Past and current scouts, their family and friends are invited to a celebration of Troop 184’s 75th Anniversary this Saturday, Aug. 16. Current scoutmaster, Dennis Miller, estimates more than 1,000 boys have come through the troop since it chartered at St. John’s Church, Hamburg, in 1939, and 99 scouts have earned their Eagle rank through Troop 184. Current scout Brandon Kutz is currently working toward this goal and will be the 100th to earn this highest rank attainable in the Boy Scout program. “Since I’m in as scoutmaster, I’ve presented 50 of them,” Miller said.
Miller himself was a scout in Troop 184 when his father, Harold “Freck” Miller, was scoutmaster. Miller never earned the Eagle rank, though. “Pop never forced me to do it,” he shared, noting that his father also did not obtain the honor, which for a time was an option for adult leaders. (Today, scouts must be no older than 18 when obtaining the rank.)
Though not an Eagle, Miller said, “I was in the troop and we did a lot. That’s when we built the cabin, in the 70s.” In fact, the cabin is a crucial hub of Troop 184. Having acreage and an actual cabin keeps boys involved in the troop, Miller believes, as do regular participation in scouting Jamborees as well as frequent boating trips to Canada since 1966.
Miller recalled raising money for trips during his boyhood through scrap drives. “We did recycling when recycling wasn’t popular,” he explained. “We’d drive around Hamburg every two weeks, collecting newspapers. And that was how we raised money and how we paid our way to go places.”
Miller also recalled doing riot training as a scout. “We did training with the PA National Guard out of Kutztown and at the Leesport Auction,” he recalled. “We’d show up and we’d be the ‘rioters.’ Nothing more fun than a bunch of scouts attacking a bunch of army guys. We’d take water balloons and throw all kinds of stuff at them, we’d build barricades. We’d help them out, they’d get their training and we had a heck of a lot of fun.”
After his years in the troop, Miller returned to scouting when his own son became a cub scout. Miller served as cubmaster for several years and then, in the early 90s, became scoutmaster of 184. “And I’ve been there ever since. It’s fun to see the kids grow up. We’re fortunate – we get to see older scouts who come back.”
Many troop 184 “graduates” have remained involved in scouting and some have even made a career of it. “And that,” Miller said, “is the reward. It’s nice to see the ‘kids’ come back.”
Freck Miller feels the same way. “Scouting was his life,” Miller said of his father, who this year celebrates 70 years as a scout. Many of the troop’s former leaders, including Freck, will be attendance at the Aug. 16 anniversary and a number of them will be wearing their uniforms.
The celebration will begin with tours of Scoutland, the cabin and land located at 1005 Port Clinton Ave., near the dam breast. From 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., the public is invited to drive up the mountain to the cabin, tour the area and enjoy hotdogs and “good ‘ole scouting” bug juice.
“We’ll have a campfire,” Miller said. “People can come and go as they please. We’ll show them what they want to see, they can talk about their memories and reminisce about the good old days. And [hear about good] things that are still happening.”
The festivities will continue in the evening at Salem EC Church, 2150 Old Route 22, Lenhartsville. Doors will open at 4 p.m. for a Memorabilia Display. Guests are welcome to wander the tables, meet up with old friends and discuss their days as scouts. Former members and leaders are welcome to bring their own patches and neckerchiefs, etc., to share. Canteens, uniforms and pictures will also be on hand.
At 5:15 p.m., an anniversary banquet will begin. There is a cost per person for the banquet which will include turkey barbecue, meatball sandwiches, assorted salads, baked beans and, for dessert, a Troop 184 tradition: peach cobbler and ice cream. Attendees will each receive a 75th anniversary souvenir patch as well as a glass with the anniversary emblem.
The banquet program will be emceed by Brandon Kutz, who is senior patrol leader. Planned items include various skits and scout songs. “We’ll talk about the troop and the mountain, and then we’ll open the floor up,” Miller says. “People can stand and share memories. You’ll hear all kinds of stories, and you’ll laugh your head off.”
If you did not RSVP for this anniversary event, you can still attend. The tours of Scoutland are open to the public at no charge, and tickets to the evening banquet will be sold at the door. More information is available on Troop 184’s Facebook page or by contacting Scoutmaster Dennis Miller (610.562.5794 or Kid184@comcast.net).