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Early Years of the Troop

Troop 301 was officially formed in December 1965 and received its first charter Scout Sunday at the St. James Lutheran Church in 1966; Herbert Pfeifer served as our first Scoutmaster and John Ziegler as the first Committee Chairman. In the years since the troop was founded, the size of the troop has averaged 50 boys, and some of today’s scouts are “2nd generation” members of Troop 301.

Troop 301 has produced one professional Scout Executive and a National Order of the Arrow chief (Jeff Herrmann), as well as one local Order of the Arrow Lodge Chief (Frederick Sandhop). (The Order of the Arrow is the national honorary camping fraternity.) More than 116 young men from Troop 301 have attained the rank of Eagle, Scouting’s highest achievement level.

Troop 301’s first Eagle was awarded in 1971 to John Ziegler (son of the first Committee Chairman).

Troop 301 has had 30 scouts reach the level of Eagle Scout in just the five years between 2005 and 2010.

When the troop was first formed it appeared often in the church bulletin.

Below is an excerpt from the St. James Lutheran Church Bulletin dated February 6th 1966:

BOY SCOUTS – This coming week is nationally observed as Boy Scout Week. In December a troop was organized in our church. Our Troop 301 will officially receive its charter at a special meeting on Friday evening beginning at 7:30 p.m. You are invited to attend. There is presently room for additional boys from age 11 through 13.

The first Charter for the Troop was presented again at the church on Scout Sunday. Below is an excerpt from the St. James Lutheran Church Bulletin dated February 13th 1966:

SCOUT SUNDAY – We acknowledge the presence of scouts at our service today as they observe Scout Sunday. This past Friday evening Pastor Abel received for our church the Charter for Troop 301. At their Investiture Program our Troop now has a membership of 15 boys and growing each week. We recommend our Troop to any boy from the age of 10 ½ up to 13. The Troop meets every Friday evening at 7:30. Mr. Herbert Pheifer is their Scoutmaster with Robert Weidman as his Assistant. Mr. John Ziegler is the Chairman of the Troop Committee of nine men.

Below are early pictures and clippings of and about the troop.

The ones below are from the middle and late 1960s, right when the troop was founded and under the Scoutmastership of Art Speidel (Officially the second Scoutmaster).

It appears that one of the first outings (beyond some hiking) the NEW Troop 301 took was to what is now the park off Landing Ave. by the bridge over the river. The pictures were labeled FISH HATCHERY and dated January 1967. As the date on the picture reflects the date they were processes or printed. the trip may have been in December 1966 or even earlier (but not likely before early December 1966).

There are no leaves left on the trees but there is also no sign of ice or damage to the grass that I would have done (it freezes around the grass blades and “cuts” the grass down by ripping it off with the tide).

Below is a clipping from the SMITHTOWN NEWS dated in 1967 when the second charter for the troop was presented at a “special” troop meeting.

The clipping that follows is from early 1968 and names the Patrols that the Troop started with.

The EAGLES are still in existence, as are the RAVENS (now the Black Ravens), The PANTHERS were an original Patrol in the troop as were the COBRA Patrol (now the Vipers but not identified in the article). Two other Patrols that are listed were the FLAMING ARROWS (later renamed the Flaming Sparrows) and the WOLF Patrol.

Summer Camp at Baiting Hollow 1968

Below Douglas Speidel (right) and John Ziegler (left) raise the American flag as “Camperdhip Members”

Below, Douglas Speidel, John Ziegler, Scott Hoffman and George Berger work in camp (when the canvas tents were not so old).

Building a Bridge – Douglas Speidel, Robert Bernatski, Steven Pointer and Robert Danisauage from Troop 301 joined in the fun.

The following letter was a thank you to the Troop for doing a cleanup at Lake Tiorati in Harriman State Park in 1969. The interesting thing here is that the Troop retraced its steps over 41 years later in October 2010 without even knowing it.

I spoke with Don Gamsjager and he still remembers the trip from 41 years ago. He said that the cleanup was the result of a concert that was held there. He stated it must have been “Woodstock” like by the mess left behind. Don only made it to 1st Class in his Scout career but remembers the days he spent in Troop 301 fondly.

Community service at Mills Pond Elementary School in 1970.

The troop camps at North Lake in the early 1970’s

Canoeing on the Delaware River in the early 1970’s


Below is a picture of Gary Samon. Gary was not an official member of Troop 301 but often helped out at campouts and acted as an Assistant Scoutmaster. He later went on to become a park ranger upstate New York.

Summer Camp – Baiting Hollow 1971

The Troop shows talent in PIONEERING with a swing made on site.

Evening “Flag” (called retreat).

The bulkheading looked much better at the lake back in 1971.

Sunday awards before heading home.

Even back then Troop 301 recorded an average 95% campsite cleanliness and neatness.

The pictures and clippings below are from the early 1980’s and feature, among others, the timeless Oddvar Skadberg.

Caving in the 1980’s with Mr. Oddvar Skadberg….

The Eagle Project for the thirteenth Eagle in the troop was completed in 1987. Jim Secker’s project was re-done and expanded in 2008 by the 74th Eagle, Thomas Baxley. Clipping from the Smithtown Messanger.

Peter Hans (Eagle Scout #15) being honored in 1989 (Don’t try this at home – Wearing your merit badge sash on your belt and Order of the Arrow sash across your right shoulder. Never worn at the same time and never on your belt)….But we forgive him and a very proud of him.

Below is a certificate from Baiting Hollow for Troop 301 finishing 3rd in the Aquatics competition. Please not the Aquatics director (Jim Grimaldi).

The Troop may have only scored a 3rd in Aquatics but the boys WON the camp wide games outright.



Troop 301 prepares to march in the Veteran’s Day Parade November 11th 2003

Following up the rear in this picture are assistant scoutmasters Charles Shutka, Steve Evans and David Mansfield.

Visible here are then scoutmaster Bill McKenna and assistant scoutmaster David Mansfield.

March of 2008 – The troop marching at the St. James St. Pastrick’s Day Parade.

More coming as we find it 🙂

Mr. Bauer

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