'On My Honor’.....

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Troop 177 Celebrates A Scouting Milestone

By Liz Premo, Atlantic News Staff Writer

Atlantic News, Friday, February 22, 2008

[The following article is courtesy of Atlantic News]
RECOGNITION -- Doug Aykroyd (right) scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 177 in Hampton, distributes badges during the troop's recent Court of Honor event. The troop is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.
[Atlantic News Photo by Liz Premo]

The Court of Honor was held at St. James Lodge in Hampton. Boy Scouts, their families and supporters from the community gathered in Barker Hall for a chicken and rice dinner, anniversary cake and fellowship, followed by the official program.

The proceedings included the presentation of awards to Troop 177 Scouts who had advanced to Tenderfoot, Second Class and First Class rankings. In addition, an assortment of merit badges were distributed to deserving Scouts who had met all the necessary requirements to achieve their goals.

Presentations were also given in appreciation to those individuals and organizations which show their support to Troop 177 throughout the year. Among the gifts: An impressive BSA-issued coin commemorating the organization’s 100th anniversary; and the Ford Award, recognizing Robert Ford, Troop 177’s first scoutmaster.

Special recognition of Troop 177’s 75th anniversary was offered in a number of ways during the Court of Honor, the first of several that will be held this year. Scoutmaster Doug Aykroyd displayed the troop’s flag, which now has a 75th anniversary bar affixed to it. An impressive display at one end of the hall featured uniforms, scout manuals, various insignia and other artifacts from the troop’s history.

During the program it was announced that US Senator John E. Sununu’s office would be sending an American flag that flew over the capitol building in Washington, DC on February 12, in honor of the troop.

Speaking of which, an American flag which had flown over the New Hampshire state capitol building in Concord on January 8 was presented to the troop by NH State Senator, Martha Fuller Clark. She read an official proclamation issued by NH Governor John Lynch, who extended his "personal best wishes and sincerest congratulations" to the Troop 177.

"The offerings of fun outdoor activities, group leadership opportunities, personal exploration of character for all members and involvement with several service projects is celebrated," Gov. Lynch wrote. "The State of New Hampshire is fortunate to have such an organization in the community. On behalf of the citizens of New Hampshire I commend you for the commitment you have given and wish you all the best in the future."

If the past is any indication, Troop 177’s next 75 years should be just as honorable and pride-worthy as the first.

"I think its something that we can look at with great satisfaction," says Aykroyd, who has been Troop 177’s scoutmaster for the past 15 years, "because it shows that there have been a lot of people in town committed to the scouting program, and we are carrying on what they started" when the troop was first established in 1933.

Currently, Troop 177 has 17 registered Boy Scouts, with an age range from 11-17. They meet regularly at the First Congregational Church, a faithful sponsor. Throughout the year they are involved in numerous activities, including camp-outs and challenges tied to earning merit badges. They hold the Court of Honor events three times a year, to provide immediate recognition to the Scouts who have earned it.

The reason is simple: "When guy earns a badge we don’t want him to wait for a long time for public acknowledgement," says Aykroyd.

Over the years, between 1946-2006, the troop has produce 41 Eagle Scouts from their numbers. Aykroyd (himself an Eagle Scout) and his wife Elizabeth have a son, Peter, who earned this highest distinction in 1993 as part of Troop 177.

Becoming an Eagle Scout "is an option," explains Aykroyd, and "making a boy an Eagle Scout is not the goal of the program" (in fact, only 3-5 percent of boys who join Boy Scouts will become Eagle Scouts).

The main goal of the Eagle Scout program, he says, "is to help the boys grow into manhood with the ability to make good decisions based on the Scout Oath and Law."

Aykroyd adds, "It’s the one national achievement that everybody across the country recognizes" and an honor "that a boy earns because he puts his mind to it and he makes it happen. Boys who will become Eagle Scouts understand that it’s going to take work and it’s going to take up [a lot of their] free time … but they recognize at the end of the day that they have accomplished something very, very important."

Aykroyd has noticed that scouting makes a huge impression on the young men involved, whether it was for just a short time or for the duration.

"In the years that I’ve been the scoutmaster I’ve had guys that went through the [entire] program and I’m real happy and proud of what they’ve done," he says. "But I’m also proud when I see [a former scout] and he’ll still says, 'Hey, Mr. Aykroyd, good to see you!’ We still feel [they] have profited from their time in the troop as well."

And, he adds, "It’s not just our troop. I think scouting in general is offering this wonderful opportunity" for participants’ growth in character. "It’s not just my views, but views shared by other people who have been in scouting over the years."

One shining example of the impact scouting can make is when Aykroyd ran into a former short-term scout. During the course of their brief conversation, the young man told him, "I can communicate with people better now." Says Aykroyd, borrowing a phrase from a popular credit card ad, "When you get something like that, that’s priceless."

Being part of Troop 177 has been a priceless experience for those who have been a part of it throughout the last 75 years. To read more about the troop’s history and to see photos of the different activities its members have participated in, visit www.bsatroop177.org.

DEDICATED -- Members of Hampton Boy Scout Troop 177 recite the Boy Scout oath during a rededication ceremony at their recent Court of Honor, held at St. James Lodge.
[Atlantic News Photo by Liz Premo]

COMMENDATION -- New Hampshire State Senator Martha Fuller Clark reads a citation from Governor John Lynch honoring Troop 177s 75 anniversary.
[Atlantic News Photo by Liz Premo]
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