The History of Troop 240

The Beginning
Our long, outstanding history has roots in the first weeks of the American Scouting movement in 1910, when our predecessor, Troop 2, was formed along with the first units of the Boy Scouts of America. The troop was organized by two members of Riverdale Presbyterian Church, William Barbour and Dr. Bayard Dodge, who also established the Henry Street Troop that is usually considered the first in NYC. This was the beginning of a long association between the troop and the Dodge family. The scouts often swam off the Dodge’s pier on the Hudson, and Cleveland Dodge is said to have taken them for frequent rides on his yacht.

Mr. Barbour served as the first Scoutmaster, and the troop flourished with 10 to 20 Scouts from 1910 until 1917, when the U.S. entered World War I. Meetings were first held in a barn on 252nd Street, then at the Riverdale Library Association and Riverdale Presbyterian Church. Hiking and camping trips in the new Palisades Interstate Park were a 5-cent ferry ride across the Hudson from Yonkers. Scouts from the troop went to the original Madison Square Garden in 1910 to hear Lord Baden-Powell himself speak about the Scouting movement. But by 1917, the original scouts had aged out and left for college or the military, and with the demands of the war, Troop 2 temporarily disbanded. 

The Official Charter
In 1920, William Barbour recruited Bradford Boardman to be the new Scoutmaster and restarted the troop. It was chartered by Scout Executive William Stump and given the new number 240. The troop met at the old Neighborhood House (formerly Jumbo’s Tavern) located on Riverdale Avenue and 254th Street. It was sponsored by a “group of concerned citizens” from the Riverdale Neighborhood and Library Association, Riverdale Presbyterian Church, and the community.

By 1923, this new troop was also fading as older boys went off to college or to work. But a new Scoutmaster, Gilbert Harris, recharged the unit with renewed enthusiasm. The troop continued successfully through the ’20s and depression ’30s. Mr. Harris led frequent day and overnight hikes with instruction and testing in outdoor requirements such as fire-building, cooking, and tracking. New patrols were formed, rank advancement progressed, and the troop participated in Bronx Council activities. Several boys attended Camp Ranachqua at Ten Mile River and earned membership in the Order of the Arrow. In 1929, Troop 240 had its first three Eagle Scouts.

A Solid Success
During World War II, Scouting in the Northwest Bronx was in danger of dying out as many adult leaders got involved in the war. To insure survival of the troop, Pastor Duff of Riverdale Presbyterian Church and Father Barry of Christ Church Riverdale impressed upon the men’s clubs of their churches the importance of the Scouting movement. Their plea was successful. Riverdale Presbyterian Church became the sole sponsor of Troop 240, and Christ Church Riverdale sponsored a spinoff troop. Leon Bischoff took over as Scoutmaster in 1943 and began the solid program and success that is the hallmark of Troop 240 to this day.

From the late ’40s to early ’50s, Win Moles served as Scoutmaster. He received the Silver Beaver Award in 1957 and was the troop’s long-time institutional representative. For Troop 240 and Scouting in general, the late ’50s through the ’60s were times of great growth. The troop routinely had over 60 Scouts and provided many staff members to Ten Mile River Scout Camp. The church also sponsored Explorer Post 240, and Cub Scout Packs 240 and 340. Outstanding Scoutmasters of this era were David Jones, who was also the church sexton, and Jack Tobin, who was an Eagle Scout, a troop leader for over a decade and a half, Chief of Ranachqua Lodge 
(1959-60), and a recipient of theSilver Beaver (1969). 

By the late ’60s, Troop 240 had 26 Eagle Scouts. In 1960, Jay Schnapp was inducted into Troop 240 from Cub Scout Pack 240. He went on to become an Eagle Scout, Chief of Ranachqua Lodge (1968-69) and Scoutmaster in the early ’70s. He won the OA National Distinguished Service Award. Jay is a major fund-raiser for the Ranachqua Foundation, received the Silver Beaver in 1977, and serves on national level Scouting committees.

