SUGAR GROVE – In 1949, Harry S. Truman was president of the United States and the village of Sugar Grove wasn’t incorporated.
A lot certainly has changed in the past 70 years, but one thing that has remained a constant is the Boy Scouts of America Troop 41 in Sugar Grove, which was founded in 1949.
“I think scouting is still the same,” said Dave Seraphin, chaplain and former scoutmaster. “The same values we picked up many years ago, these new Scouts do, too. Boyhood has not changed. The boys are still the same as they were 30 years ago. A boy is a boy is a boy. He’s fun to work with. He goofs around. He gets very serious. They do the same pranks today that they did way back then.”
Troop 41 has recognized its wonderful, long history with a few special 70th anniversary events already this year, including fireside chats in April and May at the Sugar Grove Historical Society and most recently a Family Potluck Indoor Picnic at the Sugar Grove Township Community Building on June 9.
“It’s been a wonderful thing,” said Jim Fox, current scoutmaster of Troop 41. “We were filled from wall to wall here, and some of the gentlemen that were here had never met before. It just goes to show that Troop 41 isn’t just who you see here every Tuesday night, it goes back much further than that.”
And even if you go back to Troop 41’s humble beginnings, you can see things that remain today.
“Our scoutmasters were always concerned for us,” said Dave Frantz, a Scout from 1959 to 1963. “There may be differences in scouting today than there was when we were younger, but one of the things was, and still is, that scoutmasters and adults involved in scouting will be there for you. We never lost any boys. You were never by yourself. We always had a good time. We did a lot of first-aid training, but we never had to use it on each other.”
Former Troop 41 Scouts reflected on the impact it has made in their lives. The group includes Doug Musser, highway commissioner of the township of Sugar Grove, who became an Eagle Scout in 1974.
“Scouting gave me the confidence to do other things, other challenges,” he said. “I was never afraid to try anything. I still have my Scout book, and I still look at it if I have a question.”
Rick Johnson, a Scout from 1959 to 1961 and president of the Sugar Grove Historical Society, said he’s interested in the values that others have brought and passed down to him.
“For me personally, I’ve always been shy,” he said. “Learning about my family’s history as well as being in scouting and interacting with other kids my age and adults helped me mature. It came at just the right time for me.”
Clif Frantz, a Scout from 1953 to 1958 whose father, Groff, helped start Troop 41, said his memories remain so vivid because when you grew up in Sugar Grove in the 1950s you had to find the fun for yourself.
“There wasn’t a movie theater within miles,” he said. “The nearest one was in Aurora. You couldn’t get a fountain Coke. There was no entertainment whatsoever. But fun was free, and you provided it for yourself.”
His younger brother, Dave Frantz, said that most of today’s kids probably aren’t experiencing that kind of fun any longer.
“I wish the young people today in Sugar Grove could have the same pleasure we had as kids,” he said. “Talking about how it affected you and your life, I think it helps kids to have a standard.
“I always preach to me kids, well that’s what they tell me, that there is a right way to do things and there is a wrong way. When you do things the wrong way, it will usually come back to you. If you do things the right way, your life will be good. That’s basically being a Scout, doing things the right way.”
And any reminiscing about being a Scout isn’t fully honest without camping tales and other adventures, as well as misadventures.
“I remember one time after a Scout meeting in the Community House, I broke my arm right there,” said Bill Lye, a Scout from 1952 to 1958. “Before they put the ceiling tiles up downstairs, there were pipes up there. I climbed up on a table and jumped off and grabbed a pipe. I was swinging on it and then fell and broke my arm. About a month or so later after it healed, someone asked me, ‘How’d you break your arm?’ So I said, ‘Let me show you.’ I got up on the table, jumped up and grabbed a pipe and then I fell and broke my arm again!”
Clif Frantz recalled an old swimming hole in Bliss Woods.
“When we were about 8 or 9 years old and Sugar Grove had a population of only about 200 people, we used to ride our bikes down the middle of [Route] 47 to Bliss Woods to go swimming,” he said. “We’d swim all day long. There wasn’t an adult, a lifeguard, a life preserver or anything. No supervision whatsoever.”
Fond memories of camping and canoeing also were shared.
“I always enjoyed the Boundary Waters with the troop when we went up to northern Minnesota to go canoeing for a week,” said Mike Hauge, a Scout leader and father of Eagle Scout Mike Hauge (1999). “That’s been a highlight in my memories of Troop 41. It’s been a few years since we did that, and we are looking to perhaps do that again in the future.”
While Troop 41 Scouts from the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s probably didn’t think back then that someday they’d be celebrating such an anniversary with teens and pre-teen scouts a year before 2020, it showed the youngsters how much of an impact scouting can make in one’s life.
That included 11-year-old Jacob Rubo, who joined the Scouts only a few months ago.
“It’s been pretty cool to meet these older scouts and listen to them sharing all their memories with the younger scouts,” he said. “We’re actually a lot alike in many ways, which is cool. I’ve made a lot of new friends, so I’m happy to be a Scout.”
Many Scouts in Sugar Grove feel the exact same way.