Boy Scout Troop 46 has a long history of helping boys in Blawenburg and Montgomery Township develop good values as they progress throughout their teenage years. While many things have changed in scouting over the years, the core values, which are cited in this blog, have stayed with many scouts and served as a model for them throughout their lives. In this blog, we look at how Troop 46 has implemented the teaching of its values over many years.
This cake was enjoyed on Scout Sunday at Blawenburg Church in February, 2023. The official logo is in the center of the cake, and the symbols in the corners show two ways the scouts and church work together— raking leaves and selling wreaths.
This year marks the 90th anniversary of Boy Scout Troop 46, which began in Blawenburg in 1933. The troop was and still is sponsored by Blawenburg Reformed Church. The troop and the church have been linked from the start.
According to Britannica, “the Boy Scout movement was founded in Great Britain in 1908 by a cavalry officer, Lieutenant General Robert S.S. (later Lord) Baden-Powell, who had written a book called Scouting for Boys (1908).” On February 8, 1910, scouting began in America as the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). On June 15, 1916, it was officially chartered by Congress. Scouting was and still is based on principles developed by Robert Braden-Powell’s international scouting movement.
The Library of Congress notes that the “primary goals of the American (Boy Scout) movement were to help boys develop the skills, the knowledge, and the ‘character’ required to better serve themselves and their country.”
These goals are outlined in the Scout Oath and Law. The oath says, “On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.”
The scout law expands the oath to reflect the 12 core values of scouting. "A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent." Scouts recite the oath and law at meetings and events as a reminder of their scouting and personal goals.
Until June, 2023, the troop was chartered with a 1936 startup date; however, the troop was organized in 1933 as Troop #1, Blawenburg, New Jersey. The following year, it was chartered by the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America to implement a program of character building, Americanization, and citizenship training. It kept the Troop #1 name until 1936, when, for unknown reasons, it was renamed Troop 46. The current leaders petitioned the BSA national organization to change the official start date to 1933 and provided sufficient evidence to gain their approval.
The second charter for Troop #1 - 1935
This painted turtle shell is in the scout showcase in Cook Hall, Blawenburg Church. It shows the start date of the troop as ’33 at the top. It was likely painted 50 years ago in 1973, since this is the most recent date on the shell.
According to Troop Committee Chair Kathy Lawler, “A Troop Committee manages the administrative function of the troop, while the Scoutmaster and Assistant Scoutmasters oversee the program activities and provide guidance to the Scouts.” The Troop Committee consists of Chairperson Lawler, Rev. Jeff Knol, representing the sponsoring organization, and Scoutmaster, Mike Babler. Beyond this adult leadership, the troop is run by the scouts themselves. They take pride in being a youth-led organization. The belief is that to become leaders, scouts need experience in leading.
Much like the military, the troop is divided into patrols. These smaller groups learn how to work together to achieve goals and make their patrol successful. Each patrol has a name and one of the boys is chosen as the leader. They try to have exciting names such as the Flaming Arrows. There is a lot of healthy competition between patrols as they help each other work through the ranks of scouting. They hold competitions demonstrating skills. For example, the 1972 records show the troop held competitions in tent pitching, relay races, and fire building. The patrols like to have bragging rights to bring to the next event.
The patrols have contests that reveal the values imbedded in scouting. The minutes from April 8, 1946 show the way scouts could earn points for their patrol.
Be present at the meeting
Bring your handbook
Look neat and clean
Attend church or Sunday school
Move up in rank
Bring in a recruit
Bring in waste paper tied up
Bring in a school report with passing grades
Show good conduct
Boys between the ages of 10 and 18 can join a scout troop. To advance in scouting, boys have specific tasks at each rank and also must earn merit badges, which are awards for demonstrating proficiency in specific areas. There are over 130 different merit badges covering many different areas. Some merit badges such as Camping, Communication, and First Aid are required to attain the highest rank of Eagle. Most merit badges are optional in order to appeal to the diverse interests of scouts. These can range from topics such as American business to welding.
Scouts proudly display the merit badges they earn on sashes such as this.
A Record of Achievement
The highest rank in scouting is the Eagle Award. To attain this, scouts must first achieve the ranks of Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, and Life. Each rank has its own set of requirements. According to the Boy Scouts of America, to attain the rank of Eagle, scouts need to accumulate at least 21 merit badges, 14 of which are in specific areas. They must also demonstrate their understanding and application of the Scout Oath and Law as well as leadership and outdoor skills. They must also successfully complete a comprehensive project in the community.
Troop 46 has had an outstanding record of scouts reaching the rank of Eagle. On September 24, 1966, Larry May, who grew up in Blawenburg and continued living in Montgomery Township in his early adult years, was the first Troop 46 scout to receive an Eagle Award. Since that time, 217 scouts have followed in Larry’s footsteps, and five or six more scouts are expected to attain the highest rank in 2023.
Scout meetings followed a prescribed order in the early days. The meeting usually began at 7:20 or 7:30pm and was led by one of the senior patrol leaders. The Order of Business was much like other meetings of the day following the format outlined in the Second Meeting Book of Troop 46. Meeting minutes were written by a Scribe, who often added a nickname such as Chipmunk to their signature on the minutes. The meeting format was:
Meeting called to order
Reading of the minutes of the previous meeting
Reading of the bills and communications
Reports of committees
The scouts were not eager to spend a long time in meetings, because they had other things to do such as working on merit badges and playing games. A quick glance at the minutes from 1937 shows that the meetings often lasted 10 minutes! The faster the meeting, the sooner the fun could begin. Perhaps they knew something that adults have forgotten about!
