History of Scouting in Westford

Origins of Scouting

The origins of scouting date back to 1907 when Lord Robert Baden-Powell founded the scouting movement in England.

In 1909, Chicago publisher, William Dickson Boyce, was visiting London when he got lost on a foggy street. He was helped by an unknown scout who guided him to his destination. When offered a tip from Boyce the scout refused, saying he was a Boy Scout and was merely doing his good turn daily. This experience inspired Boyce and when he returned to America, he helped establish the Boy Scouts of America in 1910.

Greater Lowell Council

Less than a year after the Boy Scouts of America was founded, the Lowell Council was founded by James “Uncle Jim” Kibert. It is one of the earliest BSA councils. The first troop they incorporated was North Chelmsford Troop 1 from 1911-1981. It wasn’t until a few years later that the first troop in Westford was founded.

The Lowell Council was chartered as a first class council in 1916. At the time, the council oversaw 24 troops in the greater Lowell area

There was a lapse in charter from 1918 to 1924. There are no records from this time period.

The Lowell Council was reorganized and renamed the Greater Lowell Council in 1922. The name was meant to reflect its involvement in the greater Lowell area. They used this name for the next 78 years.

In 1937, the Greater Lowell Council opened Camp Wah-Tut-Ca, which was the main summer camp for most Westford troops for decades. The camp was shut down and sold due to a lack of funding in 2020.

The Greater Lowell Council became the number one council in the entire Northeast in 1980.

The Greater Lowell Council was merged into the Yankee Clipper Council in 2000.

The Yankee Clipper Council was merged again with the Boston Minutemen Council in 2015 to form the Spirit of Adventure Council, which is the current council for all Westford troops.

Troop 1-W

It is difficult to determine the exact dates of when the first troop in Westford was established.  The Westford Wardsman (1906-1916) states that in 1911, Westford Academy Principal Dexter Coggshall organized a group a boys that they called “Boy Scouts”.  At the start, there were 16 boys in total separated into two “divisions” or “patrols”.  One patrol was led by Leon Hildreth and the second was led by Edward Blodgett. The boys kept busy playing field games and even competed against Westford Academy.  Service to the community was evident early on with the Boys Scouts helping on in the Memorial Day and Fourth of July celebrations in 1912.

1912 was the year when Troop 1-W was officially chartered under the Lowell Council. That year, scouting really took off in Westford under the direction of Scoutmaster William C. Roudenbush and assistant scoutmaster Alfred Tuttle. Roudenbush and Tuttle changed the purpose of the meetings and started to teach the boys the principles of Scouting.

Troop 1-W was dissolved sometime before 1935, as there is no mention of it past that date. It is safe to assume that Troop 1-W was divided into other troops.

Troop 159

Troop 159 was founded in 1935. It got its numbers from its original charter; American Legion Post #159. The American Legion Posts were big supporters of the BSA movement. However, after the Korean War they began to drop Boy Scout troops to focus their efforts in supporting veterans. Troop 159 was also dropped from their original charter, but they were picked back up by the First Parish Church in 1953. As of 2022, Troop 159 is the largest and oldest troop in Westford.

Troop 95

Troop 95 was founded in the late 1960s. There is no evidence that points to it coming from Troop 1-W or Troop 159, so it is most likely a troop that form all on its own. It was originally chartered by the Westford Jaycee’s, which was a non-profit that was dissolved in 1984.

Troop 195

Troop 195 was founded in 1995, under the leadership of Scoutmaster Walter House. The troop was founded when the council believed Troop 159 was too large and so they divided it in half and formed a new troop. Troop 195 was originally chartered by St. Catherine’s of Alexandria until 2020 (Blessed Trinity as of September 2021). The troop is currently self-chartered.

Troop 591

Troop 591 was founded in 2002, under the leadership of Scoutmaster Mark Edwards. He and the Committee Chair of 195, Glen Valante, left to form their own troop due to disputes with the parents and committee members. The troop was dissolved in 2018 due to a lack of involvement and the remaining scouts returned to Troop 195.

Troop 437

Troop 437 was founded in 2006, under the leadership of Scoutmaster Mark Edwards. He had more disagreements with Glen Valante and left to form his own troop with a few other adult leaders from Troop 195. Troop 437 is chartered by American Legion Post 437. Edwards believed he would receive half the supplies from Troop 195 but he was denied; the Troop was formed with no gear. To pay for the new gear, Troop 437 has an annual bike sale on the Town Common.

In 2019, the Troop was renumbered to 437-06 to differentiate itself from its sister troop founded the same year.

Girl Scout Troops in Westford

In 2019, Boy Scouts of America allowed girls to join and renamed themselves Scouts BSA. In the same year, two girl-lead Westford Troops were formed.

Troop 919 was founded by the Committee of Troop 195 (chartered by St. Catherine’s Church – now Blessed Trinity Parish) to serve young women who sought to join Scouting. There were 13 Scouts at its founding.

The Troop’s number was chosen to reflect two important events in American women’s history – as the founding of this troop was also. The Troop number is a combination of “9” – Title 9 which mandated equal opportunity to girls in sports at school and “19” – the 19th Amendment of the US Constitution (which allowed women to vote) and the year the troop was founded.

The neckerchief features the colors and images reflective of American women’s suffrage – gold, purple and white with the sunflower and sash.

Troop 437-19 was founded by the Committee of Troop 437. The number represents the year it was founded, and they use the same neckerchief as 437-06

Other Troops in Westford

There have been various other troops in Westford throughout the years, but none of them are still active today. Very little information is available.

Troop 71 was created in Westford in the Forge Village-Graniteville area in 1971.  George Cornuet was the Scoutmaster.  Sponsored by St. Catherine’s Church.

Troop 19 – Westford

Troop 951 – Forge Village

Troop 1 – Nabnasset

Troop 54 – Graniteville

Troop 46 – Graniteville

Troop 32 – Forge Village

Troop 31 – Westford

Troop 73 – Nabnasset