A Very Brief History of BSA Troop 216 (last updated January 2018)


Timeline

Scouting came to the St. Michael’s parish in February, 1978 when the Knights of Columbus Council #6650 were approached to charter a new Boy Scout unit for the parish.   The troop would be part of the Occoneechee Council’s Dan Beard district, which covered southwestern Wake County.   After receiving approval to charter the new troop, the Knights approached Mr. Dave Duch, a St. Michael’s parishioner and Assistant Scoutmaster in Troop 210 (based at the White Plains United Methodist Church in Cary) to become the Scoutmaster.   At first, Mr. Duch was very reluctant to accept – starting a new scouting unit is not a small or easy endeavor.  However, after repeated requests, Mr. Duch finally accepted and Troop 216 was born.   
 
Mr. Duch started with a single Assistant Scoutmaster, Mr. Van Davis, and about 20 Scouts, one of which had already earned the Eagle Scout rank with a troop from Columbus Georgia (Guy Sodano, who would eventually become the Cubmaster of St. Michael’s Cub Scout Pack 216 in the early 2000’s).  Mr. Duch served as Scoutmaster from 1978 until 1983.  During this time, the troop grew to about 45 Scouts.
 
In mid-1983, Mr. Bob Ferris took the Scoutmaster’s reins from Mr. Duch who stayed involved as an Assistant Scoutmaster (ASM) until the mid-1990’s.  Mr. Ferris was Scoutmaster when the troop produced its first homegrown Eagle Scout – Michael Davis (the son of the troop’s very first ASM, Van Davis).  The second T216 Eagle Scout, Greg Rasor, completed his trail to Eagle just before Mr. Ferris stepped down in mid-1986.   Mr. Ferris left Cary in the early 1990s to become a priest after the unexpected death of his wife in 1991.  He went on to become Father Bob Ferris, the pastor of St. Aloysius Catholic Church in Hickory, NC.  
 
In mid-1986, Mr. John Slocumb became Troop 216’s third Scoutmaster.   Under his leadership, six more Scouts earned the Eagle rank, the first of these being his son Bill.   After stepping down in 1990, Mr. Slocumb still served as an ASM for several years.  He was also very involved with the Dan Beard district, eventually serving as the District Committee Chairman.  He finally left scouting in the early 2000’s, just before the Dan Beard district was split into the Crosswinds and Hemlock districts (Troop 216 was part of the Crosswinds district).
 
The fourth Troop 216 Scoutmaster was Mr. Phil Leslie, the father of Eagle Scout Christopher Leslie.  Mr. Leslie’s tenure was fairly short (about one year).  During this time, however, the troop added another Eagle Scout to its growing list of Eagles.
 
When Mr. Leslie stepped down in 1991, Mr. Robert Wendt took over the troop’s top leadership spot.  During Mr. Wendt’s 2 year tenure, three more Troop 216 Scouts earned the Eagle rank with the troop consistently generating between 1 and 3 Eagles each year. 
 
In mid-1993, Mr. Wendt handed the troop over to Mr. Carl Bailey.  At this point, there were around 70 Scouts in the troop and their Eagle Scout roll call had 13 members.   For the next 6 years under Mr. Bailey’s leadership and strong camping and backpacking-focused program, the troop reached its largest size ever - over 100 Scouts - and doubled its number of Eagle Scouts, adding 14 more to the roll call, the last of these being his son David.    
 
According to Mr. Bailey and troop committee records, by the end of his tenure, the size of the troop was becoming problematic since it’s difficult to find camping accommodations for so many Scouts (on average, 50-60 Scouts would attend the monthly outings).  To alleviate the “size” issue, Mr. Bailey developed a plan in 1998 to split the troop in two in order to create a second St. Michael’s Boy Scout troop and get the size of Troop 216 back down to a manageable size.   By February, 1999 the Troop 216 Committee, with cooperation from the Occoneechee Council and the Crosswinds District carried out Mr. Bailey’s plan and started Troop 212, which was also chartered by the Knights of Columbus Council #6650 and met at St. Michael’s.  The new troop was seeded with adult leaders (the original “Key 3” for Troop 212 were:   Scoutmaster John Barbara, Committee Chair Vickie Wong and Chartered Organization Representative Tony Gemma.), experienced Scouts and some funding from Troop 216.  Pack 216 also provided some funds and brand new Boy Scouts.  The split left Troop 216 with about 70 Scouts, providing 25 for the newly formed Troop 212. 
 
