A century of leadership: State College Boy Scout Troop 31 celebrates 100th anniversary

Boy Scout Troop 31, of State College, has joined some exclusive company.

The local troop is just one of 66 in the country that have been around for at least 100 years, said Craig Colwell, 100th anniversary event chairman. The Scouts and leaders were recognized during a service at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church on Sunday morning.

Colwell said the honor is even more exclusive because the troop has been affiliated with the church for the entirety of its history. Each troop must have a partnership with an organization such as a church or private school.

“To be one of that small handful is pretty special,” he said.

The accomplishment is in part a credit to the Juniata Valley Boy Scouts Council and the local efforts because this troop is the third from the area to reach the 100-year mark. The others are Troop 32, also of State College, and Troop 4 in Reedsville.

Colwell added that it’s been so successful because the lessons learned are as important or more important now than they were in 1914.

The Scouts learn to be leaders, creating the programs themselves from a loose set of guidelines. He said it instills positive qualities from a young age.

“There will always be a place for a program that gives youth a place to succeed without judgment, without peer pressure that teaches them life skills,” he said, adding that the new motto for the group is “100 years and counting.”

And the relationship is also beneficial for the church.

Pastor Ed Zeiders has been involved in the Boy Scouts of America dating back to the 1940s as a youth participant, and he enjoys getting to work with the boys and seeing the program evolve.

He said the program creates leadership skills and he is happy to work with the Scouts on the religious part of the program because that was always a big portion for him.

Kevin Doncsecz, senior patrol leader, also spoke at the event to provide the Scout perspective.

With his time, he propagated the message that teamwork makes tough tasks easier. He brought some children on stage to show that it was much easier for them to pick up a weight when they all worked together.

That is part of what the Scouting program is all about.

The troop frequently takes trips into the woods locally and outside the area to camp and it’s always the responsbility of the Scouts to plan the logistics, Colwell said. They must work together to make everything go as smoothly as possible.

“Sometimes, more often than not, the outcomes are extraordinary,” he said.

The event also featured a special, surprise award for outgoing chartered organization representative Ed Strause. The Cross and Fire award from the church is to celebrate his years of service.

His position as a member of the church is to work with the Scouts to coordinate shared activities. He is succeeded by Joe Davidson, who is the county’s recorder of deeds.