This year, Troop 17 in Elmhurst is celebrating its 100-year anniversary. Led by lifelong resident of Elmhurst and Troop Leader Ralph Defalco, 86, he is quite impressed they have lasted this long.
“Leadership is not born, it’s created,” Defalco said.
Defalco began in the Scouts as a youngster and fell in love with it. His parents didn’t think highly of the organization, but that did not bother him, he said.
At the age of 18, he was drafted and served in Japan for a year, but when he returned he eventually became troop leader. He always taught the children to think before they act, and that every decision can impact the future.
“I wanted to give back what they gave me,” Defalco said.
Defalco created friendships that have lasted over 30 years. They went camping often and on many trips to places such as the Adirondacks, Maine and even Disney World before it opened. These getaways were amazing because it allowed boys to be boys, he said.
“They learned how to survive without mom and dad and learned how to be men,” he said.
There are also some famous alumni from Troop 17, including Lawrence Joseph Crockett, who was president of the Torrey Botanical Society, and Supreme Court Justice Anthony Scalea. Defalco described the Boy Scouts as serendipity, small world and innovation, and said he will always treasure the experiences he had with the group.
Troop 17 will commemorate their 100 years at a celebration at Queens Botanical Gardens on Saturday, Aug.9. Defalco, who plans to retire that day, is hard at work planning the event and so far has invited 938 people.
“I’m more than looking forward to it, I’m living for it,” he said.