Meetings were often held in the Church House of Blawenburg Church, which today is the home of Blawenburg Village Preschool; however, the records show that the scouts met often at Smalley Hall, which was a gymnasium/auditorium at the State Village for Epileptics. They played basketball with other troops and also included patients in some of their games and activities. Today, meetings are held on Mondays from 7:00 to 8:30pm during the school year at the Princeton Elks Lodge in Blawenburg.
World War II
World War II upended routine life in the country and the world. Troop 46 did their part to support the war effort. At a meeting on September 18,1944, they were challenged to collect 1000 pounds of paper per scout. During the war people saved paper, string, aluminum foil, and other recyclable materials to conserve resources. The minutes of a meeting said “It was decided that each boy would go around his immediate community and gather up what paper he could, and then when a truck was available it wouldn’t be necessary to make so many stops.” It was later announced that the scouts made “a fine showing in the Scrap Paper Drive.”
Similarly, the scout troop participated in the Sixth War Loan Drive, which enabled scout families to pledge to buy bonds to support the war. The scouts would get credit in the troop for their participation.
During World War II there was a movement away from the traditional uniforms, which included short pants, knee socks, and wide-brimmed hats to what they called “overseas hats” and “long trousers.” Perhaps they were trying to look more like the military troops who were fighting the war.
In more recent times, the uniforms have changed to fit more modern dress. The overseas hats have been replaced by caps, and a variety of seasonal uniform options are available.
Boy Scout Lee Van Cleef wearing the scout uniform in 1936.
Camping has always been an important part of scouting. It’s a chance for scouts to learn about survival, independence, cooperation, and many more skills. Burnt hot dogs, visiting the latrine, and rainy days, provide memories for a lifetime.
Scouts must eat, rain or shine!
Unlike today, scouts had many options for camping in Montgomery Township in the early years of scouting. One favorite spot was known as Camp Van Zandt. It was within walking distance of Blawenburg crossroad on the north side of Rock Brook as shown in the picture below. This was a cow pasture in the 1930s and 40s.
Camp Van Zandt is marked with an X on the graphic. Blawenburg/Route 518 crossroad is on the right. The area south of the camp is now a development, but it used to all be part of Broadview Farm, owned by the Van Zandt family.
Dick Van Zandt remembers other local camping spots. “During my years in scouting in Troop 46, we camped in a meadow on Duncan Campbell’s farm (right next to the canal) and also at a spot west of the Great Road on a small stream that is now part of the Beden’s Brook Golf Course.”
Scouts also used to camp at Camp Pahaquarra in Columbia, NJ near the Delaware Water Gap in the summer. One of the more interesting “finds” in the scout records was an award won by Troop 46 for “catching the largest poisonous snake” on August 3, 1963. We presume there was somebody nearby with a snake bite kit!
Troop Committee Chair, Kathy Lawler noted, “Hikes, campouts, community service and other events are conducted each month. The troop attends camp each summer as well. We will be returning to Yawgoog Scout Reservation in Rockville, RI this year.” The troop has been going on the Rhode Island campout since the 1990s.
It's about the Values
Scouting is about more than achieving ranks. Its core values outlined in the Oath and Law are really what scouting is about. These principles are woven into everything the scouts do—earning merit badges, camping, leadership, and living everyday life. To be a scout means to live your life with purpose, to conduct yourself in a wholesome manner, and to be concerned about others and how you work with them. Many of these values seem to be given short shrift in our society today, and as a result, there are many examples of people showing little regard for others. Perhaps we should all recite the Scout Oath and Laws to remind ourselves about the way we ought to live our lives.
Thanks to the many leaders of Troop 46 for 90 years of helping to promote wholesome values. I know from personal experience that the values I learned in Boy Scouts has stuck with me for a lifetime.
1. In the early years of scouting, the attendance at the church Sunday School was recorded at scout meetings along with attendance. The church kept a watchful eye on the religious development of scouts.
2. In recent years, the national percentage of scouts who attain the rank of Eagle is between 6-7% according to Scouting Magazine. Over the history of scouting, the percentage reaching the rank of Eagle is about 4%.
3. Troop 46 membership has varied over the years. In the beginning there were 10 -20 troop members. There are currently about 75 boys in the troop.
4. Not to be outdone by the boys, Girl Scouts of the USA was formed on March 12,1912 to help girls develop similar qualities as those of Boy Scouts. Given the perceived differences in roles between men and women at that time, many of the girls’ activities were oriented toward homemaking. This is no longer the primary focus of girl scouting.
Many things have changed in girl scouting today. Girls have other options for scouting. They can still join the Girl Scouts of the USA. Also, since 1971, girls have been able to join boys in the Venturing troops, which go age 21. Girls between 10 and 18 years old can also join a separate, but equal, girls-only scout troop and follow the same protocol as Boy Scouts. Troop 46 is a Boy Scout troop.
Special thanks for Kathy Lawler, Committee Chair of Troop 46, for providing troop records and other information for this blog.
Thanks to Dick Van Zandt and Bill Van Zandt for information about Camp Van Zandt.
Troop 46 archive
Scout cake – D. Cochran
1935 charter - Troop 46 records/Scanned by D. Cochran
Turtle shell – D. Cochran
Merit badge sash - Scouting Magazine - https://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2014/03/21/everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about-merit-badge-sashes/
Eagle newspaper article - Troop 46 records/Scanned by K. Lawler
Lee Van Cleef picture - Troop 46 records/Scanned by D. Cochran
Camping - Troop 46 records/scanned by D. Cochran
Camp Van Zandt location – D. Van Zandt
Snake certificate – Troop 46 records/Scanned by D. Cochran
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David Cochran's author site: http://www.dcochran.net