“It was not unusual for us to gather at the church, put our rucksacks on our backs and hike 12 miles across upper Manhattan, cross the George Washington Bridge and then follow the trail to Alpine Scout Camp,” Block says with a chuckle. He remembers it like it happened last week, not back in the 1960s.
Post members “took extreme pride” in being selected as the service unit at the semiannual Bronx District 2 Camporee or Trekoree, Block says. “We would get upset if another post was selected, because we knew we were the best there was.” Later, as the Explorers vice chairman at the Greater New York Council, he met Sir Edmund Hillary, one of the first men to climb Mount Everest, and famed broadcaster Lowell Thomas.
Alas, the good times came to an end, and the boys in the post went their separate ways. But Block never forgot his Explorer buddies, and a few years ago, while living in Florida, he hatched a plan for a reunion.
Block started by placing a personal ad in a community newspaper that served the Bronx. Eventually he received an email from the sister of a post member who also lived in Florida. “We found each other in dribs and drabs,” Block says. “Email and the Internet were really vital. Some of the guys had stayed in touch with each other. A couple had even been in Vietnam together.”
Finally, in February 2014, most of the surviving boys from the post and their spouses met in Orlando. Now in their late 60s and 70s, they enjoyed sharing stories and memorabilia, including the original post flag. And some of their old uniforms still fit! Above all, Block says, they agreed on the great benefits they had derived from Scouting.
“We all realized how important Scouting was to our lives, not just as Explorers but throughout our lives. Scouting changed all of us. It made us better human beings.”