Buffalo Grove scouts celebrate five decades of adventures
BY IRV LEAVITT firstname.lastname@example.org | @IrvLeavitt February 10, 2014 6:52PM
Buffalo Grove-2/8/14, Sat./St. Mary Church Edward Jost, of Prairie View Scout Master from 1960-62, during introduction of Scout Masters Saturday in Buffalo Grove. Joe Shuman/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 12, 2014 6:12AM
A big room in Buffalo Grove, packed with khaki and green uniforms Saturday night, seemed to establish that in a suburban schoolboy era cued to video-gaming, homework-grinding, big sports programs and other after-school devotions, there’s still room for Boy Scouting.
It hasn’t always been easy to keep it up in Buffalo Grove’s Troop 140, but after 57 years meeting at Saint Mary Parish, there are still 71 scouts, and lots of supporters.
Saturday night was a celebration originally planned as a 50-year fete, but after crunching the numbers a little more accurately, the parents decided that it was much better late than never. Thirteen of the total of 25 scoutmasters came to the church to be recognized, going back to Ed Jost, who led from 1960-1962.
One of those leaders is Jack Knight, who took over the troop for three years starting in 1989, when Troop 140 was down to eight scouts.
He invited the small group and some of their parents into his living room, and asked them what they wanted.
The answer: Skiing, rifle-shooting, rock-climbing and long bike hikes.
So that’s what they got, and more. Three years later, the troop had swelled to 43 scouts.
And the attractions for the boys kept getting better. Now, in addition to the regular tent-and-knapsack stuff, there’s kayaking, rock-climbing, scuba-diving and sailing. Adventures have taken the Buffalo Grove scouts to Alaska, Florida, Yosemite, Colorado and even Iceland.
“They have 140 activities to choose from” in high school, Knight said. “You’ve got to compete against that.”
It’s a far cry from the trips of the old days, when Jost would basically take the kids no more than a few miles away for camping or backpacking. Now, many parents are – have to be – involved in organization and leadership.
“It’s like running a corporation,” assistant scoutmaster David Becker said.
The trips are expensive, but that hasn’t held the group back, Knight said.
“We’ve got people around here who can write a check,” he said.
Boy scouting is for youths 11 to 18, but it doesn’t always have the cool factor that those in high school may need. That’s a little different when the kids can say they’ve hiked in Alaska or Iceland, or climbed a mountain, Knight said.
For those who still don’t like the weekly meetings and all the merit badges, there’s Venturing: that’s the adjunct to scouting for high school through age 20 that includes young women. Troop 140’s Venture Crew has 33 members, almost half of whom are girls. That’s aside from the 71 Boy Scouts.
The troop’s size is actually large for the area. Over the years, it’s produced 162 Eagle Scouts, which is likely one of the highest numbers in the area. Eagles are scouts who, among other things, complete a service project and earn 21 merit badges.
Boy Scouting, of course, aims to create good citizens, and that’s the reason that leaders try so hard to create programs that attract them.
Bob Dold, who formerly held the area’s 10th District seat in Congress, addressed the group Saturday.
“Not a day goes by that I do not reflect on what I learned as a scout,” he told the group.
Dold achieved the rank of Eagle Scout, and is the scoutmaster of Kenilworth Boy Scout Troop 13.
The Troop 140 scoutmaster for the last three years, Tim Meinholz, was never a scout as a boy.
But early in his leadership career, he found that the adults aren’t the only leaders. He remembered a handful of newly-admitted scouts refusing to rappel down a 100-foot cliff.
“I couldn’t talk them into it,” he said. “I had given up on it. But then this 17-year-old Life Scout came over and asked to talk to them. And a few minutes later, they were going over the side.”
The Life Scout — a step below Eagle — told the boys that he had missed opportunities in scouting, and was now running out of time to make it to where he wanted to go.
The scout told the boys, “Don’t be like me,” Meinholz recalled.
Maybe it’s never to early to learn that you only live once.