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P’ville Boy Scout Troop Commemorates 70 Years Serving Community

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Former members of Boy Scout Troop 12 in Pleasantville accept a proclamation from County Legislator Margaret Cunzio during last Saturday’s 70th anniversary celebration of the troop.

Art Masker and Terry Smith weren’t going to miss last weekend’s milestone anniversary celebration for Boy Scout Troop 12 in Pleasantville if they could help it.

Masker, who traveled from his current home in Tennessee for the weekend, joined the troop in 1958, and Smith, whose father helped establish it in 1954, followed two years after Masker.

Last Saturday, they were on hand at the Pleasantville Presbyterian Church, the two most senior members in attendance for the troop’s 70th anniversary ceremony.

“Scouting has been important to me all my life even though I can’t say, like Art can, but he’s been a registered scout for X number of years,” said Smith, who came from his home in Columbus, Ohio for the event. “I have not been, but just the notion of what scouting has done for us, the mindset that scouting gives us, we can solve the problem, we can deal with the solution, be friends to people.”

Current members of Troop 12 welcomed many of the troop’s alumni along with an assortment of dignitaries for the ceremony, fittingly at the social hall of the Presbyterian Church, where they have convened for the weekly scout meetings for all seven decades. Older scouts brought memorabilia – badges, mementos and newspaper clippings – some from many years ago.

Rob LaMagna, the troop’s current scout master, said Pleasantville’s close-knit community and the dedication of the families have made Troop 12 as active and successful as it has despite growing competition for youngsters’ time and attention as they grow older.

The longer a youngster stays with Boy Scouts, typically the more likely they will be able to succeed in scouting, LaMagna said. His own son was able to play three sports, keep up academically, practice his faith and managed to make Eagle Scout.

Former scouts throughout the generations and others from the community helped celebrate Pleasantville’s Troop 12’s 70th anniversary last Saturday.

“I try to talk to the parents about scouting when they’re transitioning from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts, is that scouting exposes the scouts to the Merit Badge Program, to so many potential trades and careers,” LaMagna explained. “So it’s not just chopping wood, making fires, setting up tents, which are all awesome things, but there’s a lot of things about citizenship and health and safety, government and just life skills and benefits.”

Masker, an Eagle Scout and a 65-year member, is a prime example of how scouting shaped can shape a boy’s life. As a 17-year-old junior assistant scout, he helped youngsters at the Pleasantville Cottage School organize a troop there. He didn’t know it at the time, but his experience at the Cottage School influenced his career choice.

After college in Tennessee, Masker worked at a Methodist children’s home and an adoption and foster child agency.

“I was there for 40 years and retired, the last 14 as CEO,” Masker said. “But it helped create a career path.”

While there are Boy Scout troops in Westchester and Putnam counties that have been active longer than Pleasantville’s Troop 12, few have had the level of commitment. There are 46 active members, according to Natalie Tucker, committee chair for the troop. In its history, 133 scouts have reached the pinnacle of Eagle Scout.

“To see some of the guys that are here, one 60 years in scouting, Pleasantville’s Troop 12 has a lot of Eagle Scouts that have come back, and it’s a great program to develop young men, to give them citizenship and service to others, and it’s very rewarding,” said Boy Scouts District Chair Richard Buzzard.

County Legislator Margaret Cunzio was one of several area elected officials who presented proclamations to the scouts. The commitment of the scouts and adult leaders to teach and helps others has continued through the generations.

“The players may be different but the mission statement and the idea’s the same – to teach others skills to have them do good things and hopefully paying it forward,” Cunzio said.

The sense of history and a link to the troop’s early days wasn’t lost on current scouts Finn McGinley, 15, and Rhys Tucker, 14, who helped to lead the ceremony.

Tucker, who serves as Troop 12’s historian, said there have been many layers to the troop throughout its 70-year existence.

“It’s just amazing to see history happen right in front of you,” he said. “It’s surprising that not many other troops actually celebrate their anniversaries like this one is celebrated. I’m hoping this can be a tradition.”

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