A new era began when another Silver Beaver recipient, Fred Jarecki, took the reins as Scoutmaster in 1975. He held the post for 16 years, the longest known tenure for a Troop 240 Scoutmaster. Our service award is named in his memory. Several former Scoutmasters from the ’80s and ’90s — Jim Dell, Fred Gervat, and Steven Stratford — are still active with the troop. 
By the late ’90s, Troop 240 had 87 Eagle Scouts.

The Troop Today
The current chapter of our history began in 1999, when Joe Acquafredda became Scoutmaster. He had also served as a Ranachqua Lodge committee advisor and a District Committee member. In 2004, both Joe and Jim Dell received the Silver Beaver Award, followed by longtime Assistant Scout Master Andy Stratford (2005). They joined Ed Lehman (1975), Jay Schnapp (1977), and Fred Gervat (1981) as active Beavers in the troop.

Joe Acquafredda was Director of GNYC’s National Youth Leader Training in 2005. Under his leadership, Troop 240 had countless overnights, and special activities including Space Camp (three times), Florida Sea Base, and its own Philmont Trek. Every summer the troop went to Camp Aquehonga at Ten Mile River.
During this time the troop added 2 awards for heroism (Alex Beltran and Tom Gervat). We have 14 Wood Badge recipients — the most of any unit in NYC. In 2010, the troop took a trip to Washington, D.C. as part of our anniversary celebration. 

Scoutmaster Acquafredda passed away suddenly on April 29, 2010.  His death during his tenure as Scoutmaster was a difficult time for Troop 240. Troop 240 is an incredible and important fabric of Riverdale and he was a part of maintaining that fabric. Avi Rubinsztejn was chosen as Scoutmaster. Joe selected and was training Avi as his replacement for several years.

Avi Rubinsztejn took on the responsibility of Scoutmaster of the Troop in April of 2010 after his mentor, Joe Acquafredda’s death. Before becoming Scoutmaster, Avi had been very active in the Troop with his son. 

As a youth Avi was a Scout with Troop 154 at St. Margaret of Cortona Church, Riverdale NY. As Scoutmaster and a Woodbadge Bear he has taken the Troop on 20 to 25 events a year. Under his term the Troop has transformed to a "light weight" backpacking Troop. The Troop has become the “OUTING” part of Scouting. With lots of outdoor activity. 

Avi has led the Troop on ski trips, camping, hiking, climbing, repelling, rifle shooting, shotgun and BB gun shooting, swimming, archery, bowling, Klondike Sled Racing Derby, competed at the West Point Camporee and biking. He also has led Troop 240 on an 85+ mile, 14 day High Adventure, at Philmont Scout Camp in Cimmaron, New Mexico, Backpacking Expedition. Avi has taken the Troop on a 7 day High Adventure Backpacking Trek, completing the entire Southern Rim of Yosemite National Park in California. He has led the Troop on visits to Washington, DC to see our nation’s Capitol, and the Civil War historic Gettysburg National Park. 

The Scouts participate every year in the Flag Planting ceremony at Woodlawn Cemetery for Memorial Day, as well as Color Guard for the Veterans' Day celebrations in Van Cortlandt Park. Troop 240 has gone to see the Harlem Globetrotters, sailed on the Sloop Clearwater, and visited West Point, Wildwood Beach and Morey’s Amusement Park. During Avi’s tenure the troop's Scouts have been earning hundreds of merit badges a year, all with their eye on the goal of becoming Eagle Scouts. So far, he has bestowed the highest award of Scouting and presented 18 Eagle Certificates to the Scouts of Troop 240.  

The troop never loses sight of service to the community. Troop 240 performs countless hours of community service yearly; they have cleaned beaches for The Littoral Society, collected food for Riverdale Presbyterian Church’s Midnight Run, revitalized green areas for the Riverdale Neighborhood House, Riverdale Temple, Methodist Home, Hudson Park, Seton Park and several Nursing homes, collected clothing for Part Of The Solution, collected books for Visitation Church, revitalized Yonkers Animal Shelter just to name a few things.

Troop 240 is most proud of our unique place in the history of Scouting!

This History was taken from the 90th Anniversary Program, February 26, 2010
Designed and written by Emily Peterson, Troop Committee Co-chair,