About Troop 97

B.S.A. Troop 97 is chartered by Sugar Creek United Methodist Church of Chatham, Illinois. The church is on New City Road across from Ball Elementary School. We meet every Monday night at 7:00pm (except the 2nd Mon. of the Month), and encourage guests to come and visit with us.

Troop 97 History

The following is a brief, reverse chronological history of Troop 97

Tim Tripp / Scoutmaster 2013-current

Upon the crossing over of my oldest son from Pack 79 to Troop 97, I quickly recognized the quality of program Boy Scouts was and how well Troop 97 executed that program in line with the vision of Scouting. Opportunities afforded the Scouts weren’t simply important for their development in character, leadership and skill; but the opportunities were fun. As a parent I began to attend outings and realized it was an organization to which I needed to dedicate my time. As I recognized SM Bob Tregoning was positioning to step into a new role as an ASM, I weighed if I really could afford the time to dedicate to this position. It took only a couple of conversations with Bob, former Scoutmaster’s Harv Koplo and Jeff Hutton, and current Committee Chair Aly Grady to realize that I couldn’t afford NOT to dedicate my time to such an important organization.

Recognizing Troop 97 was continually growing since it began as a start-up Troop in 1997, it was clear 15 years has been hard on the equipment. During these couple of years, through the Troop Committee, Troop 97 began a large equipment update. Thirteen Eureka 4 season tents were purchased, several new lanterns and distribution trees. Several new patrol boxes were constructed and all seven patrol boxes were outfitted with identical, new equipment. A new, larger trailer is on the horizon and the Troop is operating in a great financial position to afford Scouts every scouting opportunity they seek.

These advancements, however, pale in comparison to the successes of Troop 97 when it comes to youth development. During these last couple of years, Troop 97 has had 50+ scouts on the Charter with over 30 registered adult leaders to guide the way. In the less than 20 year history of Troop 97, nearly 40 scouts have already attained the rank of Eagle with another 10 Life scouts on the verge of this notable achievement. The character and dedication of these scouts reflects highly in the Council as several have served in the Order of the Arrow Lodge Executive Council and on the National Youth Leader Training staff. Troop 97 scouts continually demonstrate their dedication to community and service. As I humbly have served in this position as Scoutmaster, I recognize on a daily basis that it is I, who have received the greatest blessing and benefits from the scouting Program of Troop 97. In this game of life, it is the Scouts who have taught me life skills which I take to my work place; skills of tenacity, drive, determination, patience, tolerance, and acceptance. Participating as an adult adviser to the scouts has truly given me much more than I could have ever given to the scouts. I treasure with humility, this opportunity I have been given to serve in this capacity.

BobTregoning / Scoutmaster 1/1/2008-2/27/2013

In 2007 I was serving as the Committee Chair for Troop 97 when the then current Scoutmaster Jeff Hutton approached me and asked that I start looking for his replacement. He had served five years and was ready to hand the position of Scoutmaster off to the next leader.

At first I took the action plan of ignoring him in the hopes that this desire to step down would fade away. It did not fade away and not wanting to incur the wrath of his wife Jean I set to the task of finding his replacement.

As I thought about who should replace Jeff I began to remember my recent years as Cubmaster of Pack 79 and the great memories I came away from that experience. Also being part of the Scouting program since I was a young boy and earning my Eagle rank as a teenager I soon realized that it was my turn to step up and serve Troop 97.

However, I could not let Jeff off that easily. So after much negotiation it was decided that Jeff and I would switch positions. I would become the next Scoutmaster for Troop 97 and Jeff would take over my position as the Committee Chair.

Troop 97 has long enjoyed a history of good participation by young men in its program. The troop is always in the top three of being the largest troop of registered scouts and leaders in the Abraham Lincoln Council. We have had a large number of our scouts throughout the years achieve the rank of Eagle and our Scoutmasters have all served long tenures.

I am full of memories of my years in Troop 97. The memories of so many campouts, meetings, high adventure trips and events. But what I remember more strongly is the feeling I have when I am with the troop. The feeling of camaraderie with the scouts, fellow leaders and parents. The feeling of friendships I forged. The feeling when I realize that I am learning as much as the scouts are and we are doing it together. The feeling of watching young boys turn into young men. To see how the Scouting program helped mold those same young men into fine adults. Acknowledging that the Scout Laws are truly a guide for life. That as I live on through my life I want to be known by others as being… Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean and Reverent. You really can’t ask for more than that.

