A scout meeting is about to begin. From the Meeting House deck, Scoutmaster Chuck Whitman looks over the expanse of the Schoharie Valley and thinks: what a fitting venue for outdoor activities — the fields and forests of the Landis Arboretum. Could there be a more perfect place to have boys learn, play, explore and grow?
Boy Scout Troop 501 has been connected with Landis since 2004. Since that time, 79 scouts have enjoyed the unique opportunity for nature appreciation and education that Landis offers. Ten have achieved the rank of Eagle Scout, scouting’s highest achievement. Through the efforts of scoutmasters Chuck Stephens and Chuck Whitman, the troop has grown to sixteen scouts and 25 committed adults. Scoutmaster Whitman prides himself on the “open and welcoming” spirit of Troop 501. This spirit will shine when they host a camporee this October, at which scout troops from the area will participate in inter-troop activities.
Community service is an important aspect of scouting, and the scouts are a fixture at Landis’ spring and fall plant sales, interacting with our volunteers and the public. They provide security during the plant sales by camping out overnight on the site. They are also of great assistance during the sale in many ways, including helping customers take purchases to the parking area.
In return, Landis helps the scouts by providing meeting, camping, and storage areas. Next to the Arboretum’s barn is a shed, built and stained by the scouts alongside Arboretum volunteers, that provides a dry and safe place for the scouts’ camping equipment. The troop also has a campsite area at Landis, which currently includes an outhouse and firepit. Site improvements are planned including a storage shed, an Adirondack-style lean-to, and a second outhouse.
Many of the scout leaders commented that most troops meet in schools or fire halls and simply do not have the outdoors “to call home”. The leaders and the scouts in Troop 501 feel fortunate that they and Landis have such a strong connection. The feeling is mutual: the Arboretum values this relationship too and will continue to provide a sociable, sylvan, and spiritual place for young men and women to develop important life and leadership skills.