As written by: Judy Ferrante
Back in the fall of 2010, I put together an article on ‘Brothers’ who camped at Yawgoog. I know there are a lot of you ‘out there’ so I would ask that all of you, who have one brother, two, three or more, who camped at Yawgoog get together and email or mail me a story or two about your time at Yawgoog. Here are stories from three brothers. Let’s hear from THE CHOQUETTE BROTHERS.
As told to me by Paul Choquette
Paul Choquette was the first Choquette Brother to be on staff at Yawgoog. He worked at Baden Powell and Dan Boone. When his younger brothers Bill and Tom came along, Paul told them to be better swimmers than he was so that they could work at the Waterfront. That was the place to work! Not only did you get to stay in a waterfront cabin but you got to look across the pond to Gwen Anthony’s (Gus’ daughter) cabin. In addition, if you were having a problem with a Scout, you could always take his ‘buddy tag’ away from him so that he couldn’t swim for a day.
Being a kid from White Plains, New York, the staff at the waterfront figured Paul wouldn’t have any one visiting him. So one day to demonstrate life-saving techniques, they told Paul to go hide under the docks. They did a ‘buddy tag’ count and noticed one tag missing, so they initiated a search for the missing Scout. Little did they know that Paul’s mother and father visited every single Sunday for the Dress Parade and were there when they announced that Paul was missing. Paul’s mother pulled out her Rosary Beads and began praying nervously while Paul’s father paced and comforted her. All was once again right with the world when Paul was found and his parents learned that his ‘gone missing’ was just a training exercise. When the Choquette boys worked on staff at Yawgoog, their home was in White Plains, New York. The Choquettes had a summer beach home in Rhode Island and every Friday night, Paul’s father would take the train to Rhode Island and spend Saturday at the beach house and every Sunday Paul’s mother and father would come to Yawgoog for the Dress Parade. On Sunday night, Paul’s father would be back on the train to White Plains for another week of work.
Now, a story from Bill Choquette
I was a rookie Yawgoog Camper in 1951. My brother, Paul, had preceded me to Yawgoog in 1949, and our brother, Tom, was to follow in 1952. The Choquette Brothers had heard about Camp Yawgoog for many years from our Eagle Scout uncles, Tom and Bill Gilbane, of Providence. The Choquettes had lived in Rhode Island but moved to White Plains, New York, when our engineer Dad took a job in New York City.
Paul and I joined Troop 20 in White Plains after Cub Scouts and were lucky our parents were able to send us to Yawgoog for the entire 8 weeks. Yawgoog had three stopover Camps in those days, one in each Division, and many Scouts chose to stay for all 8 weeks. I do not remember the weekly cost but it was a bargain. Our parents loved summering in Rhode Island with us safely at Camp. Their sole responsibility was to attend the Sunday Dress Parade.
In my rookie year staying at Camp Dan Boone in Sandy Beach, I was given a personal note alerting me to meet with Chief Williams at the Bucklin Lodge Office. I did not know what to think. My brother Paul said that Chief Williams was a good guy and that I should not be worried about the meeting. But, he was the CHIEF!
So I headed up to meet with the Chief who advised me that I had been selected as one of the several first year campers to play the part of a ‘New Scout’ in the All Camp Show at the end of Camp. The Chief said he knew my brother and my uncles and knew that I came from good stock. He asked me if the part interested me and I nervously said ‘yes’. The Chief said the next step would be an interview at the Bucklin with his Chief Staff Assistant, Angelo Zuccolo, whom I knew as ‘Zook the Spook’. The Chief did not say how many candidates there would be for the part but he told me to relax and be myself with Angelo. A few days later I was called to meet with Angelo and he gave me my test by reading several passages from a Scout book. He asked me to read strongly so that he could test my voice for tone and volume. Angelo thanked me for coming to meet with him and advised me that he would let me know shortly if I was selected. Lo’ and behold, a note from Angelo came several days later telling me that I had been chosen to play the ‘New Scout’ in the All Camp Show. I remember the many weeks of rehearsing with both Chief Williams and Angelo involved in the directing. I never dreamed of being an actor in a show with extensive lines to remember. Both Chief Williams and Angelo Zuccolo gave all of us in the All Camp Show the confidence we needed to perform our parts well and the show was put on twice and acclaimed a great success.
Chief Williams had a way of giving us difficult assignments that made us believe in our abilities. Angelo Zuccolo had a great sense of humor which he brought out in each of us.
I have never forgotten the experience of having this role as an 11 year old rookie camper at Yawgoog. I believe that having the chance to play this part, along with the many adventures of Yawgoog, achieving the rank of Eagle Scout, and working on the Yawgoog Staff for three years, have served me well in my life. Once a Yawgoog Camper – always one – I still enjoy helping out with Advancement in Troop 90 Washington, DC – and hopefully, giving back a little of what I received and learned at Yawgoog.
And as for the youngest Choquette Brother, Tom
Tom was responsible for a significant decision at Camp Yawgoog. After having been tutored by his big brother Bill, he was an excellent boxer. Unfortunately for his opponents, the results were predicable. In fact, concern about exposure to a boxer like Tom resulted in Camp ending boxing.
Tom went on and had a wonderful high school and college career in football and the memories of his boxing success drove his many successes in life.
Shine Brothers, you’re up next!!!
CALLING ALL BROTHERS! SEND YOUR STORIES TO:
Yawgoog Alumni Association
c/o Narragansett Council, BSA
P.O. Box 14777
East Providence, RI 02914-0777