Outgoing Scoutmaster Rich Davis poses with current and past members of Boy Scout Troop 70 of Williamsown on the day of his last meeting.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — There's only one question left for Rich Davis, retiring after 17 years of being Scoutmaster for Boy Scout Troop 70 in Williamstown.
"What are you going to do on Thursdays now?" incoming Scoutmaster Emily Brannan asked Davis at a party celebrating Davis' retirement on Dec. 21 (a Thursday, of course).
"My wife will come up with something," Davis quipped to applause and laughter from the current and past Scouts and their families gathered in the parish center of St. Patrick and Raphael Parish after a regular Thursday Scout meeting to bid him farewell and wish him well.
Davis' involvement with Troop 70 actually started 25 years ago when he had a son in the troop from 1992 to 1997. Unlike many parent volunteers, however, he didn't leave the troop after his son earned Eagle Scout and graduated from high school.
"I stayed. I enjoyed working with the young Scouts," he said.
Davis said his favorite memories include taking the Scouts camping to Boy Scout camps and staying overnight at Six Flags parks in New Jersey and Lake George, N.Y. But his most cherished memories are when a scout earns that highest honor: Eagle Scout.
"One of the highlights is whenever a Scout has an Eagle court of honor," he said.
Addressing the current Scouts - there are currently nine in Troop 70 - Davis reiterated his desire to see them all reach that peak of accomplishment.
"I hope to see all these other Scouts … advance to Eagle and go off and make a good life for themselves," he said. "Just remember what's at the end of the rainbow, what the goal is, to become an Eagle Scout."
One of those scouts, 17-year-old McCann Technical School senior Beau Lahey, is currently working toward Eagle Scout. He said he started with the troop in sixth grade and was happy to be part of a "special troop" like this one, even with mixed feelings with the retirement of Davis.
"It's sad. Mr. Davis stuck with us the entire time," he said. "I've spent a lot of Thursday nights here."
To the parents of the scouts, Davis advised pushing them to achieve their goal, like he did for his son.
"I silently kept pushing him along. You keep doing that to your scouts," he said. "They need the parents to encourage them to keep moving on."
Boys also need parents to step up and volunteer. Brannan, who became involved with Troop 70 with her two sons, said there currently is no Cub Scout pack for younger boys in Williamstown because there are no volunteers to run it; Boy Scout Troop 70 is waiting to accept five boys when they "cross over" after fifth grade.
Davis, who is also retired from his job in the payroll department at Williams College, also said more people should consider volunteering with the Scouts.
"The Scouting program is a great opportunity to provide youths with skills they might not get anywhere else," he said.
What Davis himself offered Troop 70 over the years, Brannan said, was stability on all those Thursday nights over the years.
"You can come and you're going to learn something and you're going to have some fun," she said. "He's been an excellent role model for adults and for kids. I just hope I can continue that."
Brandon said she is in the minority, being a woman leading a troop of boys, but it has worked out fine during her tenure as assistant scoutmaster over the years.
"They're totally comfortable with me being the leader," she said.
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