The History of Scouting at St. Rita's
1929 to 2009

In addition to the founding of St. Rita’s Parish, 1908 also marked the year that the Scouting movement was born in England.  For much of St. Rita’s centenary, Scouting has also been a strong organization for the boys of the parish. The first Boy Scout Troop at St. Rita’s was chartered in 1929, nineteen years after the Scouting movement first came to the United States.

On October 10th, 1929, the nucleus of the first Troop Committee met to charter the new troop under the sponsorship of the St. Rita’s Holy Name Society.  As the Pastor, Reverend Hyacinth Clarey, CP, held the charter for the troop. The Troop Committee Chairman was the Holy Name Society President, J. E. Marcotte, and Mr. William Barry was designated as the first Scoutmaster. Misters R. D. Armstrong, Everett Hinojos and W. J. Schiltz made up the balance of the Assistant Scoutmasters and Troop Committee members.
The original roster consisted of nine boys between the ages of 12 and 16, all of whom had earned the rank of Tenderfoot as part of the induction requirement. The general information section of the troop application notes that meetings would be held in the school auditorium on Wednesdays at 7:00 pm, that the troop was not located in “open country”, that none of the boys lived on farms, the town population was 2,000,
that the troop was connected to a Parochial School and that membership was not limited to boys connected to the institution. The new unit was the second scout troop established in Sierra Madre and was thus designated as Troop 2. (The troop would later be re-numerated as Troop 372 in the early 60’s to coincide with the reorganization of the local scout districts). The original charter application was approved on November 30, 1929, by Tallman H. Trask, the Scout Executive for the Pasadena-San Gabriel Valley Council and for whom Camp Trask in Monrovia Canyon is named. By mid December 1929, the troop added an additional four scouts. The cost for chartering the troop that first year was $17.50 which included annual fees of $0.50 per scout, $1.00 for adult leaders, $0.45 for the Tenderfoot badges, $6.00 for Boys Life subscriptions and $0.10 for a large Scoutmaster’s certificate.

On November 19th, 1930, at the end of the first year, Everett Hinojos reported to the scout council that during the initial year:

  • 17 boys had registered, two dropped out and 15 re-registered.
  • The troop consisted of two patrols.
  • One boy went to summer camp for 10 days at a cost of $12.50
  • The troop held four meetings a month with an average attendance of 10.
  • The troop went on four overnight camps to Camp Huntington
    (now a privateresidence on the lower east portion of Rubio Canyon in Altadena)
    with an average attendance of 10 scouts.
  • One day hike was held with 11 boys in attendance.
  • The troop parked cars for the church on two occasions.
  • Twelve Scouts had advanced at least one rank, three of which earned First Class.
  • One boy earned five merit badges.

Reports from the 30’s and into the early 40’s indicate that only about half of the scouts in the troop owned a uniform and likely most of those were the uniform shirts only. During that era, it was customary for many of the scouts to wear surplus army pants from World War I that were nearly identical to the scout issue but a fraction of the cost. Today’s troop carries on that tradition by wearing surplus camouflage fatigues but more for practical than economic reasons.  Today’s uniform pants are not durable enough for the rugged outdoor activities the boys participate in. The official “Class A” uniform is only used for ceremonial or special occasions.

Overnight trips to Camp Huntington in Altadena at the base of the old Mt. Lowe Railway were popular as well as day hikes along the Mt. Wilson and the now defunct Sturtevant trails. Parking cars for special occasions at the church and the Mater Dolorosa appear to be the most frequent recorded service projects for these early days. The scouts would often attend Memorial Day observances; and during World War II, the scouts would often act as messengers for the local Civil Defense Corps.
The troop continued until 1971 when it disbanded due largely to the lack of enthusiasm of the youth of that era and a shortage of committed adult leadership. After 52 years of activity, the Boy Scouts would disband and no longer be a part of the parish youth until being revived by one of St. Rita’s priests, dedicated parents, and interested boys.

So far, it has not been possible to determine how many of the early scouts of Troop 2/372 earned scouting’s highest rank, Eagle Scout. (Scout records at that time lumped higher-ranking scouts into the category of “First Class and higher”). It is thought that Robert Carrier was the first troop member to attain the rank of Eagle Scout in 1967. The April 13, 1969, edition of the Los Angeles Times reported that 15-year-old Ralph McAvoy of Troop 372 became the 5th of five brothers to earn the rank of Eagle Scout. (Ralph’s older brothers earned Eagle Scout in different troops). The first scout known to have earned the Ad Altare Dei, the Catholic Church’s medal of recognition for religious development, was Robert Newbery, Jr. in 1939.

Even though only approximately 4% of the boys who enter the scouting program will go on to earn the Eagle Scout, the skills and lessons learned serve them well in adulthood. Many of our scouts have returned to serve the troop, parish, the city as well as the United States. Some families have had as many as three generations of young men who have been Boy scouts at St. Rita’s.

