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Scouts learn leadership from West Point cadets

PEPPERELL — Members of Pepperell Boy Scout Troop 26 received a first-hand lesson in leadership when they traveled to West Point, N.Y., for an event that brought together Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts from across the country for a weekend of camping and team-building exercises.

More than 6,000 Scouts from 200 troops descended on West Point from May 2-4 for the annual Cadet Scoutmasters’ Council Camporee. Twenty-two of the troop’s 35 members, along with 10 parents and troop volunteers, made the trip.

“It’s a great opportunity for the boys to see some strong leadership coming from the cadets,” said Troop 26 Scoutmaster Doug Adams. “It’s a great role model opportunity and there’s a lot of team activities around leadership skills and the military.”

The program is entirely run by West Point cadets, many of whom are former Scouts themselves, Adams said.

The troop began the weekend with a 5-mile hike into the campsite with all of their gear. Senior patrol leader T.J. Fetterolf, a sophomore at Groton-Dunstable Regional High School, said the hike provided the troop with the opportunity to see what its newest inductees were capable of. Of the 14 new boys who joined the troop in March, 11 went on the trip.

“We just got some new boys and they didn’t know what to expect. It really tested their physical abilities and we got to see what their limits were,” Fetterolf said.

Fetterolf also went on the trip when the troop was invited three years ago. If troops do not have a West Point cadet from their town to act as a sponsor, which Pepperell did not, they have to apply to be chosen through a lottery system.

On both trips, he said, he learned a lot about himself, as well as his fellow Scouts.

“I learned a lot of skills relating to leadership and how to lead your boys to success, which I enjoyed a lot. There was a lot of character-building,” Fetterolf said.

He said this trip, and Scouting in general, have helped him to become more of a leader in the community and at his school.

“Leadership is big if you want to be a success in the military or anything that requires you to lead people. Boy Scouts is big for developing that,” Fetterolf said.

Other activities throughout the weekend included hiking, rafting and learning about the military from the West Point cadets.

Adams said that he was very pleased the Scouts had the opportunity to take the trip and to challenge themselves, particularly with the hike in to the campground.

“A lot of teamwork came out of it and a lot of camaraderie building and the troop is a stronger troop for it,” Adams said.