Seven months before World War I erupted, a Penn State professor started a new youth group.
In January 1914, Milton Eddy chartered Boy Scout Troop 31 under the auspices of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in State College.
Almost a century later, Eddy’s creation is still going strong.
Troop members, leaders and alumni will gather this weekend for a camp-out at Seven Mountains Boy Scout Camp to start the the troop’s 100th anniversary celebration. Still sponsored by St. Paul’s, the troop has activities planned for all of Saturday, culminating in a classic campfire that night.
“That’s very unusual to have one organization charter a Scout troop for that long a time,” said Craig Colwell, the celebration committee chairman. “We are blessed and honored to have their support.”
Colwell said organizers expect about 110 guests, many of whom will camp from Friday night until the celebration ends at noon Sunday.
At 8 a.m. Saturday, U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Howard Township, will start the day by presenting an American flag that flew over the U.S. Capitol.
Throughout the morning and afternoon, a full program of events will include knot-tying and other scouting skills workshops; outdoor sports such as canoeing and kayaking; and archery and BB gun target shooting. During the day, the camp’s trading post will display of vintage Boy Scout uniforms, hats, badges, handbooks and other memorabilia drawn from troop leaders’ collections.
Following a formal dinner in the dining hall, a campfire gathering will start by honoring past troop scoutmasters and recognizing merit badges and rank advancements for current scouts. Afterward, Colwell said, there will be “lots of songs and skits and silly jokes, all the kinds of stuff that you do around a good old-fashioned campfire.”
As of Monday, Colwell said, 31 alumni had registered for the camp-out, including a few of the troop’s 170 Eagle Scouts.
Colwell said the celebration has been in the works for about 18 months. Organizers made sure to involve the Scouts in the planning, holding a contest to design a special logo for the weekend.
“The boys have been quite active in this,” Colwell said. “They’ve been real excited about the event.”
The camp-out comes as another State College troop, the State College Presbyterian Church-sponsored Troop 32, also marks 100 years of Scouting and community service.
“So really, we’re celebrating Scouting in State College for 100 years,” Colwell said.