Original Boy Scout Troop 2 Roster, 1929:
Roger J. Armstrong
Earl Baylow
Robert Brennan
Richard Marago
George Otte
David W. Palmer
Carton Scalzo
Joseph Scalzo
Joseph McCloskey

Charles Collins
Joseph Hinojos *
Norman Jaeger
Edward McCloskey
* Joe Hinojos became notable in Sierra Madre for photographs of many of the town’s events and residents. The Sierra Madre Historical Society has an extensive collection of his works.
Scouting at St. Rita’s
1987 - Present
Interest in reforming the Troop resurged in the spring of 1987 when Father Doug Saunders from St. Rita’s Catholic Church of Sierra Madre worked with the San Gabriel Valley Council Boy Scouts to once again bring the Boy Scouts back to St. Rita’s. The reformed troop would bear the Troop Number of 110. There were about eleven families that showed interest at the first meeting. Most families had no clue as to what forming a Boy Scout Troop entailed with the exception of some dads who had been scouts themselves.  That was all going to change when a young man emerged from the audience to say that he was prepared to step up as Troop 110 Scoutmaster.
Roger Devaney had grown up with scouting, his own dad had been a scoutmaster and Roger was an Eagle Scout himself.  The first Court of Honor was on May 22, 1987, and honored the founding 20 scouts: Ryan Conway, David Francis, Geoff Grush, Ryan Hagen, J. P.  Leberrie, Paul Lee, Philip Lee, Scott Leming, Greg Kathol, Tom McCarthy, John Mozov, Gary Otto, Michael Singleton, Trevor Spicer, Chris Sterling, Patrick Taroc, Tom Twedell, Colby Walsworth, Brett Wong, and Dennis Wukovitz. Most of the scouts were very young, averaging about 11 years old.   The age of the boys did not stop Roger from tackling the outdoors and challenging them to push their skills each month.  In fact, most of the scouts had refined their skills enough to allow them to climb Mt. Whitney (14,496’) that following October. The troop has always stressed outdoor exploration, and tailors the activities to reinforce that principal throughout the entire scouting experience. 

We bid farewell to Roger Devaney after two years when his family relocated to the State of Washington.  Jim Walsworth stepped up to be our next Scoutmaster to continue the enthusiastic spirit that has always been present in the Troop.  This was evident at activities or service projects that the Troop has tackled.  Jim led the troop for the next three years with a variety of activities such as summer camp in Catalina and deep sea fishing trips as well as the normal snow

camps and caroling for the elderly each December.  We wished Jim well in February of 1992 when he passed the Scoutmaster torch to Ed Stanislawski. Ed brought new enthusiasm and a new program of activities to the troop. During the next four years, the troop experienced life on an aircraft carrier, a destroyer (The U.S.S. Missouri), visited the Naval Top Gun School and visits to military bases as well as camping and hiking activities.   
Dave Pett took the reins as Scoutmaster in September 1996.  Under his guidance, the troop has continued to excel in outdoors experience, community service and self reliance. Today’s scouts are a diverse group who share a wide variety of experiences; such as, summer backpacking, horse packing, desert camping and snow camping. Some
of the annual highlights include the winter desert camp at Mule Canyon in the Calico Mountains, the Mt. Wilson Trail Race support at Orchard Camp, and summer trips to the High Sierras. Troop 110 has also gained the reputation as the “go-to” troop for civic activities and is often called on to act as color guard for city sponsored events. Sponsors of the Wisteria Festival, Walk for Life, Art Fair and other events rely on the troop to help in various ways. Just recently the Troop helped with St Rita’s Centennial directing traffic as well as performing Eagle Projects to improve the parish facilities. The Senior Patrol also has the responsibility for monthly cleaning and maintenance of the Veterans Memorial Wall.

Perhaps the most important experiences the young men gain from Troop 110 are leadership skills and the unique esprit de corps of this troop. The boys are encouraged to create their own agenda to plan activities and solve the logistical problems in achieving their goals to the best of their abilities. The older scouts mentor the younger boys and instill in them the responsibility and encouragement to move forward as a team.

Of course, the scouting movement at St. Rita’s would not be possible without the support of the parish community, particularly our pastors throughout the years who realized the importance of the scouting programs for our youth. One member of St. Rita’s parish, Tom McCarthy, has been active with the Troop 110 since its reorganization with Roger Devaney in 1987.  Tom still serves as the Troop Charter Representative and is a member of the Advancement Committee.

As of this writing, we are proud to announce that this reorganized Troop 110 has produced 38 Eagle Scouts since 1987 revitalization. Please visit our Eagle Scout Honor Roll.

TAW/TMcC
Jan/2013
Calendar | Events | Eagles | Windtalker | Forms | Stuff | Links