Last month Donald Gilbert announced his retirement from Pittsfield’s Boy Scout Troop 20 after more than two decades leading the troop and nearly a lifetime in scouting. These next few lines represent the genuine feelings of gratitude of nearly 30 Eagle Scouts from Troop 20’s past.
In a world filled with adults who don’t demand too much from children or expect them to travel through adolescence with dignity, Mr. Gilbert was the exception. In joining Troop 20 you were no longer merely a child who could be condescended to or ignored. There were expectations and responsibilities laid upon you and you were expected to meet these with maturity and poise.
To be in scouting under Mr. Gilbert meant more than learning how to tie knots, orient a map, or fold a flag. Instead, it was a place where boys could begin to learn how to be men, take responsibility seriously, have dedication to achieving goals, and distinguish between things in life that were truly important and those that were otherwise. In scouting we learned to be men of accountability, duty, and honor.
This was no mere accident. As we advanced toward be coming Eagle Scouts we were given the opportunity to mature and grow into adults able to cope and succeed. In Mr. Gilbert’s Troop 20 we were leaders with responsibility, pressures, and expectations. We were able to travel to other countries, meet people from different cultures, and hone our own identities.
We will always be grateful for the role scouting has played in our lives. Our alumni are now parents with their own children. We are teachers, doctors, academics, journalists, accountants, and members of the military. Some of us remain in the Berkshires and work to keep in touch with Mr. Gilbert and the troop, but many of us have become a diaspora; spread throughout the world and living our lives in the manner which we learned in scouting.
Although he has retired, Don Gilbert’s impact on those who knew him will continue. It will show up in the way we raise our children, how we navigate our lives, how we carry ourselves, and how we treat those around us. While some of us have known each other only as names passed down in stories from older scouts, we all are connected through Troop 20. From campfires filled with chanting and singing to friendships forged to last a lifetime, it was in scouting that we were able to truly become ourselves.
For all that he has done, all the time and support he has given, and for playing such an important role in forging us into the men we have become, we are and will always remain thankful. While not every child can have the opportunity to be blessed with the same mentor we had, Mr. Gilbert’s lasting legacy is that all the world over there are scouts of his who demonstrate his commitment, dedication, and drive in everything they do, and his influence carries ever forward.
Enjoy retirement. You have earned it
MATTHEW M. VRABEL
SCOTT ELDRIDGE II
Other signatories: A.J. Piper, Alan Zawistowski, Andrew Chandler, Ben Latini, Andrew Murphy, Ben Taglieri, Chris Nailos, Dan Leibinger, Derek Supranowicz, Eric Belknap, Frank Bonnevie, Jeff Belair, John Carchedi, John Kuczarski, Joseph Zawistowski, Kevan Nieratka, Kevin Zawistowski, Liam Morrison, Matt Anderson, Matthew Bolus, Mickey Dayton, Michael Carchedi, Mike Chague, Peter Carnevale, Timothy Vrabel, Tom Hamilton, and Tom O’Brien.