MONTVILLE, NJ – Towaco residents Alex Benno and Jack Krase were among the 26 honorees at the recent Boy Scouts Patriots’ Path Council Youth Executive Committee “Youth Leadership Brunch,” held Feb. 26 at Perona Farms restaurant. Both teens are seniors at Montville Township High School.

Benno, who is a Montville Township Police Explorer, was named the “Lt. Joseph Franklin Law Enforcement Explorer of the Year,” and Krase was named “Outstanding Camp Wheeler Staff Member of the Year.”

Many are familiar with the traditional “Boy Scout,” but there are several sub-organizations under the umbrella of that organization.

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“Youth Executive Committee is a program within the Patriots’ Path Council that consists of male and female representatives, ages 14-20, from the Order of the Arrow, Venturing, Exploring, Sea Scouts, National Youth Leadership Training staff, and the Youth Leadership Award recipients,” said Shane Jones, who is president of the committee. “We plan and sponsor different events for the council.”

Venturing is a club for males and females aged 14-21, and many Venturing groups are based on a “theme” such as service, high adventure, or sports. Sea Scouts is a specialized Venturing club that focuses on boating skills. Exploring is a program designed to help young adults experience careers such as fire fighting, legal fields and engineering.

The sixth annual Youth Leadership Brunch honored leaders from each of these clubs, plus the camp staff awards. Keynote speaker Rob Rodriguez, who is an Eagle Scout and the park superintendent of Liberty State Park, spoke about leadership.

Alex Benno

Benno joined Montville Township Police Explorer Post 805 when he was 14. He has been interested in law enforcement since he was very young. Currently an Explorer Lieutenant in the post, he participates in post activities such as police technique training.

“The post trains in the same manner that police officers in the academy do,” Benno said. “Performing traffic stops, executing search warrants, and securing a crime scene are all topics we cover at meetings. As a senior post member, I help train the younger members.”

Officers from the Montville Township Police Department instruct the members. The post has also visited the FBI Newark Field Office and the New York City Police Academy.

Exploring is also about community service, and the members of the post help out at Relay for Life, Towacofest, the San Gennaro Festival, and the township’s Fourth of July festivities. Every other year, the post travels to a national competition.

“Lt. Joseph Franklin of the Roxbury, NJ Police Department was a large driving force behind our Exploring program about 15 years ago,” Bill SanFilippo, District Executive for Venturing, Exploring and STEM said at the brunch. “He ran the Morris County Junior Police Academy for Explorers and acted as liaison between all the county Exploring posts and the Boy Scout council.

“After some discussions with Mark Spaldo, our Director of Field Service, who worked with Joe during his tenure with the Exploring program, we thought it would be great to name an award after him and to recognize some youth leaders who are following in his path thanks to his dedication to the program.

“This is our first year to have the Franklin Exploring award, for a youth member who has gone above and beyond. Alex’s advisor, Officer Dominick Danzi, says he is a highly motivated, deeply devoted, responsible young man, with great moral values, and that’s exactly what Lt. Joe Franklin would want to hear if he were here today,” SanFilippo said.

Jack Krase

Jack Krase is an Eagle Scout who worked at Camp Wheeler in Stanhope, NJ for three summers. Wheeler is a Cub Scout camp, and Krase worked with boys ages 7-11. The “Outstanding Camp Staff Member of the Year Award” is bestowed to staff who “went above and beyond” their duties, according to Scouting administrators. Krase served as a Den Chief and lifeguard at the camp.

George Pantos, Year-round Commissioner of Camp Somers, who presented Krase with the award for the Camp Wheeler staff, said they had written, “Jack is some of the most popular staff at Wheeler. He gives of himself every day and in every possible way. He is a role model in many ways. He has gotten tremendous feedback from the parents he has worked with over the course of the summer.”

“He is so mature for his age,” Dan Grzywacz, who is the Camp Wheeler Program Director, told TAPinto Montville. “He connects immediately with the kids and he’s able to motivate them. He’s really disciplined and reliable – he never stops working.”

Krase is a member of the Order of the Arrow, which is the Boy Scout honor society, and he participated in the National Youth Leadership Training program. He was an assistant patrol leader for Montville Township’s Boy Scout Troop 74. While at MTHS, he was the captain of the varsity track team. He will be attending Lafayette College in the fall.

Montville Township has a Venturing crew. For more information, contact Bob Davidson at Venturing.

Montville Township Police Explorers is open to males and females ages 14-21 who are interested in law enforcement careers. For more information, contact Officer Dominick Danzi at the Montville Township Police Department, 973-257-4300.