This is a reprint of story that ran on Bed-Stuy Patch 2/2/11. We have decided to run it again, not only because Mrs. Adele Trapp truly is one of Bed-Stuy's history makers, but Mrs. Adele Trapp turned 98 yesterday, on February 26. What a milestone!
February 27, 2012: Mrs. Adele Trapp sits, cane resting against her leg, watching the Cub Scouts arrive a few at a time.
It’s 6:30pm on Tuesday night at the St. Phillips Episcopal Church in Bed-Stuy, and “Mama” Trapp seems comfortable and sweetly commanding from her perch on a pink cushioned church chair.
Mama Trapp has been the den mother for Cub Scouts Troop 263 for the last 53 years. Mrs. Trapp recently was awarded the Guinness Book of World Records title for longest-serving den mother.
Mama Trapp was born in Barbados & was transplanted to Brooklyn as a first grader. She went through the school system and worked hard to get her GED and then spent years working as a secretary for the controller at the Transit Authority.
She then retired, but not for long. She was offered a job as a secretary for the Department of Education where she was known for bringing lunches and goodies for her co-workers and the school children.
Trapp decided to live off of her pension from the Transit Authority and saved every check from the school board to buy bonds. When she retired the second time, she was able to give each one of her 10 grandchildren a $10,000 bond to used toward their education.
Though she had no sons of her own, Mama Trapp was invited to be a den mother at a Cub Scouts meeting, where she had planned to drop off her grandnephew and a friend.
Mama Trapp says she loves to be surrounded by people, particularly children. So falling into Cub Scouts was really a lucky coincidence.
Mama Trapp is turning 97 on her birthday in February, but she doesn’t let her age stop her from doing what she loves.
She bowls once a week on the Gil Hodges Senior Bowling League. As a bowler, she has traveled to every state for national bowling competitions, where she frequently wins in her categories. Two weeks ago, Trapp bowled a 123! She also still attends all of the Cub Scout meetings and camps and keeps a watchful eye over the activities and motivates the boys to do their best.
“I’ll find something to help them succeed," said Mama Trapp. "It helps to tell them nice things.”
Every Eagle Scout in the troop 263 has come through Mama Trapp.
“The kids look forward to coming here for support; they look to Trapp as a surrogate mother or grandmother,“ says Evelyn Rainford, her daughter.
Her group of cubs thinks she’s pretty neat too.
“I think it’s cool that she’s 96 and still a den leader,” said Zachary Bentley, 10, a Cub Scouts member. “She treats us all like part of her family. She makes us want to do good! She inspires me to be 96 and get old.”
“She helps us with activities and our workbook; she always makes sure we’re safe,” says Jonathan Patrick, 10, a Cub Scouts member.
“But sometimes she’s a little bossy,” 12-year-old Patrick Moore said, laughing.
The young Scouts go on and on about how encouraging and empowering Mama Trapp is to them.
Cell phones have been tucked away, computers and video games left at home; the boys laugh and joke, balancing cookies on their head & sucking on lollipops while Mama Trapp quietly watches, eyes smiling.
Occasionally she reaches over to tap a knee to remind the boys to mind their manners. The room stays a quiet buzz of activity and you can see Mrs. Trapp soaking it all in. She’s an encouraging, empowering force for the children.
“She wants to buy them the moon,” said Rainford.
Mrs. Adele Trapp, we acknowledge your vast contributions to the youth of Bedford-Stuyvesant, and we honor your continued and invaluable presence in the community.
Happy 97th Birthday!