ROXBURY, NJ – For 32 years, boys in Landing had a close-to-home path to becoming Boy Scouts. Then, in 2012, that path disappeared.
There were a number of reasons Cub Scout Pack 188 - formed in 1975 and vibrant with activity for many years - dissolved four years ago, say Scout leaders. On the list is a possible change of demographics: Landing’s families are growing up and not enough new families are moving in, suggested Boy Scout Troop 188 Scoutmaster Michael Mangano of Landing.
“We moved into the community and we had children,” he said. “We would have to move out so a younger family could move in. We are not moving out, so the population change is definitely part of it.”
Nevertheless, Mangano and other Scout leaders are taking a shot at resurrecting Cub Scout Pack 188. They’re having a “Cub Scout Adventure Night” on May 4 at Nixon Elementary School and they’re hoping Landing parents with boys in kindergarten through fourth grade (not currently in Scouting) will stop by between 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Boys who show up will get to build and launch stomp rockets, race Pinewood Derby cars and learn about the fun things they can do as Cub Scouts, said the organizers.
“I was part of that Pack,” said Mangano. “My son went through Cub Scouts with that Pack and we are trying to revive it.”
The rise of organized youth sports took a toll on Cub Scout enrollment. Online gaming did too, said Boy Scouts of America Patriot’s Path Council Black River District Executive Marc Maratea.
“Fewer and fewer parents were involved,” he said. “We couldn’t get boys and the volunteers needed to run it. It just disbanded or dissipated.The Boy Scout troop in Landing (Troop 188) still exists and it’s a fairly strong troop, although they definitely feel they could be bigger or stronger in terms the number of boys ... Without the Cub Scout pack, the Boy Scout Troop isn’t going to survive as well because there will be no boys to feed it.”
Maratea said it will take at least seven boys, preferably 10 or more, to successfully bring Cub Scout Troop 188 back to life. “We are trying to get word out to as many families as possible in the Landing area about this recruitment,” he said.
Mangano stressed that boys need not give up sports to become Cub Scouts. “A lot of people think their boys can’t do Cub Scouts and do sports,” he said. “That’s not true. You can do both. We say, ‘Come after your baseball or come after your soccer, even if you’re in your uniform.’”