Scouting a way of life for Greenfield Maloney family

  • The three Maloney brothers several years ago at camp: Ruari at left, Aengus and John. contributed photo

  • Ernie Royer of Snow and Sons Landscaping shields a map of the trails in the woods around Poet's Seat tower in Greenfield as John Maloney, an Eagle Scout candidate navigates to areas in the woods where he and other Boyscouts will be cleaning up fallen trees and other trail blockages Sunday June 21. Recorder/Matt Burkhartt Matt Burkhartt

  • The Maloney family, from left: Mark, Aengus, Ruari, Marty and John. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Staff Photo/Dan Little

Staff Writer
Published: 9/25/2019 9:27:41 AM

They say families that play together, stay together, but for the Maloneys, scouting is what keeps them close. Mark and Martha “Marty” Maloney raised their three boys in Greenfield. Mark himself was a Boy Scout. Now, all three of his sons are Eagle Scouts, the highest rank you can reach in Boy Scouts, and their parents have been — and still are — heavily involved.

“You don’t generally find three of three boys from one family making Eagle Scout,” their father said. “And, they all have such different personalities that have gotten them to where they are today. It has been fun to watch.”

Upholding a family legacy

Mark is a cubmaster and an assistant scoutmaster, while Marty has sewn hundreds of badges on her sons’ uniforms — and she’s done the same for many of their friends.

John, the oldest son at 22, became an Eagle Scout in 2016, when he completed his Poet’s Seat Ridge Trail restoration project. His brothers followed suit early this year with their own projects.

John, who is studying economics at Ithaca College in upstate New York, worked on three trails along the ridge, removing multiple fallen trees, restoring an entrance sign, performing erosion control and removing brush that blocked access. He also placed updated signs on each trail, re-blazing them as needed.

He said those trails were special to him because he had walked them so many times with his father and brothers, including on their annual Christmas Day walk.

Aengus, the middle son at 19, tends to be more outgoing than the other two, his father said. Aengus’ Eagle Scout project involved building bat boxes for the Franklin County Technical School nursery run by landscaping and horticulture students. He said the boxes offer shelter to endangered bat species, which assist with mosquito control.

“Scouting has brought me to some beautiful places, to do things most people don’t get to do,” said Aengus, who is studying crime and justice at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. “I’m thankful for that and for the good friends I’ve made along the way. Without scouting, I would have missed many opportunities.”

Aengus is the only one of the three brothers and the first of Troop 5 in Greenfield to attend the Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, N.M., which covers 140,177 acres of wilderness in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. It was donated by oil baron Waite Phillips and is owned and operated by the Boy Scouts of America. As part of his stay, he had to hike 120 miles of desert high country.

“He likes adventure,” Mark said. “He’s a big outdoors person. He learned to do things he didn’t know he was capable of doing when he went to Philmont.”

Aengus and his brother, Ruari, the youngest of the clan at 16, became Eagle Scouts during the same ceremony, with their brother, John, serving as master of ceremonies.

John said the ranks and awards his two brothers have received — just as he did when he was younger — are symbols of learning, hard work and service to others. He said they have been examples to younger Scouts and to their community.

John and Aengus became Eagle Scouts just before their 18th birthdays — a Scout ages out at 18 and cannot become an Eagle after that — while Ruari did it when he was 15.

“I didn’t want to feel rushed,” Ruari said.

Mark said his youngest son is the planner.

“He’s always planning everything way ahead,” he said.

Marty said her youngest son always puts a lot of energy into making sure, for instance, that the Scouts’ monthly camp-out is well planned.

“He plans each one every month,” Marty said. “He still calls John to brainstorm sometimes. He likes discussing ideas with his older brothers, who have been through this.”

Their mother said scouting has taught her sons to be creative and push through anything. She said, for instance, Aengus worked really hard to raise money and prepare to go to Philmont.

John said Ruari didn’t know how to swim when he first joined Troop 5 in Greenfield after crossing over from Cub Scout to Boy Scout, but he improved each summer until he could “swim like a fish.”

“I’m incredibly privileged as their older brother to watch both grow and change and become confident young dudes,” John said. “In the almost decade they’ve each been in scouting, I’ve watched them become confident, more able and more motivated.”

Ruari’s project

Ruari, who got into scouting as a Tiger Cub at about 6 years old, wanted to quit a couple of times, but his mother and father encouraged him to stay, and he said he is more than glad he did.

“At 11 years old, I became a Boy Scout,” he said. “I was the youngest in the troop, but that didn’t bother me. I’ve been the youngest a few times.”

Ruari said he reached the first three ranks in one year, learning all sorts of skills, including citizenship, which made him a “better member of my community.” He spent about 300 hours on his Eagle Scout project.

Ruari decided to restore an old barn being used for storage at the Franklin County Fairgrounds, which is located near the grandstand.

“It was falling apart,” he said. “It was used for storage, but the metal roof was rusted, there were fox holes and there was trash inside.”

He and his volunteers — his parents, brothers, other Scouts and their parents — took down the siding, cut off the rotted bottom and made new sills to hold up the walls. They removed everything from inside and let Franklin County Agricultural Society President Fred Steiner decide what would be kept and what wouldn’t. The items that were kept had to be transported from one end of the fairgrounds to the other, and all the rest was put in a dumpster.

“We took rusty nails out of walls, painted everything, built shelves. We restored the barn to shiny and new,” Ruari said.

The project was approved last July, and on Aug. 2, Ruari and his team began the two full days of work. The rest of the hours included planning and fundraising.

“It was so hot those days,” Ruari remembered. “But, our goal was to be done before the end of August, so that the barn would be ready for the fair in September.”

The 15 to 20 volunteers broke off into smaller groups at Ruari’s direction. Some hauled trash, some painted and others moved electrical equipment.

In the end, Ruari earned 35 badges to get him to the rank of Eagle Scout. He needed 21, so the extra badges were just the icing on the cake. He plans to stay in scouting.

What’s next?

John and Aengus are still involved in scouting, but now as leaders. Mark said he will continue to work with the local troop. Ruari wants to graduate from Greenfield High School and head to college to study something that will get him into the film industry.

“The skills I’ve learned in scouting — social skills, public speaking, planning, organizing, everything — will help a lot,” Ruari said.

Marty said whenever she asks her youngest son how he’s going to accomplish something, he says, “Don’t worry, Mom. I can handle this. I’m an Eagle Scout.”

“Yeah,” Ruari said. “I’m pretty sure if I get lost in the woods, I can get out.”

Ruari said he knows how to give and take orders.

“I listen,” he said. “I do everything to the best of my ability. That’ll help when I go to college, and when I get a job.”

A proud mother, Marty said, with a smile, not only will her sons handle themselves with confidence throughout their lives, but they’ll be able to tie the right knot.

“They’re very comfortable with people,” she said. “Scouts has helped a lot. Scouts is paying off in other areas of their lives. They’ve loved it and gotten a lot out of it, so I’m all for it.”

Their father said he feels that one testament to what his sons’ upbringing and scouting has done for them is how people will approach him and Marty to say, “You have such good kids.”

“They all have optimistic outlooks on life,” Mark said. “And they’re doers. They don’t sit around and whine about something — they step up and fix it.”

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