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Dad travels 36 hours to see son become Boy Scout

By Julianne Hanckel

Publication: The Day

Published March 05. 2012 4:00AM
Tim Martin/The Day
Naval Reserve Lt. Cmdr. Pete Stelter of East Lyme, co-leader of Pack 24, Den 2 Webelos of East Lyme, shakes the hand of his 11-year-old son Erik as he hands him his Boy Scout recognition certificate during a Crossing Over ceremony at the Niantic Community Church on Sunday. Erik is now a Boy Scout in Troop 7.
Father, on military duty in Africa, arrives in time for Niantic event

East Lyme - The Crossing Over ceremony from a Webelo Cub Scout to Boy Scout is something that only happens once in a Scout's life. Most of the time, a child can assume his parents will be there for the occasion, but on Sunday, Erik Stelter knew his dad would be there.

That's because his father had traveled 36 hours from Djibouti, Africa, for the ceremony.

"I'm really happy he's here. This only happens once, so I'm glad he's here," Erik Stelter, 11, said. "I'm guessing that the other guys are really happy to see him too."

Naval Reservist Lt. Cmdr. Pete Stelter has been involved with the Scouts for the past four years, including the last three as the Pack 24 den leader. His son and the rest of the Webelos Cub Scout Den 2 took it hard when Stelter was deployed to Djibouti in August.

At first it seemed that the remaining Pack 24 members could handle Stelter's deployment but parent Jan Cushing said Friday that she was surprised at how affected the group really was.

"We had a hard time keeping some of them in Scouts, but we told them that Mr. Stelter would want them to finish and get their Arrow," she said. "They stayed, but it wasn't easy for them to continue without him."

Growing closer to the Arrow of Light ceremony, Stelter wasn't sure he was going to make it home in time so the group postponed the ceremony until they were sure he would be there.

Each of the 11 Cub Scouts received the Arrow of Light during the Sunday afternoon ceremony at the Niantic Community Church.

The Arrow of Light is highest award earned by Webelos who have been active in their den and are ready to join a Boy Scout troop.

Calvin Cushing is one Scout who went "above and beyond" the call of a Webelo and because of that, he earned the Super Achiever award.

"He's earned all 20 pins, which is a big accomplishment for a Webelo and pretty much all you can do as a Webelo," Cubmaster Chris Mazzulli said.

Scout leaders removed the Scouts' green and red scarves before each one crossed over the small bridge on the stage to receive their new scarf. Some of the 11 Scouts are now part of Boy Scout Troop 7 or Boy Scout Troop 240.

State Rep. Ed Jutila, D-East Lyme, congratulated the new Boy Scouts during the ceremony.

"It's uplifting to attend a ceremony like this and see the future of our community, and I think it's going to be a bright one looking at the Scouts here today," Jutila said. "You're moving up in the world and will take on more responsibility as a Boy Scout but know that your parents, your troop leaders and your community will always be there to support you."


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