Boy Scouts uphold tradition, give back

Troops clean up Camp Somers

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  • Scouts from Boy Scout Troop 95 cut away saplings on the access road to Camp Somers in Stanhope, during Beaver Day, Saturday, April 21 Photos by Mandy Coriston

  • From left, Scout Joshua Enberg, Jr. Asst. Scoutmaster and Eagle Scout Dylan Gerisch, and Troop Instructor Eddie DiTomasso of Troop 95 from Sparta, participate in Beaver Day at Camp Somers, Saturday April 21

By Mandy Coriston

— How do you keep hundreds of Boy Scouts busy? Give them hand tools and a to-do list and set them loose on Camp Somers, the 60-year-old Boy Scout camp within the Mount Allamuchy Scout Reservation. The 1,000-acre reserve off Waterloo Road hosted area Boy Scout troops on Saturday, April 21, for the long-standing scouting tradition of Beaver Day. Named for the famously industrious rodent, Beaver Day is a day of work and service, and activities take place every spring at scout camps across the country.

More than two dozen troops from the local Patriots’ Path Council converged on Camp Somers, determined to clean up debris, repair damage, and prepare the camp for the upcoming season. Armed with hacksaws and pruners, Boy Scout Troop 95, which is based at the Sparta VFW, was tasked with clearing saplings from the sides of the reservation’s access road. Scoutmaster Don Fowler said his troop was established in 1962 and has participated in nearly every Beaver Day since the troop was formed.

“I’ve been the Scoutmaster for four years, and Beaver Day is special for us,” Fowler said. “It’s a great way for the kids to give back to the camp. It’s really important this year — there was so much tree damage from the storms this winter.”

Sixteen scouts from Troop 95, proudly wearing their troop’s insignia, clipped away at trees and brush under the watchful eye of their peer leadership. Junior Assistant Scoutmaster Dylan Gerisch, who recently achieved scouting’s highest rank of Eagle Scout, Troop Instructor Eddie DiTomasso, and Assistant Senior Patrol Leader Miles Hughes, talked about the projects of the day, and some they’ve completed in the past.

“Every troop is given a different project,” DiTomasso said, “Already this morning, we’ve cleaned out cabins, and now we are out here cutting down these saplings to keep the road clear.”

Gerisch said, “Last year we rebuilt a bathhouse, and we’ve built tent platforms at campsites. One year, we even reseeded the entire assembly field.”

DiTomasso agreed that the bathhouse was one of their most difficult projects, saying “The one whole wall was corroded away!”

Hughes said, “Some years we just stack firewood. A lot of firewood.”

Beaver Day also serves to build anticipation for the upcoming camping season. Troops that participate are given lunch and offered free camping for the night. It’s up to the troops to provide dinner for themselves, and the younger boys in Troop 95 were planning to cook up a meal of sausage and peppers.

“And cookies!” Scout Joshua Enberg said, while wielding tree pruners.

The boys were excited about the summer ahead. Camp Somers offers 4 weeks of sleep-away camp for Boy Scouts, and older scouts gave a great overview.

“You can earn merit badges, of course,” Gerisch said, “They offer between 50 to 60 a week. Everything from STEM to citizenship!”

DiTomasso and Hughes listed off some of their favorite activities, including aquatics, shooting sports, climbing, and team building exercises.

All the boys agreed the best part of camping at Camp Somers is that each week culminates with “Canoe Wars,” in which teams of three scouts per canoe try to sink each other.

“All the boys have to be certified in aquatics and there are excessive safety measures in place," Scoutmaster Fowler said.

Safety measures notwithstanding, Canoe Wars appear to be the height of summer fun for these scouts. And with Beaver Day under their belts, it seems summer may finally be on its way.

The Mount Allamuchy Scout Reservation is also home to Camp Wheeler, a day camp for Cub Scouts and the co-ed Camp COLEY. For more information about scouting and scout camps in our area, visit

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