2018-03-22 / Front Page

Sweet Success

Saco Scouts cook up own maple syrup
By Abigail Worthing
Staff Writer


It was a long night for Saco Boy Scout Troop 371 Friday, March 16, as they tend boiling sap until it turns into maple syrup. Here the troop gathers with their Scoutmasters in front of the steaming sap boiler. Back row, from left, William Pearson, Scoutmaster Brian Alley, former Scoutmaster Steve Littlefield, Nathan Alley, Carl Meserve, Orion Delima, and Scoutmaster Leo Delima. Front row, from left, Nolan Green, Xavier Lemieux and Dominic Ciccariello. (Abigail Worthing photo) It was a long night for Saco Boy Scout Troop 371 Friday, March 16, as they tend boiling sap until it turns into maple syrup. Here the troop gathers with their Scoutmasters in front of the steaming sap boiler. Back row, from left, William Pearson, Scoutmaster Brian Alley, former Scoutmaster Steve Littlefield, Nathan Alley, Carl Meserve, Orion Delima, and Scoutmaster Leo Delima. Front row, from left, Nolan Green, Xavier Lemieux and Dominic Ciccariello. (Abigail Worthing photo) SACO – As winter turns to spring, maple syrup season is in full swing across Maine, and in Saco, one Boy Scout troop is working hard to make syrup for their spring fundraiser.

The Scouts of Troop 371 have collected sap throughout spring and have spent overnights at the Saco Pathfinders Snowmobile Club at 42 Heath Road boiling and bottling maple syrup.

With donations from the community, this is Troop 371’s most successful fundraiser of the year. The Milliken family of Saco allows the Scouts to tap trees on their property in spring, and the scouts take turns emptying out buckets of sap at the end of every day.


Senior patrol leader Orion Delima 16 and Xavier Lemieux 11 share a smile while bottling the now finished maple syrup. (Courtesy photo) Senior patrol leader Orion Delima 16 and Xavier Lemieux 11 share a smile while bottling the now finished maple syrup. (Courtesy photo) “Every kid gets assigned a day,” said Orion Delima, 16, the senior patrol leader for Troop 371. “We connect tubes to the taps and it drains into five-gallon buckets. Then we take the buckets and dump them into the big tank.”

The “big tank” is a 300-gallon tank the Scouts will fill with sap over the course of the spring, and on Fridays the tank is moved from the Milliken property to the Saco Pathfinders Snowmobile Club, the charter organization for the troop.

The Scouts are lead by Scoutmasters Brian Alley and Leo Delima, who have both been involved with the Scouts for eight years. They, along with Steve Littlefield, former Scoutmaster and Boy Scout Committee chairman, will help the boys through the steps of making the syrup.

“Steve has been doing this with Scouts for 20 years,” said Alley. “He’s the soul of our troop.”

As the sap boils, the bacteria from the sap will boil into foam that needs to be regularly skimmed off the top to prevent the sap from boiling over. The Scouts stay up all night in the outdoor tent to boil the sap until it has all been reduced into syrup, feeding the fire and skimming the foam off the boiling sap. Every 40 gallons of sap will yield one gallon of syrup, so it is a long night for the CAP S scouts. Cold temperatures outside mean that they will also have to make sure the tubing from the large tank outside to the boiler inside doesn’t freeze.

“We’ve only had the tubing for two or three years,” said William Pearson, 15. “Before we had to fill the buckets and carry them inside. This is way better.”

The Scouts will also watch and feed the fire, using donated wood. They also use a large Shop-Vac in reverse to blow air into the fire to make the sap boil faster.

“We used to just let it boil, but we found that when we used a blow dryer to stoke the fire it went a lot faster,” Delima said.

“One time the blow dryer caught fire and turned into a flame thrower,” added Dominic Ciccariello. “It was awesome.” When all the sap has been boiled down, the Scouts will then pour the syrup through a finisher, first using a hydrometer to make sure the sap has hit the right temperature.

“The syrup needs to be 180 degrees before it is bottled,” said Carl Meserve, age 17 and senior patrol leader. “Then we label the bottles.”

The finished bottles of syrup get a label noting that it was made and bottled by Troop 371, which are sold throughout the year –pints for $12 and quarts for $20.

To culminate all their hard work, Troop 371 will host its annual pancake breakfast 7 to 11 a.m. Saturday, March 24 at the Saco Pathfinders Snowmobile Club the boys will serve pancakes that feature their own maple syrup. The breakfast is $8 for adults, $5 for children 10 and younger, and free for Scouts in uniform with an adult.

This fundraiser will pay for the Scouts activities throughout the year, such as canoeing in the summer and rock climbing at Salt Pump Climbing Company in Scarborough.

“Scouts does a lot for the youth in the community. We have open enrollment so boys can join whenever the want,” Alley said.

Contact Staff Writer Abigail Worthing at news@inthecourier.com.

FMI

Saco Boy Scout Troop 371 will hold a fundraising pancake breakfast 7 to 11 a.m. Saturday, March 24 at the Saco Pathfinders Snowmobile Club on Heath Road.

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