A downtown Boy Scout troop is celebrating its 100th year of continuous operation.
Boy Scout Troop 33 was founded in 1918 at the Westminster Presbyterian Church downtown and has existed in every year since. The group is getting ready to host its fall kickoff on Aug. 19 at the church, which charters and sponsors the troop.
About 75 boys participate in the troop and its affiliated Cub Scout pack, said Mike Hess, who is the pack’s adult leader. He said the troop is unique in that the boys are responsible for leading the programming and the camping trips.
“We’ve always pushed it being a boy-led program,” Hess said. “The kids really are responsible for their own success or failures.”
Troop 33 was founded in 1918 by an attorney for the Minnesota Loan and Trust Company, according to a history compiled by former troop member Ty Lilja. The troop acquired a lakeside campsite in Wyoming, Minnesota, around 1930, according to Lilja’s history, and has held summer camps there in the years since.
Nearly 2,500 boys have participated in the troop and/or the pack over the past 100 years, Hess said. About 325, or over 10 percent, have earned the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest achievement a Boy Scout can earn.
The scouts participate in activities such as camping trips and service projects, meeting weekly during the school year and taking monthly camping trips. They earn “merit badges” to advance through the program by completing different activities.
Each June, the boys plan a summer trip to a spot of their choosing. Past trips have included canoeing on the Missouri River, a 100-mile bike ride in northern Minnesota and sightseeing in New York City and the East Coast.
The boys divide into smaller “patrols” within the larger troop, with an older boy in charge of each. The patrols are responsible for preparing their own meals, including purchasing the supplies for them, when they go on their camping trips, Hess said.
Westminster also sponsors a troop for boys in the Hmong community, which former Troop 33 Scoutmaster Dave Moore started in the early ‘80s. Boys from that troop and Troop 33 take a camping trip together each year and spend time at summer camp together.
Rising Troop 33 senior Connor Arneson has been in the troop since sixth grade and served as its senior patrol leader two years ago. He said he has learned leadership skills by being a part of the troop, noting the responsibility the scouts have in preparing and executing their own camping trips.
“When you’re in charge of 45 kids for 10 weekends a year, plus a whole week for a June trip, you have to learn how to manage a lot of moving parts,” he said.
Arneson said he’s made a lot of really good friends through scouting whom he otherwise wouldn’t have met. He added that he’s been to a lot of cool places because of the troop’s annual summer trips and has gained leadership skills by working at the troop’s summer camp.
Kids in the troop come from all across Minneapolis and its first-ring suburbs, Hess said, though most of the troop comes from south, Southwest and Northeast Minneapolis. Anyone is welcome to attend the troop’s summer camp, even those kids not enrolled in scouting. The camp holds two, two-week summer sessions for girls and boys each year.
Troop 33 is open for boys between the ages of 11 and 18 who have completed fifth grade. The pack is open for kids between age 5 and fourth grade. The pack will have girls in it for the first time this year, after the decision by the national Boy Scouts of America to allow girls into the program.
IF YOU GO:
Boy Scout Troop 33/Cub Scout Pack 33 2018-19 kickoff
When: 3:30 p.m. Aug. 19
Where: Westminster Presbyterian Church (1200 Marquette Ave. S.)