In mid-1999, Mr. Bailey passed his Scoutmaster responsibilities over to Mr. Mike Rasp. Despite splitting in two, Troop 216 continued to flourish under Mr. Rasp’s leadership, with 15 new Eagle Scouts being added to the roll call, one of those being his son Matthew.  In particular, 2003 was a big year for Eagles - 8 Scouts earned the rank that year, with 4 of them earning it on the same day (May 14, 2003)!    At the end of 2003, Mr. Rasp stepped down as Scoutmaster.  
 
Taking the baton from Mr. Rasp was Mr. David Walters, a long-time ASM and father of two Eagle Scouts, Andrew and Nathan. In 2004, the troop had 75 registered Scouts and saw 6 more become Eagle.

The troop tragically lost one of its own in April 2004.  Relatively new Eagle Scout, Kassel Smit was killed in an automobile accident at age 16.  His entire family had been very involved in the troop with his older brother Kiehl the troop’s 21st Eagle, his mother serving on the troop committee and his father the long-time Committee Chair.  The troop served as the color guard at the subsequent annual “Kassel Smit: Make a Difference” event held in Cary on Kassel’s birthday, June 16th.

2004 was also the year when the Troop acquired a trailer, thanks to the efforts of then-committee member Bob De Contreras.   The trailer was obtained through donations from the community and troop families and it greatly simplified the storage and transportation of troop camping equipment.

Mr. Walters stepped down as Scoutmaster in mid-2005. 

Taking the reins from Mr. Walters was Mr.Bob De Contreras who had served as an ASM in addition to his committee duties.  “Mr. D,” as he was known to the Scouts, brought a focus on high adventure activities that would keep older boys interested in Scouting even after they earned their Eagle rank.  By the time Mr. D stepped down as Scoutmaster in February, 2009, the troop had produced 68 Eagle Scouts including his son, Brian.  Most of those who earned the rank under Mr. D’s tenure stayed with the troop until their 18th birthdays.  Even after stepping down, he served as an Assistant Scoutmaster and was involved with the Crosswinds District Eagle board of review.

Mr. Chuck Gay took over Scoutmaster duties early in 2009. A previous ASM and committee member, he carried on the long tradition of dedication to the ideals of Scouting and service. His two sons, Alex and Sam would become Eagle Scouts and play important roles in the “boy leadership” of the troop. Under his leadership, Mr Gay saw the troop’s membership hold steady at around 75 Scouts.  He furthermore oversaw efforts to provide more guidance and support to Scouts seeking the Eagle rank.  As a result of his vision, the troop saw one of it’s largest annual Class of Eagles in 2013 with 10 Scouts reaching that rank.

The troop celebrated its 35th anniversary at its February 2013 Court of Honor.  As part of a special presentation, 8 of the former 10 Scoutmasters were present and shared their memories and thoughts about their time with the troop.  The memorable occasion brought the troop’s rich history into perspective for all in attendance.

While Mr. Gay stepped down as Scoutmaster at the end of 2013 he continued his involvement in the troop as Chartered Organization Representative and the Chapter Roundtable.

Mr. Brian Brezina became the troop’s 11th Scoutmaster in 2014.  Known to the boys as “Mr. B.” he continued in the proud tradition of the troop leading young men towards their potential while enjoying the monthly activities.  His wife Danielle served on the troop Committee as Merit badge Coordinator and lead when the troop decided to engage in selling popcorn.  Their son’s Tyler (the troop’s 95th Eagle Scout) and Austin would play integral roles in the troop’s boy leadership as well as the Order of the Arrow. 

