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Newtown’s Troop 70 Celebrates 90 Years Of Scouting



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Newtown’s Boy Scout Troop 70 is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, and a 90th celebration took place August 12 at Cullens Youth Center, coinciding with the scout’s Court of Honor — an event held several times a year during which Scouts earn their ranks and badges.

Thaddeus Teraszkiewicz made the rank of Eagle Scout on Sunday. His Eagle Project included setting up beehives at the Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary in Newtown.

Eagle Scout Michael Early, the youngest Eagle Scout in Troop 70 history, has also won The Adam Award for Top Eagle Project in the Northeast Region. He started michaelswarriorproject.org, helping disabled veterans. Both of these Eagle Scouts are still serving the community by keeping their Eagle Projects going.

Thirty-nine Scouts ranging from 11 to 17 years old are within the Newtown ranks.

“90 years, it’s really impressive,” said Troop Chairman Michael Early. The troop engages in “high adventure,” including scuba diving trips, ziplining, rock climbing, white water rafting, backpacking, and “going on adventures.”

Troop members do a lot of canoeing and camping, and “that type of thing is what’s drawing the boys; they are really wanting that type of adventure,” according to Mr Early.

Leadership is a troop goal.

“The younger boys get involved with the older boys with their Eagle projects,” Mr Early said. “You need boys and volunteers to do the project. It really gets the boys involved.”

The involvement “changes their lives,” Mr Early said. By “bringing the kids in,” he said, the older children show younger children “something they have never done before.”

He added, “We aim to create well-rounded leaders once [Scouts] leave our program.”

Other goals include accommodating girls’ interests in the troop’s activities.

“We are trying to set it up that we can handle the types of adventure that boys and girls want to take on. There are a lot of girls and boys interested,” Mr Early said. “We are already moving forward to adapt to accept the girls into Scouting. A lot of girls are asking to do what the boys are doing, and we are trying to set ourselves up for the future and influx of girls.”

While “trying to keep the same traditions,” Mr Early said the troop is also “bringing things up to high adventure, like scuba diving. Staying with tradition and being able to adapt is what we need to do.”

The High Court and 90th celebration saw a lot of past Eagle Scouts return to participate.

“We had a lot of former Eagles came back just for the day, and a lot of them helped organize the event. It is very impressive to see Eagles travel back here from as far as Washington DC just to help be a part of this historical occasion,” said Mr Early.

The Newtown troop is active year-round, rather than just during the school year, he said.

A History

Mr Early provided the following Troop history, as documented by residents, including Town Historian Dan Cruson: Troop 70 has been in continual existence since 1928. Before the foundation of the Boy Scouts of America in 1910, Newtown had a rich history of similar youth organizations. Seeking knowledge and experience in their natural surroundings, a number of youth organizations developed to provide youth training.

By the 1910s, most of these organizations coalesced into the Boy Scouts. A little over a year after the national incorporation of the Boy Scouts of America, on March 10, 1911, Reverend Steele called a formation meeting for a troop of Boy Scouts of Newtown. This meeting was a success, and Troop 1 was born. The fledging troop survived a series of starts and stops over the next 15-plus years as leaders changed, and there was some pushback from a misinformed local community that viewed the BSA as being only a religious organization or that its primary purpose was preparing boys for a coming apocalypse.

After multiple interruptions, its next and last resurrection occurred in 1928. The man responsible for this was Reverend Paul Cullens, who had taken over the pulpit of the Congregational Church at the beginning of that year. Rev Cullens would remain the minister of that church for 36 years, and during that time, he was the undisputed leader of youth activities in Newtown, including the Boy Scouts.

The reorganization meeting was held on January 10, 1928, and Troop 1 was formally back in existence. Within a year, however, the troops of northern Fairfield County, which had been part of the Waterbury Council, were moved to the jurisdiction of the Bridgeport Council. Unfortunately, the Bridgeport Council already had a Troop 1, which had been formed earlier than the Newtown troop. As a result, the Newtown troop became Troop 70, a designation it has held up to the present.

The newly reconstituted troop quickly became very active and a guiding force in the community.

Rev Cullens had achieved the rank of Eagle Scout and had been associated with Scouting as a leader for more than 20 years before he reformed the Newtown troop. The Newtown Scouts enjoyed a range of special activities far beyond those of other neighboring towns. One of these special activities was conducted under the authority of the Pine Tree Patrol.

On July 10, 1933, a group of six older Scouts of first- and second-class rank embarked on a trip to Chicago to visit the Century of Progress Exposition. Throughout the trip, telegrams were sent back to Harold Smith of the local troop committee, who, in turn, passed them on to The Newtown Bee for publication. The Pine Tree Patrol, a special patrol within Boy Scout troops dedicated to sophisticated expeditions, such as the trip to Chicago, was still a relative rarity when Cullens organized the patrol for Troop 70.

‘The Boy Scouts Of Newtown’

Rev Cullens continued to serve the Boy Scouts as Scoutmaster until 1954, and he continued to serve as the head of the local Explorer post until his retirement from the ministry in 1964. His overall role in the Boy Scout movement in Newtown has more recently been recognized by the formation of the Cullens Youth Association. This had its origins back in 1946, when a 9.1-acre parcel of land on Church Hill Road between the railroad tracks and St Rose Church was purchased by a group of Boy Scout adult leaders who formed “The Boy Scouts of Newtown” specifically to purchase the property from the railroad.

On November 9, 1979, a major change occurred in the Newtown Scout movement when the Cullens Memorial was incorporated out of the former Scouts of Newtown Inc. Three years later, the Church Hill property was sold and Camp Wipawaug, an unsuccessful day camp located off Taunton Lake Road on a tributary of Taunton Pond, was purchased.

This included a 21-acre parcel of land with some outbuildings and a pond. By 1987, the board of directors of the Cullens Memorial felt that the name Cullens Youth Association more correctly fit the intent of the organization and the modern Cullens facility was established.

Troop 70 continues Rev Cullens's vision of being not only the oldest active Troop in Newtown, but also easily seen as the one most geared towards high adventure activities. Recent outings to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico and multiple Scuba diving trips are a few examples. Thanks to the countless leaders and parents who contribute their time and knowledge, Newtown scouts currently enjoy a best-of-class experience for both Newtown and for the Boy Scouts as a whole.

At the 90th Celebration the Scouts also honored Fairfield Fish & Game, Norman Nagy, Rankin Textiles, and Capt Mike’s Diving, as well as some leaders who have been around since the early 1950s, for helping them throughout the years.

Eagle Scout Michael Early, center, the youngest Eagle Scout in Troop 70 history, who won The Adam Award for Top Eagle Project in the Northeast Region. He Started michaelswarriorproject.org to help disabled veterans. His project is ongoing. With him are Scoutmaster Ed Breitling, right, and his father and Troop chairman Mike Early. —photos courtesy Jen Sinappi and Doug Filter
Thaddeus Teraszkiewicz made the rank of Eagle Scout on Sunday, April 12. He set up bee hives at the Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary in Newtown.
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