Past and current members of Boy Scout Troop 184, Hamburg, gathered with leaders, family members and friends to observe the troop’s 75th anniversary on Aug. 16. The day-long event included tours of the group’s cabin and woodlands, called Scoutland, off Port Clinton Avenue and a banquet in the evening held at Salem EC Church, Lenhartsville.
Banquet attendees arrived early to browse an exhibit of troop memorabilia, including a wooden board from 1939 with the names of the charter members of the troop, originally called Troop 2. Also on display were award ribbons, uniforms and decorative slides, patches and photo albums from many trips to Canada (for canoeing) and Scouting Jamborees over the past seven decades.
Each attendee received a decorative patch marking the anniversary as well as a tall glass with the same emblem. As the tables filled, Senior Patrol Leader Brandon Kutz called the group to order. The evening officially began with the presentation of the American flag, the Pledge of Allegiance and a recitation of the Scout Oath and Law. Voices of scouts from current and past generations chimed in on the Oath, with fingers held in the Scout salute.
The meal itself (prepared by Scout parents and leaders) included a hot sandwich buffet and an assortment of cold salads. Many former Scouts enjoyed introducing their babies and young children to Scout leaders, and laughter rang out as stories were shared from years of scouting experiences. Dennis Miller, current Scoutmaster and a former Troop 184 Boy Scout, stood and talked briefly about the group.
“Some of our memories may be older than some of our younger ones here,” he noted, then invited all to read the written history at each place setting. “We still have families in town dating back to the ’39 charter,” he said. “The key is to keep the program going for the scouts.”
He nodded to one of the babies in the crowd and said, “Who knows? He may be running things up here one day.”
Miller opened up the floor, inviting all present to share their memories from the troop. Ensuing comments covered the history of the troop, service projects, community parades, mentoring between scouts and leaders and lots of trip stories.
Leroy Fritz, charter representative, noted he became involved with the troop when his wife volunteered him as a replacement den leader. “Twenty years later, here I am,” he joked, then shared a story from a trip to Canada involving an out-of-control fire and a scout who bypassed the water from the nearby lake and elected, instead, to throw a big rock on the flames.
His son, Travis Fritz, shared how the troop prepared him for his time in the Marine Corp and his current career as a police officer. “I attribute my success in life to my time in the scouts, and I hope to have my son involved as a scout one day,” he said.
The bridge scouting provided between generations was a theme for the night. Linda Hudson, daughter of Scoutmaster Emeritus Harold “Freck” Miller, shared how her father was able to assist his great-grandson, a young cub scout, create a pinewood derby car this year.
Freck Miller, wearing his original 1977 Jamboree uniform, stood and held the commemorative patch up. “Scoutland means a lot to me,” he said, emotion in his voice. “I’m glad to see it growing.”
Former troop member Pete Schlenker joked about getting in trouble, but added “I think a lot of Freck today because of how much he helped us and pushed us to finish the job [to earn an Eagle].”
“What I learned in this troop, coupled with my Eagle,” added another Eagle from 184, Steve Hurley, “I value more than my high school diploma, my college degree and my graduate degree combined.”
The evening also included traditional Scout songs and a variety of comical skits presented by current scouts, who were assisted by some former 184 members. Finally, after several hours of shared memories, laughter and tears, the colors were retired, the lights were dimmed and the group sang Scout Vespers: “Have I done my daily task? Have I kept my honor bright? Can I guiltless sleep tonight? Have I done and have I dared everything to be prepared?”