Troop 14, A Brief History

The Troop was chartered in the late 30s and our sponsor has always been the Messiah United Church of Christ. Since 1972, meetings have been held at the present location. In my first year as a Boy Scout, we met in the old church, located about a quarter of a mile north on the opposite side of Oneida Street. I remember a few things about the old meeting locale: we met in the basement, there struggling over the bowline for the first time (alas not the last) and my brother’s 1971 Vega getting stuck on the short but steep driveway one wintry Monday.

My name is John Koslosky. As near as I can remember, I joined Troop 14 in either late 1970 or early 1971. We came from a part of New Hartford where boys usually joined Troop 4, which met at Clinton Rd Elementary School (now Myles, named after Robert Myles, my elementary school principal). My brother, William, was the first Eagle Scout in Troop 4 but owing to a disagreement with its Scoutmaster, he sought another Troop to serve as Assistant Scoutmaster when he turned 18. He joined Tr 14 based on the recomendation of someone on his paper route who had sons in the Troop.

I have been a member of the Troop straight through to the present and have served as Scoutmaster since December 1985. I was Assistant Scoutmaster from Feb 1978 when I turned 18.

Upon joining, I met a man who would come to have a tremendous influence on me, Malcolm “Smokey” Elmer, my first Scoutmaster. Smokey WAS Troop 14 in my eyes. He brought it back from oblivion in the late 50s (our Charter lapsed for one year when a former Scoutmaster “absconded” (Smokey’s description) with the Troop’s treasury leaving the Mohawk Valley for New Jersey.

Smokey remained an integral part of the Troop until his death in 2004 at the age of 81. He had two sons, Terry and Ron, both of whom were in the Troop.

I will write more about “The Big ML” in other posts.

Other Scoutmasters during my tenure include Bud Lloyd (he had two sons who were scouts, Bill and Dan), Smokey’s son Ron, an Eagle Scout, my brother William and Ken Showalter, also a Tr 14 Eagle Scout.

The Troop’s primary summer camping location has been Cedarlands, located in Long Lake, a 5000 acre reservation owned by the Council since the early 60s. There, our primary camping location, until the Council closed the site to week-long camping in the 80s, was Windy Beach. Although closed to all-week summer camping, we have subsequently made many excursions to Windy Beach. We were last there during one of our winter 2012 campouts when we walked across the lake from the old loj site (we were staying in the Alder Creek cabin located near the old loj; the loj burned in either the late 70s/early 80s).

Besides Cedarlands, we have been to summer camp at Camp Russell (first in 1972 then again in the late 90s for a few years), Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico in 1981, 1983, 1990, 1992, 1994 and 1999, Blue Ridge Scout Reservation in western Virginia in 2009, Pax Naval Air Station in Maryland in 2008, a Los Angeles Council scout camp near Yosemite National Park in 2006, Yellowstone National Park in 2010 and Sea Base, run by the National BSA, in August 2012.

Presently, we are planning trips to the Maine National Canoe Base next year and Germany and perhaps Austria and the Czech Republic in 2014.

A non-camping highlite came in 2010 when two of our scouts, Brian Fee and Dale Raar, were awarded Scouting’s highest lifesaving medal, the Honor Medal with Crossed Palms, before approx 300 people in the NH High School auditorium. This is Scouting’s rarest award as fewer than 300 have been authorized since the medal’s creation in 1924. Parts of the ceremony are on YouTube. Brian and Dale were featured in a full-page “Scouts in Action” segment in a recent edition of Boys’ Life magazine, the official magazine of the BSA.

The Troop has been blessed with tremendous adult leaders: all our Scoutmasters, Tim Halligan, Mario Scalzo, Jr., Eric Torgersen, Glen Amrhein, Bob Byrnes, Dave Astafan, John Ivory, Sam Russo, Mike Fitzsimmons, Jim Derrane, Cliff Rose, Bob Decker, Brian Pratt, Rob Bedell and Dave Dwyer. Many other parents have made significant contributions over the years as well.

Smokey always mentioned Hump Roberts, a man who gave a lot of time and effort to the Troop even though he didn’t have a son (he had daughters); our Campership is named after Mr. Roberts.

Of course, we’ve had many great young men in Troop 14 over the years. We’ve got a few good ones now too!

We started this page as a way for current and former members of the Troop to share their Scouting memories. I hope this will make for interesting reading. Please post/comment!!

As Smokey once said, “No one ever had a worry around a campfire.” let’s bring that same spirit to this page!