Boy Scout Troop 907, which meets each Thursday night at the First Church of Christ, this year marked its 50th anniversary.
The Scouts celebrated in style at a church luncheon on Oct. 28, with local and state officials in attendance and several former scouts and scoutmasters reconnecting over soup and cake.
Several former scoutmasters stepped up to the podium to talk about the times of fellowship they shared. “We did things you can’t do today,” said Robert Conniff, Troop’s 907’s first scoutmaster back in 1968. As an example he brought a pair of boxing gloves.
But it was not all fun and games. “You had to teach to lead and then let them lead,” he said. “We formed the troop on that principle.”
Former Scoutmaster Nate Case remarked that there are 35 Scout-led projects in Woodbridge, 25 of them performed by Troop 907 Scouts, many at the Alice Newton Street Park.
The oldest Scout in attendance was Gerry Langeler, who reached the rank of Eagle Scout in 1929, way before Troop 907 existed. Langeler went on to serve as scoutmaster in the 1940s and 50s, when Charlie Whiting was a young Boy Scout himself. Now 102, Mr. Langeler lives in New Haven. Other former Scouts and parents, such as Geoff Smith, came up all the way from North Carolina to reconnect with old friends.
First Selectman Beth Heller delivered a proclamation from the town, which congratulated troop leaders for instilling a sense of ethics and leadership in the future generation of young leaders. Similarly, state Senator George Logan and state Rep. Themis Klarides brought a citation from the General Assembly. Klarides said the qualities that these adult leaders are nurturing are those “we all want in a person: integrity, strength and morals.” Logan thanked them for their commitment to take on a leadership role.
Committee Chair Rich Forselius also touched on the struggles that the troop has faced at times. “Scouting is competitive,” he said, adding that there are four troops in Woodbridge. After its hayday in the 1970s and 80s, “there have been lean times when we were not certain if the troop could continue to exist,” he said. However, currently they have an active and cohesive group of about 13 active Scouts, under the leadership of Scoutmaster Tom Luciani.
Forselius also talked about the future and brought up the point that starting in February, Boy Scouts of America will be accepting girls and become “Scouts BSA.” Girls will be allowed the same membership and rank requirements as boys, he said. However, girls will join all-girl troops. Boys will continue to join all-boy troops.
Former Scoutmaster Robert Conniff said he occasionally runs into former charges of his who will come up to him and thank him. “I am proud that the troop is still running,” he said.
- State and local officials congratulate Boy Scouts Troop 907 on the troop’s 50th anniversary celebration. Back row, from left, Anthony Luciani, State Sen. George Logan, State Rep. Themis Klarides, MC Tom Morrissey, Rich Forselius, holding the proclamation; Scout Master Tom Luciani and First Selectman Beth Heller. Kneeling, from left, Scouts Evan Morazzini, Jason Luciani, Ben Rickel, Senior Patrol Leader Rich Zheng, Matt Longo, Daniel Zhang, Jason Zhang and Felix Liu.
- Gerry Langeler (center) became an Eagle Scout in 1929. Now 102 years old, he attended the 50th anniversary of Troop 907 at the First Church of Christ. He is shown with First Selectman Beth Heller (left) and his daughter, Penny Rogers.
- Robert Conniff was the first Troop 907 scoutmaster back in 1968. He is shown reminiscing at the troop’s 50th anniversary celebration at First Church of Christ.
By Bettina Thiel – Woodbridge Town News Correspondent