The men who have led Boy Scout Troop 102 for years are now passing that responsibility onto their children.
Jason Potosnak, Michael Rusiniak, and Cory Sikder are all Eagle Scouts and leaders in the troop. They’ve continued to help despite being too old to be Scouts themselves. Boy Scouts is only open to young men 11 to 18 years old.
“We were all born into the troop,” said Rusiniak, an assistant scoutmaster. He began accompanying his father Steve on camping trips when he was a toddler. “We all had a lot of experience being with the Scouts and camping when we were young. Just because I turned 18 doesn’t mean that I can’t be a part of what goes on here anymore.”
Sikder’s father Chitta said the boys have learned a tremendous amount by joining the Scouts. They’ve learned even more since becoming leaders. Potosnak and Rusiniak are assistant scoutmasters. Cory is the troop’s advancement chair.
“Leading isn’t just putting your feet up at a campfire and watching others, there’s a lot more to it than that,” Chitta said. “A lot of people think they can be leaders, but not everyone can be. There are so many different personalities that you have to deal with.”
Steve Rusiniak knows what it means to be a leader. He was a scoutmaster when he was 24. Some of the scouts in his troop were from single-parent homes. They would often drop by his house after school and show him progress reports. Some wrote about him, and the impact he had on their lives, in reports.
“It’s a neat feeling when a scout walks up to you with someone and says to them ‘this is the guy I was telling you about’,” Rusiniak said with a smile. “That’s a neat thing to happen.”
Troop 102 is the longest continuously serving troop in town. It was founded in 1928. More than 70 boys have earned the rank of Eagle Scout during the troop’s history. The troop meets at the on Tuesdays, the same place it was founded 84 years ago.
Scoutmaster John McKennon said the Boy Scouts is about more than just camping or knot tying. It is about helping others and, as the Scout Oath states, keeping “physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.” The Scout Law states that Scouts are to be trustworthy, courteous, obedient, and brave.
“These are important ideas and they are important words,” McKennon said. “The Scouts have been teaching that for years. Those words, they are the foundation of morality and that’s what Scouting is ultimately about.”
But beyond morality and leadership, there is friendship.
“Once you’re in the troop, you’re never really out of the troop,” Michael Rusiniak said. “How many times can you say you’ve gone camping with your best friends all the time while growing up?”