Ari Klein retires as Cleveland Heights scoutmaster
It is difficult to measure the impact of Boy Scout Troop 22 on the Cleveland Heights community during the 25 years Ari Klein has served as scoutmaster. Klein is retiring from Troop 22, though he will continue to impact the community as a nationally board-certified math teacher at Cleveland Heights High School and as president of the Cleveland Heights Teachers Union, AFT. His tenure as scoutmaster is being celebrated on Nov. 2 by the families of the hundreds of Boy Scouts whose lives he has helped shape.
The number of boys who have earned the rank of Eagle Scout—51 since Klein became scoutmaster in 1988—attests to the leadership style Klein established, with the boys themselves leading the organization through a system of patrol and assistant patrol leaders under the guidance of a senior patrol leader.
“He constantly pushed them to become leaders, to be self-reliant, to develop a sense of integrity,” said one mother. “When I look at how my own two sons have fared, I know that Ari is behind a lot of their success as men.”
Zachary Zippert, who earned Eagle Scout rank in 2011, described Klein’s impact: “Without Ari, I would never have learned how to plan and carry out tasks efficiently. I learned how to be a proper leader. I also learned how to succeed even when faced with adversity. Ari made the troop a safe place for all the scouts to be able to feel accepted and included in the group.”
Troop 22 grew in the late 1990s to 70 boys. One father recalled, “Our son interviewed three scout troops before joining Troop 22, and we know it will continue to be one of the best decisions of his life."
During Klein’s tenure, Troop 22 scouts enjoyed more than 340 camping trips, including weekend trips, weeklong summer camps, and High Adventures for the older boys.
Troop 22 is known for camping once a month, 12 months a year, including tent camping in winter. Trips have taken the boys all over Ohio, Pennsylvania, Ontario, Michigan, West Virginia and upstate New York. Over the years, older boys have backpacked, kayaked, or canoed on High Adventure trips to Shenandoah National Park, the White Mountains, the High Sierras, the Florida Sea Base, Vermont, Canada’s Algonquin Provincial Park, the Great Smoky Mountains, Isle Royale National Park, Canada’s Bruce Peninsula, West Virginia’s Dolly Sods Wilderness, Ontario’s North Bay and the Colorado Rockies. (Imagine the dozens of fathers who fulfilled their camping dreams as they helped supervise these trips.)
Troop 22, which has kept its boys acclimated to outdoor camping all winter, is well known among Greater Cleveland Boy Scouts for winning the annual Klondike Competition year after year in January—after all, Troop 22 can handle any weather.
Eagle Scout and other Troop 22 service projects have improved and supported community institutions, including Beaumont School, the CH-UH Public Library, Dobama Theatre, Homewood Residence, Heights Parent Center, Ruffing Montessori School, Shaker Lakes, the Heights Rockefeller Building, the East 55 Street Pier, Church of the Savior, Lake View Cemetery, Cleveland Heights High School, Coventry playground, Doan Brook Trail, InterAct Cleveland, Shaker Heights Library, McGregor Home and the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
Troop 22 scouts have rehabbed and painted private homes; recycled; helped annually at the Kiwanas Pancake Breakfast; and supported the Interfaith Hospitality Network at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, the troop’s sponsoring organization and site of its regular Monday night meetings.
Klein modeled justice advocacy for the scouts by making Troop 22 a model of inclusivity and welcome for all boys. He has led an effort among Greater Cleveland scout leaders and sponsoring organizations to protest the homophobic stance of the Boy Scouts of America.
Jan Resseger was a Troop 22 parent for six years beginning in the mid-1990s. Her son Matthew and husband, Bill, camped with Troop 22 month after month and year after year. Matthew earned the rank of Eagle Scout in 2000.