Editor's Note: The following is a news release issued by Lawrence Township Boy Scout Troop 28.
Do a good turn daily. That is the Boy Scout slogan, but more than just a phrase to the dedicated adult leaders of Boy Scout Troop 28, Lawrence, who embody those words through their dedication to an organization close to their hearts.
Troop 28 at 93 years is one of the longest-running Boy Scout troops in the country. The troop boasts a current roster of leaders that collectively have more than 160 years experience in scouting and possesses a catalog of knowledge that is unsurpassed.
But the sum of those years only slightly surpasses the lifelong commitment made to the troop by Robert Inglis, who in 2012 celebrated 73 years as a member of Boy Scout Troop 28.
Among those recognized recently by the troop for their significant contributions to the youth of the community were Robert Murawski, 16 years; Cliff Reed, 30 years; and Cliff Stoop, with 41 years.
While Murawski, Reed and Stoop still actively lead the troop on camping trips, it is Inglis, who had most greatly influenced the direction of the troop.
Although he could not participate in Scout activities these past few years because of his health, his presence is indelible at the Troop 28 cabin named in his honor and located on the grounds of the troop’s charter, Lawrence Road Presbyterian Church.
Troop 28 meets every Friday night at the Robert Inglis Cabin, tucked behind the church. The plain exterior of the brick-red cinderblock building belies the treasures within: Rough hewn benches, mounted deer heads, burnished wood carvings, trail maps, camping gear - a veritable treasure trove of boyhood possessions.
At the troop reorganization meeting, where new boys who have advanced in rank from Webelos to Boy Scout gathered with the troop for the first time, Assistant Scoutmaster Robert Murawski made sure the youngest scouts understood the sizable contributions Mr. Inglis has made to the organization.
“This cabin we’re gathered in is important to us because it’s named after a very special person,” Murawski explained to the boys. “Mr. Bob Inglis was a scoutmaster here many, many years ago, and was an adventurer and pioneer.” Gesturing to the bookshelves packed with outdoor guide books and the wall posters promising high adventures, Murawski added, “If you look around this space, you can see how important scouting is to him.”
Original church records show Troop 28’s sponsorship with Lawrence Road Presbyterian Church began Feb. 25, 1919, and records of the Trustees Minutes Books record Mr. Inglis’ first affiliation with the Troop in 1939.
19 February 1939 (Session): “Discussion of the possibility of reorganizing Boy Scout Troop. Have an interview with Robert Inglis regarding Leadership of Troop.”
Inglis joined the Boy Scouts of America at the age of 12 while living in Sheridan, Wyoming. His family moved to the Lawrence area a few years later, and through a chance meeting with a meteorologist at a Scout function in the mid-1930s, he was given an opportunity at the tender age of 17 to take part in an expedition to Greenland, where he was a member of Troop 12 and its Boy Scout Mounted Troop.
In a 1998 interview with Rutgers History Department, Inglis recalled his first camping trip. “I remember the first camping trip I went on. We had to use a pack basket, and I think we carried everything but the kitchen sink in it. If you fell over backwards you couldn't get up without help because the weight was all on the back.”
By November 1939, Inglis, even though he was still a teenager, was named Acting Assistant Scoutmaster, and after a stint in the Army, in 1943 became the first man in Troop 28 to attain the prestigious rank of Eagle. Since that time, more than 60 other young men in the Troop have attained that highest rank.
Today, Troop 28 conducts service projects such as food drives for the needy or park clean up. Funds are raised through car washes or hot dog sales. Archives show service projects in the 1940s included the collection of scrap paper that was bound and stored in a garage in Eldridge Park before being picked up.
Inglis recalled: “The troop used to raise funds for camping by collecting old newspapers monthly. We owned an old Chevy canopy delivery truck we made rounds with. When the fire companies started collecting paper, we turned to other sources of revenue.”
Records show that the late 1940s also saw the construction of the second half of the scout cabin. The first half had been built by the Men’s Club of the Church in the early 1930s while the second half of the Cabin was built by the troop with assistance and guidance from builder Aubrey Oldenburg, a member of the Troop Committee.
After serving in various roles with the troop through the 1940s and ‘50s, in the 1960s and ‘70s, Inglis again took over the leadership role as Scoutmaster, and the Troop’s identity as a high-adventure troop began to solidify, with long treks in the Adirondacks, Delaware Water Gap and more.
Perhaps the most notable achievement for Troop 28 in the early 1960s was a challenging 75-mile hike from the Scout Cabin to Camp Pahaquarra near the Delaware Water Gap. Referred to as “The Great Hike” in Troop archives, 16 of the 18 boys who started from the Scout Cabin finished the 75- mile trek.
According to published newspaper reports of July 23, 1962:
“The two who failed to complete the hike were forced out of action by bad blisters. Completing the hike were Warren Danley, Andre Williams, Walter Bullock, John Mahan, Robert Lavinakas, Tony Arid, Edward Ford, Andrew Klish, Charles Brown, Henry Ganges, William Barry, Walter Breitinger, David Bushar, David Loveless, John Bushar, and Joseph Mahan. The adult leaders who took turns leading the hikers were: Robert Inglis, Scoutmaster, Richard Breitinger, Assistant Scoutmaster, John Russell, Earl W. Danley, James Efinger, George W. Ford and Joseph M. Mahan.”
Troop 28’s adventures in the Adirondacks are numerous. There are at least 10 former or present members who have climbed the Adirondack 46, the 46 peaks over 4,000 feet. The Troop has also had its share of excitement in the mountains, having brushes with a variety of wildlife, from bears to raccoons.
Today, Troop 28 continues to be built from rugged stock and prides itself on the fact that it has never canceled a camping trip because of the weather. Many times during its long history the Troop braced against difficult weather conditions during campouts and today’s troop members have proved they are equally resilient as the boys who camped in minus-10 degree temperatures on the night of Jan. 16, 1982.
Upon their return from the 2011 Klondike Derby, news reports chronicled the Troop’s adventures on a bitter cold night at the Kittatinny Mountain Scout Reservation. The overnight low temperature was -4 degrees.
The news report continues:
“Nine scouts – ranging in age from 11 to 17 – from Troop 28 and three adult chaperones skilled in extreme-weather camping took part in the Klondike Derby, an annual Boy Scouts of America event dating back to the late 1940s that is designed to test scouts’ outdoor survival skills… Before they could even begin to erect their tents, the scouts had to dig away about 15 inches of snow. The scouts finally crawled into their sleeping bags around 12:30 a.m. Saturday and settled down for the night, with only the thin nylon walls of their tents to keep out the wind.”
Troop 28 would not be possible without the significant contributions to the program by the dedicated adult leaders such as Inglis and all the others who have taught and mentored hundreds of young men over the past 93 years. The latest crop of boys who were recently welcomed into Troop 28 hopes to continue the legacy.
Inglis, in his 1998 interview, summed up what scouting has meant to his life. “I would say the Boy Scouts prepared me for just about everything.”