Jeff Hutton / Scoutmaster 2001-2007

When Harv told me he was going to step down as Scoutmaster I felt a sinking sensation in my stomach. I knew I was going to be asked to be the new Scoutmaster of Troop 97. Not wanted to step on any toes, since I had not been an Assistance Scoutmaster that long, I suggested that maybe Lew Fehring or Glen Schmideler would be better Scoutmasters since they had been with the troop longer than I had and were more experienced. It turned out they were indeed more experienced than I because they had already discussed who should be the new Scoutmaster with Harv. They suggested that I was more patient with the kids they were and as such, would be a better Scoutmaster.

Harv said that being Scoutmaster was a very demanding but very rewarding job. Now 5 years later I have to say that Harv was right. Being Scoutmaster is demanding in terms of time, patience and endurance. It was demanding the year the temperature overnight at the Klondike derby got down to -7 degrees inside the Troop shelter. It was demanding when the shelter collapsed during a quasi-hurricane at Camp Bunn. Some phrases will always echo in my memory, "Does everyone have all of his equipment","I left (fill in object here) in my parents (fill in location such as car, garage, kitchen table)","Knock that off before someone gets hurt," and "The first aid kit is in the front of the trailer."

But I have been more than compensated by watching the young boys that enter Troop 97 mature into young men as the leave Troop 97. It is more than watching them tie knots, or right an overturned canoe, or cook in a Dutch oven. It is watching them conquer their fear the first time they rappel down a cliff. It is going through the white water with them the first time, then listening to the scouts talk about how it wasn't that scare after we're back at camp. It is battening the camp down ahead of a thunderstorm and then setting the shelter back up when it collapsed during the storm. It is watching them grow from young scouts just learning their outdoor skills to older scouts teaching those skills to a group of new scouts. It is about watching these young men grow physically, mentally and emotionally. It is about watching character develop.

Lord Baden_Powell said, "Scouting is a game with a purpose." Every troop has its own personality and its own approach to the game of scouting. In Troop 97 that approach has been to challenge the Scouts to run their own Troop and to present them with weekend outings and high adventure experiences that would build self-confidence by overcoming physical and mental obstacles. We have done any number of activities which are considerably more intense than many troops experience. We have rappelled, climbed, spelunked, white watered, swum in icy mountain pools fed by Smoky Mountain waterfalls, and camped in sub-zero weather. We have even gone whale watching 20 miles out in the Atlantic. All of these trips are part of the scouting game that is \ Troop 97.

In leader training we are told the scouting game is just the hook we use to accomplish the purpose of scouting. That purpose is more than teaching outdoor skills and earning merit badges. We are in Scouting to teach leadership and hopefully to inspire good character in the Scouts. Based on what I have seen from the Scouts of Troop 97 I believe the Troop has succeeded and will continue to succeed in that task.

Harv Koplo / Scoutmaster 1997-2001

When we decided to start a new scout troop in 1997, I had no idea how much it would change and enhance my life. A group of us came from another troop to start Troop 97. In the old troop, we went on great rappelling and cycling trips and had a good time. However, there was something missing. Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting, developed the patrol method to get youth to work as a team to solve problems together - and we wanted to have a boy-run troop that used the patrol method. The joke at my Wood Badge (adult) training was that the adults existed simply to drive the cars! I learned to think that anytime an adult did something in the troop, we should consider whether that adult was cheating youth by stealing their job and robbing them of the experience.

So in 1997 we started Troop 97 - a unique troop focused on teaching leadership and life skills not just woodcraft. We worked at guiding the boys to truly run the troop and their patrols on their own - despite their inevitable mistakes. We raised money and purchased patrol equipment so they could camp separately by patrol. Along the way, we recognized that if the youth did not have fun, they would leave. So in spite of the chaos of a boy-run troop, we made sure that the campouts and meetings were fun for all. . . and as the saying goes "create a good program and the kids will come". And they surely did...

We recognized that to have a great troop, and for the Scouts to get the most out of the program, we needed adult involvement. There were times over the last 10 years when we had as many adults signed up as youth. The adults had a lot of fun too. We made sure to feed them well ...and we all grew together with the troop. Now, ten years later, we have seen many wonderful kids come through the program. Some became Eagle Scouts, and some did not -- but Scouts from Troop 97 have grown up, gotten married, gone to war, and yes, even passed on from this life. They have all learned from their experience, and even those who were in the troop only a short time will tell you that it made some difference in their lives. I know it has made quite a difference in mine...