Dozens of scouts in Boy Scout Troop 145 have benefited from the leadership of Scoutmaster Todd Shaw. After eight years, he has made the decision to retire from the position and allow someone else to mentor the next group of young men who will rise up through the program at Oakland Presbyterian Church.
Shaw’s final “scoutmaster minute” — in which he shares about 60 seconds of wisdom at the end of the troop meeting — is Jan. 2. He has been working on his parting words
Shaw is the troop’s second scoutmaster since its inception in 2005. He replaced Tom Davis after he died in 2015. Shaw was familiar with the troop after joining with his grandson, Joey Rosenbaum, and had been serving as a committee chairman.
Shaw said he and his wife, Betsy VanderLey, now are empty-nesters and he wants to spend more time with her, maybe take a few trips together. Since he became scoutmaster, Shaw has used his vacation time for winter and summer scout camps and VanderLey has taken separate vacations.
“I also looked at the amount of adults that were active, and I thought it’s a good time,” Shaw said. “There’s a lot of great men that can step up right now.”
The new scoutmaster will be Justin Farr, who has been involved in the troop for about seven years and whose son, Caleb, recently obtained his Eagle scout rank.
Shaw said he appreciates the values taught in scouting. He grew up in a small town with a population of 50, and boy scouts was not an option. But he still learned many of the skills taught in scouting.
“We camped a lot, and we naturally learned things from our dads that scouts teach,” he said.
Shaw’s first involvement with scouting came in the 1990s when his sons joined Troop 210 in Winter Garden. When they lost interest in scouts, Shaw thought he was done. Until his grandson came along, and Shaw found himself in the middle of troop activities and campouts once again in Oakland.
This time, the passion stuck, and Rosenbaum and Shaw enjoyed the scout’s rise through the ranks to Eagle and all the lessons that were taught along the way.
“A lot of my boys learned how to safely build a campfire and set up tents and use an ax and a saw, and we teach them how to safely use a bow and arrow and use shotgun,” Shaw said. “We teach them how to row and steer a canoe.
“I’ve watched (Joey) and the boys who came up with him and how they grew up to be great young men — from boys to outstanding young men,” Shaw said. “I thought, when Mr. Davis passed away, this couldn’t let the troop evaporate into nothing.”
So he became the troop’s second scoutmaster.
Shaw said he didn’t create anything new when he took over as troop leader. He just continued the legacy of Davis and David Sharpe, the former assistant scoutmaster who died during the pandemic.
“I watched in amazement how he worked with the boys,” Shaw said. “At the point (Sharpe) took them, they were young men, and he guided them. And I just followed in their footsteps. I saw that the boys had fun, the boys enjoyed the troop.
“I even remember a boy when Tom was scoutmaster,” he said. “We were on a campout, and there was a new boy who came to the troop. After the campout, he came up to Mr. Davis, and he said, ‘I never had so much fun on a campout.’”
That is why Shaw was committed as scout leader.
He estimates he has been instrumental in mentoring close to 30 scouts on their rigorous path to the rank of Eagle. Many of the projects have been at the Oakland Nature Preserve, and the boys have constructed benches, picnic tables and even a period-style well from stone and wood.
Eagle candidates also have created mileage markers at Tucker Ranch, built circular benches around trees, and poured sidewalks and helped out at the preschool at Oakland Presbyterian. A flagpole and several memorials for Oakland’s military personnel are located at Speer Park as part of another scout’s project.
Shaw’s grandson’s project was to build an outdoor xylophone in the preschool playground.
Rosenbaum is 25 and has landed a great job, Shaw said.
“I know that the Eagle rank helped him on his job resume, because they needed someone who could pass an FBI security clearance,” he said.
Although Shaw won’t be scoutmaster after the first of the year, he will continue the tradition of offering the troop the use of his shop and any of his tools.
“I wanted them to be successful in life, even if they didn’t earn the rank of Eagle,” he said. “They work hard and still live by that scout oath and scout law, and they do something with their life. Not every boy is going to earn Eagle, but I think just being in the program and what they’ve learned, they can still apply that to their life.”
Community Editor Amy Quesinberry was born at the old West Orange Memorial Hospital and raised in Winter Garden. Aside from earning her journalism degree from the University of Georgia, she hasn’t strayed too far from her hometown and her three-mile bubble. She grew up reading The Winter Garden Times and knew in the eighth grade she wanted to write for her community newspaper. She has been part of the writing and editing team since 1990.