Rostraver family helps Monessen troop build on Scouting tradition
Monessen Boy Scout Troop 1510 may be a small unit, but it functions like a big, happy family.
Scoutmaster John Leavor of Rostraver said the scouts in the group, frequently accompanied by their parents, have been an inseparable team.
A lifelong outdoorsman, Leavor said he has benefited from many bonding experiences with his children thorough Scouts and has made many friendships that have enhanced his life and that of his wife and their three scouting sons.
Never a Scout himself, Leavor has held several leadership roles in the organization since 1993.
He has been scoutmaster of Troop 1510 for the last three years and has been with the group since 1998.
Leavor's wife, Cathy, has been an officer along with her husband for the same amount of time.
She is the Troop 1510 treasurer.
The Leavors' youngest child, Sean, 18, completed his Eagle Scout project last month and is waiting for final approval to reach the highest rank in Scouts.
His 18th birthday on May 31 marked his last day with Troop 1510.
"I want to be a leader of the troop eventually," he said.
For his project, Sean Leavor directed the refurbishment of a welcome area at Cedar Creek Park in Rostraver that features the names of Westmoreland County Parks and elected officials in the area.
Sean Leavor's two older brothers -- Kevin, 25, and Gary, 22 -- became Eagle Scouts, and their parents were there every step of the way.
Troop 1510 features scouts from Monessen and surrounding areas.
The troop members are Joe Carter, 13, of Belle Vernon; Jordan Bolden, 13, of Monessen; Logan Booher, 13, of Belle Vernon; Alec Tesznar, 12, of Monessen; and Sam McCreary, 11, of Belle Vernon.
The troop's trademark is tackling community projects, John Leavor said.
For the last six years, the kids have taken care of a large flower bed at the Monessen welcome sign, along Route 906, on the city's outskirts.
Earlier this month, they planted hundreds of flowers and did landscaping there.
Each year from mid-May to mid-October, the troop members serve as the site's groundskeepers.
This past week, Troop 1510 put up American flags for Memorial Day in downtown Monessen and took them down the evening of the holiday.
The troop has also consistently been involved in holiday parades and dedication services.
And its members have traveled together to many scouting functions outside of the Mid-Mon Valley.
But, the impact they make on their local communities is what is most important, the troop leaders said.
"They're doing something that gives them positive feedback," John Leavor said. "It also gives them pride in what they're doing ... something to celebrate holidays or make the town look better. We do this as a community service.
"They develop partnerships and learn how to work together and live together as a group."
John and Cathy Leavor said the time they have spent in Scouts has been invaluable.
"I have nothing against sports, but if you are in sports, what are you doing with your kid• You're sitting up there in the stands watching, saying, 'Go, go, go!'" John Leavor said. "If you're in Boy Scouts, you can work right along your son, or other kids, and teach them skills."
John Leavor said the Scouts are mostly in charge of Troop 1510.
"The kids plan the meetings. They run the meetings. We are there in support," he said of the adults. "That's the way the Boy Scouts are supposed to be run. It is a boy-run organization. They come up with projects. If they need us to help, that's fine."
John Leavor said declining population has translated into smaller Scout troops locally.
"There used to be four or five troops in Monessen alone at one time. You're talking in like the '50s," he said, adding that Troop 1510 was established in 1948.
But, having a smaller group means more focus on each individual, he added.
"I get a great feeling of satisfaction that I can watch these boys grow and become better persons," the scoutmaster said.
John Leavor said he is always looking forward to sharing that next breakthrough moment with a Scout.
"Some of the kids, it takes them a whole week to figure out what you're trying to tell them," he said. "Once they get it, you see that look in their eyes ... to me, that's the greatest feeling I can have."