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Scout troop celebrates history and success
Scout troop celebrates history and success
By SUE HOFFMAN
When Solon Boy Scout Troop 504 applied for its charter in April 1959, it had just five Scouts, including two that were sons of the Scoutmaster and the committee chairman.
The Scout troop grew to 17 members within two years, working up to some 50 members today. It also picked up speed on developing Eagle Scouts, the highest rank in Boy Scouts, according to Eagle Scout and troop advancement adviser Scott Strawn.
"It is a tribute to a Scouting program geared to a strong outdoor program that the troop has had 66 Eagle Scouts in the last 15 years after 15 Scouts earned the Eagle rank in the first 35 years," he said. The troop, which lost membership during the 1980s, "began to click under the leadership of Jay Mansbach and Bob Wittig in the early to mid-1990's, followed by Scoutmasters Mike Manion, Tim Holmes and now Herb Wilson," he said. "In addition, there are countless other parents who served on the troop committee.
"The support of the VFW is priceless," Mr. Strawn said about Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1863 in Bainbridge, which became the charter organization for the troop in 1981 and has provided the location of the troop's meetings and many Courts of Honor since that time. The first charter organization was Pioneer Memorial Presbyterian Church, when it was located at the present site of the Solon Historical Society.
The history and success of the troop were celebrated by 85 participants and 21 of the Troop's Eagle Scouts recently at a 50th anniversary reunion picnic at Timberlake Park in Bainbridge. Present were families that helped build the troop, along with current and past Scouts and Tom Bulanda, of the VFW.
Mr. Manion and Mr. Holmes gave their reflections as former Scoutmasters, and Mr. Manion also welcomed reunion participants and gave the history of the troop.
Mr. Holmes, Scoutmaster from 2001 to 2006, said what has helped the troop flourish are all the offerings.
"We're running the program the way the Boy Scouts program is supposed to be run," he said, with monthly campouts and high-adventure trips. "It's a boy-led troop" with boys doing the planning through their patrols," he said.
For Mr. Holmes, who is an Eagle Scout, involvement in the troop came naturally. "When I got here, my son became active and so did I." His son, Matt, now working for Ford Motor Co. in Dearborn, Mich., in computer information technology, became an Eagle Scout in 2005. Mr. Holmes continues to be involved in the troop and has led many Boy Scouts on expeditions to the Grand Canyon each spring.
Mr. Manion, who served as Scoutmaster from 1998 to 2000 after six years as Assistant Scoutmaster, saw his two sons become Eagle Scouts. He continues to act as the troop's history buff. "We weave history into interesting campfire tales," he said. When he was Scoutmaster, his wife, Michelle, said she was busy baking cookies for the troop, making signs and nurturing the boys.
The troop's Eagle Scouts have contributed to schools, fire departments, parks, churches and synagogues, and more, Mr. Manion said.
Each Scout at the reunion had the opportunity to provide an update on his life. The Scouts introduced their families, commented on current pursuits and goals and recalled a favorite Scouting memory.
Mr. Manion's son, T.J., who became an Eagle Scout in 1999, led the pledge of allegiance at the reunion. Reflecting on his years as a Scout, he said the troop taught the boys responsibility and accountability, but the best part was the camaraderie.
"It was a collection of guys who were completely comfortable with who we were," T.J. Manion, now married and an industrial designer living in Tallmadge, said. "We just had fun and learned a lot. At the end of the day, we had a blast."
"It was a fun experience," said Matt Newberry, of Solon and a troop member until he graduated from Solon High School in 1999. Now a validation engineer for Ben Venue Labs, he said the experience gave him "a love for the outdoors."
Outings and campouts are memorable, many Scouts agreed. They also recalled their progression to Eagle Scout.
Collin Griffiths, a sophomore at the Ohio State University and Eagle Scout since 2008, said he always will remember his high adventure outings at Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, N. M., sailing around the Florida Keys with the troop and expeditions to the Grand Tetons in Wyoming.
Ben Kalayjian, a University of Michigan graduate who just returned from a stint in Africa with the Peace Corps, came to the reunion with his father, Dr. Robert Kalayjian, who is also an Eagle Scout. For his Eagle Scout project, Ben said he worked with three other Scouts in revamping a long trail in the Metroparks South Chagrin Reservation.
Danny Caine, who finished his Eagle Scout project in 2000, just two days shy of his 14th birthday - four years before the deadline - reflected on the Boy Scout experience. Besides being "a very important moral compass throughout high school," Scouting "was important in interesting me in the outdoors. That's still my favorite part of Scouting," Mr. Caine, now an English teacher at Smithville High School in Wayne County, said. After three expeditions to Philmont, he returned to work there during summers throughout college.
"I liked the brotherhood," Danny's brother, Matt, a 2005 Eagle Scout, said. "I met a lot of new friends and continue to meet Eagles in college." He said eight members of his Phi Delta Theta chapter at Kent State University are Eagle Scouts. Majoring in interpersonal communications, he is attending the fire academy at Cuyahoga Community College this summer.
For the Caines, involvement in Scouting extends to the entire family. Their mother, Judy, said she became active when Danny was a Cub Scout in third grade. "I dragged 4-year-old Matt with me and the rest is history." Mrs. Caine has held several positions for the Greater Cleveland Council for the Boy Scouts, including her current post as vice president of membership.
Mrs. Caine's husband, Kevin, served as committee chairman of the troop for six years during his 15 years of involvement with the troop.
At the reunion, Mrs. Caine gave the invocation and council update, Danny Caine gave the Scout oath and Kevin Caine led the Philmont grace.
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