camp­ing, and cav­ing. The troop came to Lan­dis in 2004, with six boys and a few adults who knew the Arbore­tum was a nat­ur­al out­door class­room in which to learn. And what adven­tures they had!

Troop 501 is now led by Chuck Whit­man. He and his wife Lisa, an Assis­tant Scout­mas­ter, recent­ly shared some of their fond­est mem­o­ries of their friend Chuck Stephens. Every­thing was about the kids.” Whit­man remem­bered the time Stephens gave one of his sons a car­bide lamp, indis­pens­able to the seri­ous caver. That was the coolest thing… and as our sec­ond son got old­er, anoth­er one showed up.” Lisa and Chuck Whit­man both recalled that Stephens would do any­thing for the boys.” He could be a man of few words – if few were called for – and stub­born as they come, again when need­ed. Stead­fast and loy­al to Scout­ing, and to Lan­dis, Chuck Stephens would take the first shift of camp­ing out at the Arboretum’s plant sales. A soli­tary fig­ure in a sleep­ing bag, per­haps in a tent or under a blue plas­tic tarp, he was a Scout through and through.

Chuck and Lisa Whit­man are ably car­ry­ing on this impor­tant work with the troop that now num­bers 18 boys, impres­sive growth from the orig­i­nal core of only 6. This is quite an accom­plish­ment as they have no feed­er group” of Cub Scouts to swell their ranks. Adult par­tic­i­pa­tion and men­tor­ing is a main­stay of the orga­ni­za­tion, with adult to boy ratio in Troop 501 typ­i­cal­ly one to one or bet­ter. Scout­ing gives boys the oppor­tu­ni­ty to learn new skills and to dream big. Even their pop­corn sales are a les­son in mon­ey man­age­ment, with much of the troop’s earn­ings pro­vid­ing direct sup­port for their equip­ment and activ­i­ties. Any­thing you want to do – we’ll teach you,” Chuck and Lisa Whit­man pro­claimed. We know Chuck Stephens would agree.

Farewell, Mr. Stephens, and thank you.

Arbore­tum-spon­sored Boy Scout Troop 501 meets Tues­day evenings at 6:30 PM at either the Lan­dis Arbore­tum or the Duanes­burg Ele­men­tary School. Vis­it their web­site at troop501es​per​ance​.scout​lander​.com, or con­tact Scout­mas­ter Chuck Whit­man at whitmancal@​aol.​com or (518) 8645972 for more information.

Spring 2016

Volume 34 , Number 2

Share this

The Latest from Landis

Aug 06, 2022

Landis Forest 5K - August 6, 2022

A record turnout! Click here to view all the great photos from this event, and... read more

Jun 10, 2022 | Anne Donnelly

Don't Overlook Your Reciprocal Admissions Privilege

A sometimes overlooked benefit of your Landis Arboretum membership is the American Horticultural Society Reciprocal... read more

May 29, 2022

Scenes From the Spring Plant Sale

Thanks to our many wonderful volunteers, plant consignors, vendors, and customers, the Landis Signature Spring... read more

May 28, 2022 | Fred Breglia, Executive Director

From the Director’s Desk: Q&A, Part III

In this last Q&A session, I am focusing on leaf color change during the... read more

May 28, 2022 | Erin McKenna Breglia, Landis Gardener

From the Garden: Milkweeds for Monarchs!

Many people enjoy seeing butterflies in our Landis gardens. especially the monarch butterfly, Danaus... read more

May 28, 2022 | Anita Sanchez

Life and Death on the Lawn

It’s a beautiful summer day. You’ve finished your stack of books from the Landis... read more

News Archive