Mr. Brezina stepped down in mid-2017 but remained active in Scouts as the troop’s Life to Eagle Coach as well as with Order of the Arrow activities.

Mr. Mike Pitney took the troop’s top spot in August 2017.  An Eagle Scout himself, he brought a passion for instilling leadership skills in the Scouts and a love for adventures in the outdoors.  His wife Kathy served as Membership Chair on the Committee and their son Freddie served in several boy leadership positions.  In January 2018, the troop rechartered 74 Scouts.
 

Activities

Troop 216’s regular calendar runs from late August through early June, and typically includes some form of a summer trek.   The troop meets every Tuesday evening in the St. Michael’s Parish Center or Blue & Gold room except for the third Tuesday of each month, which is when the troop’s Patrol Leaders gather to plan the next month’s meetings and activities in a meeting called the “Patrol Leader’s Council.”  At least one weekend outing is scheduled for each month.  Over the years, the troop has travelled near and far in its quest for adventure.  Some of the destinations and events include:
  • Backpacking, hiking and camping:
  1. Appalachian Trail in NC and TN
  2. Uwharrie National Forest
  3. Mt. Rogers and the Pisgah National Forest
  4. Stone Mountain, NC
  5. King’s Mountain, SC
  6. Medoc Mountain, NC
  7. Cape Hatteras, NC
  8. Raven Rock State Park
  9. Clemmons State Park
  10. Umstead Park
  11. Harris Lake County Park
  12. Falls Lake
  13. Kerr Lake
  14. Camp Lejune, NC
  15. Fort Bragg, NC
  • Water sports and camping
    1. Jordan Lake and Hyco Lake (waterskiing, motor boating)
    2. Haw River, New River and Roanoke River (canoeing)
    3. Florida High Adventure Sea Base (SCUBA diving)
    4. US National Whitewater Center, Charlotte, NC (whitewater rafting)
    5. French Broad and Nantahala rivers (whitewater rafting)
    6. New River, Ripplemead, VA (kayaking)
  • Shooting sports
    1. Durham County Wildlife Club, Morrisville, NC
    2. Camp Durant , Carthage, NC
  • Climbing
    1. Vertical Edge Indoor Climbing Center, Durham NC
    2. Pilot Mountain, NC
    3. Triangle Rock Club, Morrisville, NC
  • Snow Sports
    1. Winterplace, West VA
    2. Sugar Mountain, Banner Elk, NC
  • Cycling
    1. Virginia Creeper Trail
    2. Umstead Park
    3. C&O Canal Trail, VA
  • BSA High Adventure Camps
    1. Philmont Scout Ranch, Cimmaron, NM
    2. Northern Tier Scout Reservation, Ely, MN
    3. Florida Sea Base, Islamorada,FL and Key West, FL
  • BSA National Jamboree
    1. Fort A.P. Hill, VA
    2. Bechtel Summit, West VA
  • Caving
    1. Raccoon Mountain, Chattanooga, TN
    2. Worley’s Cave, Bluff City, TN
  • Historical and other excursions
    1. Washington, DC
    2. Cape Canaveral, FL
    3. US Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD
    4. USS Yorktown at Patriot’s Point, Charleston, SC
  • Annual Summer Camp
    1. Camp Raven Knob, Mt. Airy, NC
    2. Camp Durant, Carthage, NC


    Duty to God

    One of the principles of Scouting is Duty to God, and Troop 216 emphasizes this principle in a number of ways:

    • “Scouts Own Service” programs – services that the Scouts prepare and run on Sunday mornings when camping or on other weekend excursions
    • Annual Scout Sunday observance, typically celebrated at a pre-designated mass at St. Michael’s
    • Participation in the BSA Religious Emblems program, through which Troop 216 Scouts have earned the following emblems according to their faith:
    1. Ad Altare Dei – Catholic emblem focused on the 7 sacraments
    2. Pope Pius XII – Catholic emblem focused on vocations
    3. Ner Tamid – Jewish emblem
    4. God and Church – Protestant emblem

