ST. CHARLES – One of the oldest Boy Scout troops in the country is celebrating a century of community service and Scouting this weekend in St. Charles.
Founded in 1913, the St. Charles-based Boy Scout Troop One still is thriving 100 years later, said Chris Jensen, assistant scoutmaster for Troop One. He said the landmark anniversary feels surreal.
“Not too many organizations can say they’ve been around that long,” he said. “It’s quite a legacy.”
The troop is inviting the public and former and current members to celebrate from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Hickory Knolls Discovery Center, 3795 Campton Hills Road, St. Charles. They’re encouraging former members to bring troop memorabilia, and will be sharing historic photos from the troop’s early days.
The troop was founded by Karl Apslund three years after Boy Scouts of America was chartered in 1910.
While many troops at the time were affiliated with a church, historic records show that Apslund wanted boys of all faiths to be able to participate. By 1934, Troop One was chartered to American Legion Post 342 in St. Charles and still is affiliated with the legion today.
Jensen said about seven or eight years ago, the troop’s membership dipped to only a handful of Scouts. That period was followed by a big push to replenish membership so the troop wouldn’t “fade away,” Jensen said. He said the push resulted in a “huge infusion” of Scouts, many of whom later became active leaders. Today, Troop One has more than 60 members.
The troop’s longevity is attributed partially to luck, Jensen said, but also to the commitment of the Scouts. He said the troop is led mainly by the Scouts with the help of the leaders; not the other way around. That kind of commitment has given the Scouts a feeling of ownership, and many continue to serve the troop as leaders.
“When you turn 18, you’re either done with Scouting or you become an adult leader,” he said. “The number of kids that have come back to the troop to be adult leaders as young men, not necessarily having kids [in Scouts], I think is representative of a strong commitment, and liking the troop a lot and their experience.”