Fanfare and thanks as longtime Boy Scout leader steps down

By Ilana Mackin | May 19, 2017
Photo by: Ilana Mackin Firefighter Dan Ferreira, Captain Jeff Eldridge, Fire Chief Scott Weigel, retired Scoutmaster Michael Blanchard and newly appointed Scoutmaster Kevin Thompson, with the flag flown in Blanchard's honor.

Rochester — Spring is the season for new beginnings and for Rochester Boy Scout Troop 31, that meant the passing of the torch.

Longtime Scoutmaster Michael Blanchard stepped down from his duties in April, and handed the reigns over to new Scoutmaster, Kevin Thompson.

Formal ceremonies were held at the Rochester Grange Hall to honor and celebrate the 'passing of the torch'. In a room filled with Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, parents, family and friends, Troop Committee Chairman Victor Nordahl led the evening's proceedings, thanking Scoutmaster Blanchard for his many years of service.

“Scoutmaster Blanchard has done a tremendous job over the years. We truly appreciate everything he has done for all the boys, Troop 31 and the youth of our community. We are really going to miss him,” said Nordahl.

Scoutmaster Blanchard was a Boy Scout himself and was thrilled to begin volunteering for the Boy Scouts of America when his son Corbin joined the Rochester Cub Scouts. Mr. Blanchard took on the roll as Cubmaster for Rochester Pack 30 in 2003. As his son advanced through the ranks, he too transitioned into the roll of Scoutmaster for Rochester Boy Scout Troop 31 in 2009.

In celebration of the accomplishments of Blanchard's status as a Boy Scout, Leader and Scoutmaster, Troop 31 Assistant Scoutmaster Sarah Eby and Troop Chaplain Dave Andrews read speeches, poems and prayers. The Boy Scouts lit candles that represent the levels of scouting from Cub Scout to Eagle Scout, for which Scoutmaster Blanchard helped guide many boys along that journey over the years.

The Rochester Fire Fighters Association, represented by Fire Chief Scott Weigel, Captain Jeff Eldridge and Firefighter, Dan Ferreira, presented Scoutmaster Blanchard with a flag that was flown over the fire station in his honor.

When asked to recall some of his favorite moments of being a Scoutmaster he said, “One of my happiest moments is certainly receiving the Eagle Mentor pins from my first Eagle Scout Jadon, and then for my very own son, Corbin.”

Special recognition, flowers, small gifts and thanks were also presented to Mrs. Nina Schneider, Troop 31's retiring treasurer, for her many years of volunteer service; Mrs. Donna Blanchard for her many years of support and volunteer services to her husband and Troop 31; and Scoutmaster Blanchard's children, Audrey and Corbin, for their support to their family, troops and for putting up with their dad's silly antics. ("And mastering the art of giving it back," said Blanchard.)

The ceremony was a surprise for Blanchard, who had expected a quiet final meeting. “I can't thank my leaders and scouts enough for going through all that effort, inviting all those people, and for giving me the plaques, the cigars, and my special cake!" Blanchard noted.

As his last act as Scoutmaster, Blanchard welcomed and handed the reigns over to Troop 31's new Scoutmaster, Kevin Thompson, by presenting him with the Scoutmaster Patch and a hearty congratulatory handshake.

The Scoutmaster Transition Ceremony was followed by a dessert and punch social, showcasing a delicious and detailed cake with a fondant sculpture of Scoutmaster Blanchard's face, handmade by Assistant Scoutmaster Eby.

Assistant Scoutmaster Sarah Eby cuts the cake that she handmade for the celebration, featuring a fondant sculpture of Blanchard's face. (Photo by: Ilana Mackin)
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