TOWNSEND -- For Bruce Williams, leading a Boy Scout troop has always been more about letting the boys in the troop lead themselves.
"The biggest thing I see boys get out of Scouting is that they learn how to be leaders of their own peers. The adults just stand behind them and support them," he said.
Williams, 54, stepped down this week as the Scoutmaster of Troop 81 in Townsend after 20 years in the position. A surprise party was thrown on June 9 at the Townsend Congregational Church hall, where former troop members came to wish Williams well and thank him for his dedication.
"I've had boys that have become lawyers, boys that are in the Marines, boys in the Air Force. I've seen them take up all kinds of careers," Williams said.
Some former troop members who could not be there in person used video chat to send their greetings.
Williams, who works as network administrator for the North Middlesex Regional School District, said that two bad knees are the reason behind his stepping down.
Although he will no longer be Scoutmaster, he will still be involved with the troop as a member of the Boy Scout Troop Committee, helping with the rank advancement of troop members.
In his time as Scoutmaster, Williams has helped 38 boys to become Eagle Scouts, the highest advancement rank possible.
He said the best part of being a Scoutmaster is seeing the boys grow up into responsible young men.
Todd Arsenault, who met Williams when Arsenault's son joined the troop eight years ago, is taking over the Scoutmaster position.
"Even if we had a big troop, and we only had two or three boys who wanted to go on a campout, he would be there. He wouldn't cancel something because we were only going to have a small group," said Arsenault.
Arsenault's wife, Kelly, said that Williams' greatest quality is his fairness.
"He's always been very fair in the way that he handles situations. He listens to the boys before judging," she said.
Todd Arsenault said that although Williams' legacy is a lot to live up to, he is ready for the challenge.
"It's a big job to fulfill but, hopefully, I can do as good a job as he did, follow in his footsteps and be there for everybody when the time comes," he said.
Follow Chelsea Feinstein at Twitter.com/CEFeinstein.