By Molly McCarthy, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – Shrewsbury's Troop 158's boy-led troop philosophy means that the scouts take the reins in the organization and day-to-day function of the troop. Senior Patrol Leader Thomas Bodden has been in his current position within the troop since June. Prior to that, he served as an assistant senior patrol leader for a year.
“It basically entails that the senior patrol leader and the two assistants, a group of three, run the troop,” Bodden explained. “A lot of people get a false interpretation of the troop thinking the adults do everything.”
“We choose where we are going, when we are going, and plan how much the trip is going to cost based on things like mileage,” he added. “We calculate it and we plan everything. If we want to go somewhere we are the ones contacting people. The adults are there for guidance.”
Scouting runs in Bodden's family. His grandfather was a Boy Scout and his father was an Eagle Scout. He enjoys the weekly camping trips and the troop's community involvement. The troop's recent community projects have included painting the snack shack at Coolidge School, rebuilding the tennis wall at Dean Park, constructing a kiosk at Dean Park, building a memorial garden and installing a basketball hoop at Trinity Episcopal Church, and building a playground at Shrewsbury Youth and Family Service. Another recent project involved making a collection box for American flags at the Shrewsbury Senior Center. Members of the community can bring flags to the box to be disposed of properly and with respect by the troop.
The camping trips are to various places, including Fort Adams in Rhode Island, Mystic Seaport, and overnights at Central Rock Gym in Worcester. This year the troop is going on a trip to New York City to visit the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, Times Square, and Central Park. The scouts will be camping in New Jersey during the trip.
The troop camps at Treasure Valley Scout Reservation in Rutland each summer. In 2014 the older scouts are off to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. During the trips, the scouts work on service projects and continue to hone their leadership skills.
“Even during our camping trips we cook our own meals. The scouts themselves go out and do the food shopping for the trips. It's been that way since 1913,” said Bodden.
The trips and the gear needed is largely funded by the troop's yearly popcorn fundraiser in the fall. Luckily for the troop, last year's top Boy Scout popcorn-seller is part of troop 158.
That Scout, J.J. Hannaford of Shrewsbury, is back at it with the added goal of being able to pay his way to Philmont Scout Ranch with the proceeds from the sales. Hannaford is also able to raise money toward a college scholarship through the popcorn sales.
“It definitely has taught me to take more control of stuff. To not just be an outsider and just actually take control,” Hannaford said about scouting.
The boys also talked of the friendships they have made through scouting.
“I have always said there is no better conversation than at two in the morning when it's raining and you'se wet. It brings you closer,” Bodden said.
The troop invites anyone interested in learning about scouting to their meetings on Thursdays at 7 p.m. at St. Mary's Church, 20 Summer St., Shrewsbury. To order popcorn or make military donations, email [email protected]. To learn more about the troop and their community involvement, visit http://shrewsbury158.mytroop.us.