US boy scouts celebrate 50th visit
A boy scout troop from the US has celebrated its 50th visit to Bermuda — a reward for completing a seven-year scout programme.
The boys from Manchester, Connecticut make up Troop 25, all aged between 17 and 18.
“This is the last hurrah for these guys,” said Paul Maidment, scoutmaster emeritus. “They've been together for seven years. They've camped on the ground for seven years.”
Mr Maidment, born in 1958, visited the island when he was 17 as a member of Troop 25.
Now more than 40 years later, he brought the scouts last month when they were out of school for spring vacation. He's been organising the trip for four decades.
“It's something all of them look forward to, not only when they turn 17, but from the time they enter Troop 25 at age 11,” he said.
Evan Keeran, a member of the troop, said: “The first night you're in the troop you're told the whole idea of the Bermuda trip. You're given a hog penny — the penny that you use here [in Bermuda] — and it's really something everyone looks forward to and it's also something that everyone earns.”
Troop 25 first came to Bermuda in the late 60s, getting to know the island's people and culture. The following year they tried Bahamas but decided unanimously to return to Bermuda because “it's closer, better and more memorable”. They have chosen the island ever since.
Dozens of the scouts have made Bermudian friends along the way, including Colin Anderson who hosted the entire group for dinner at his home.
Andrew Helmin, one of those who visited in April, became enamoured with island life and immediately took to wearing Bermuda shorts, complete with a necktie and blazer.
“I would love to come back,” he said.
“Actually I want to live here because of how much of a paradise it is and because of the people here. I love the culture, I love the identity of Bermuda. It's not lost on us that Troop 25, and many other Bermuda loyalists, cite our people as the reason they keep coming back,” said Glenn Jones, the Bermuda Tourism Authority's director of public and stakeholder relations. “The Bermudian hospitable spirit is part of the story our marketing team tells the world because Bermuda's people is what sets her apart from other destinations.”