January 18, 1999

 

Boy Scout ceremony celebrates the land

By Jennifer Klinger

SPECIAL TO THE NEWS-TIMES

SOUTHBURY - It was dark and cold. Standing in the middle of the snow-covered woods was a group of young men, some holding lit torches.

Their leader spoke. "Native Americans loved this valley because it is rich with fish and game. They developed ingenious ways to hunt and gather. Among these was the bow and arrow. Behold the arrow of light into the north sky." Another member of the group lit an arrow on a torch and shot it into the night sky.

What sort of bizarre activity was going on in the woods of Southbury on Saturday night? Members of the Cub Scout troop "Dragon Patrol Webelos" were celebrating their graduation into the ranks of Boy Scouts.

"The concept was to take the original Cub Scout ceremony and tie it into the land and the native Americans that lived in this area," said Woody Woodside, the troop's Cubmaster.

The evening began when the parents of the seven troop members ushered their children into cars without telling them where they were going. The boys were dropped off at the Lake Lillinonah boat launch in Southbury at 6 o'clock and proceeded on a half-hour hike through the woods to the Travis Brook Bridge.

"It was cool, but most people tripped," said 11-year-old Brendon Dwyer of the hike.

The fire-lit arrow that was launched after the boys reached the bridge symbolized the "arrow of light," one of the badges the Scouts had to earn as Webelos.

After the firing of the arrow each Scout was called forward individually. The Scout would then fall backwards a short distance from the bridge into the arms of his new Scout leader and his parents.

A barbecue followed the ceremony.

Webelos is the oldest pack in Southbury, established 54 years ago. Its leaders say it is the only pack in America to celebrate graduating into the Boy Scouts in such a unique way.

 

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