    Service

    Troop 216 Scouts have contributed countless hours of service to St. Michael’s, other Catholic institutions in Wake County and the community at large.  Typical service projects include:
    • bussing tables and staffing the “to go” table at the St. Michael’s Lenten fish fries (with Troop 212)
    • decorating the St. Michael’s campus with luminaries on Christmas Eve,
    • helping with the assembly of Thanksgiving Baskets (with Troop 212 and Pack 216),
    • directing parking at the annual St. Michael’s International Festival.  
    • landscaping work and cleanup at the St. Michael’s rectory house to prepare it for sale (with Troop 212)
    • refinishing the picnic tables on the St. Michael School’s playground

    The main evidence of Scout service to St. Michael’s and the Catholic community, however, is visible through the abundance of Eagle Scout projects over the years.  Here is a partial listing of those projects:
    • Several Eagle Scout projects from both Troop 216 and Troop 212 produced the stations of the cross area between the main campus and the Archangel Center:
    1. The first project created the circular pea gravel pathway
    2. Another project installed the actual stations
    3. Another installed benches in the area
    4. Another built the stairway from the main parking lot down to the stations area
    5. Yet another installed drainage and new shrubbery to control erosion. 
  • Other St. Michael’s Eagle Projects include:
    1. The garbage/recycling receptacle near the soccer fields
    2. The synthetic benches in the playground behind the parish center
    3. The original sun shelters over those playground benches (these have since been replaced)
  • At St. Andrew’s in Apex, a Troop 216 Eagle Scouts installed stone walkways across the grassy area in the parking lot and also built a picnic area
  • At least three Troop 216 Eagles did their projects at  St. Mary Magdalene in Apex
    1. One cleared a large wooded area and installed 125 feet of drainage along a sidewalk to make the area usable
    2. One installed a 100 foot long brick walkway
    3. Another installed rope fencing around the lawn in front of the main building
  • Two portable concession stands were built for Cardinal Gibbons High School
  • At least one project was done at St. Thomas More Academy in Raleigh

  • Of course, Troop 216’s service is not limited to just the Catholic community.   For example, the troop runs an annual Scouting for Food drive through which it has collected and donated almost 10,000 pounds of food to local food pantries (2007-2013)   You’ll often see Troop 216 Scouts participating in flag ceremonies or serving as the color guard for various events around Cary.  And another notable service project was at the grand opening of the West Regional Library in Cary, where Troop 216 Scouts masterfully directed traffic and parking for a few thousand vehicles in the span of about 90 minutes – an event that the Cary police said would have been a “disaster” if it weren’t for the Scouts’ help.   And of course, there are all of those Eagle Scout projects, which can also be found in places like:
    • Weatherstone Elementary School
    • Salem Elementary School
    • Salem Middle School
    • Davis Drive Elementary School
    • Reedy Creek Elementary School
    • Cary High School
    • Holly Springs High School
    • Green Hope High School
    • Northwood High School
    • Black Creek Trail Greenway, Cary
    • West Regional Library, Cary
    • Apex Community Park
    • Lake Crabtree County Park
    • Fred G. Bond Park
    • Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve, Cary
    • Triangle Aquatics Center, Cary
    • Glenaire Retirement Center, Cary
    • Lucy Daniels Center, Cary
    • Hospice of Wake County

    Finally, not all Eagle Scout project involve construction.  Some of Troop 216’s Eagle Scouts have performed service in the form of events such as:
    • A one-hour concert by a 15-piece wind ensemble at the Cary Senior Center
    • Surveying, mapping and documenting the Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church Cemetery in the namesinstone.com web site
    • Two 90-minute youth soccer clinics for over 100 Wake County children
    • Preparing books and stocking the shelves for the brand new West Regional Library in Cary.
    • Presenting a bird clinic and bird house building event for children at the West Regional Library