Boy Scouts of America, Troop 907

 

Troop 907 is an adventure-loving group of young men, taking the opportunity to grow in the shadows of great men...fathers and mentors.

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Troop 907 – Troop Building at First Christian Church – 1507 Glendale Blvd - Valparaiso


Meets most Mondays at 7:30 p.m.
Scoutmaster: Dave Czekaj
(219) 241-5465

Troop 907 News

 

     Our spring Pork Chop Dinner Fundraiser will be  April 9th from 4-7 PM at the church, catered once again by Birky’s.  Our fundraisers help fund troop activities, including summer camp and other trips.  Please help the boys and enjoy an amazing meal. You are welcome to dine in or carry out.

 

      Prior to the pork chop dinner, at 1:00 PM, we’ll be holding an Eagle Scout ceremony for  Chuck Vamos.  Congratulations to Chuck for his dedication to Scouting!                  

 

History

From the early years, three churches—First Presbyterian, First Methodist, and First Christian— sponsored a single Boy Scout troop in Valparaiso.  The troop was chartered at the church where the scoutmaster was a member. Thus, Troop 906 (from First United Methodist Church) is a brother troop that arose from the same foundation as Troop 7, formerly Troop 907.

 

The limited records still available show that the church sponsored a Boy Scout troop in 1923, when Brother Wheeler was asked by the church board to take charge of the program.  In 1924, the board approved the use of the Bogarte Room for the scout troop.  In May 1928, Brother Robert Wheeler asked the church board for permission for the Scouts to care for the corner lot.  The Kiwanis Club was offering a $40 prize to the local troops for beautifying a town lot.  On May 6, 1929, Brother Wheeler reported to the church board that a request from the scoutmaster had been made to allow the American Legion to become the troop’s sponsor by transfer.  Brother N.H. Sheppard reported that the Scout Commissioner C.B. Sanford earnestly requested that the church approve a transfer of Troop 7 to the American Legion.  This action was seconded by Brother Bledsoe and the board approved the transfer.

 

It appears that the church did not sponsor a troop from May 22, 1929, when the board approved the transfer to the American Legion, until December 5, 1932.   During this time, the church records contained mentions of troop activities. In March 1930, the Benham Class decided to sponsor both a Boy Scout troop and Girl Scout troop at First Christian Church.  Mr. Wheeler presented a plan for providing space within the church building for both the Boy and Girl Scouts.  The details are no longer available as to what his plan was.  It is assumed that it was the basement space created in 1931-1932.

 

In February 1931, the Vidette Messenger reported that Troop 7 sponsored a father and son dinner at the church for all of the Boy Scout troops in Valparaiso.  The evening included a talk by Rev. Donald C. Ford of Michigan City on his previous occupation as an engineer, a roast of the “dads” presented by Mr. Graham, and a triple-reel moving picture on the rubber industry.  The churchwomen prepared the meal, and the senior high girls served the tables.  All other information from this time indicates that the church did not have its own troop yet; thus, Troop 7 must have been sponsored by one of the partner churches (Methodist or Presbyterian) at this time, with the Christian Church hosting only this father and son event.

 

On April 6, 1931, a notice showed that Brother Wheeler and the Benham Class were looking for scout quarters to be built in the church. Brothers Bledsoe and Sheppard did find space, and the board approved the Benham Class to complete the work as proposed.  On April 8, the Benham Class assembled in the basement, and Mrs. Benham turned the first shovel of dirt to construct a scout room. Work continued on construction of the space through April 1933.  The space appears to have been in the basement of the education annex.  The Benham Class provided a stove for the scout room in June 1935, along with additional financial support for uniforms, camp costs, and equipment needs.

 

Records from May 22, 1932 indicated that Brother Larson had returned and extended an offer to work with the scouts.  This event was clarified in December, when Rev. Smail reported that the scouts were “getting started” again, with Brothers Wheeler, Townsley, and Jones in charge.

 

By June 1, 1933, the troop appeared to be active, as Rev. Smail was seeking adults to chaperone a week at the River Camp. In 1934, the Benham Class served a dinner for the Boy Scouts of the church in February, which is now Boy Scouting month!  Has the church has scout dinners since then? Or was this a unique event for the time? We have no information to confirm either idea. 

 

The LaSalle Council Scout office in South Bend indicated that the present troop (907) has been continuously chartered at First Christian Church since 1942.  Boys and adult leaders from the troop have been at all National Scout Jamborees since 1950 and World Jamborees since 1967. By the year 2011, 506 boys have participated in the scouting program through Troop 7 since 1968. 

 

In September 1957, Mr. Eckert (Willard) reported to the church board that Martin Zimmerman would become the new scoutmaster and that Mr. Biggs would take over the Post. Could this be an Explorer Post?  No other records have been found (yet) that identify an Explorer Post sponsored by the Christian Church.  In 1958, the board approved purchase of a troop flag.  The next year (1959), the board approved renovations to the scout room; these upgrades were to be completed by the “Home Builders’ Class” and were not to exceed $700. 


In 1973 and 1974, the board approved the proposal for the troop to partition the basement’s northwest corner and to create a permanent meeting room.  They furnished their own materials and labor.  The exterior of the room was paneled with oak to match the rest of the basement’s oak finishing.

 

The troop built its own building in 1991 and has become significantly more independent of the facility support by the church.  It continues to provide a tremendous witness for Christ and to guide young men into productive and Christ loving ways. In recent years, the percentage of boys who have no religious affiliation remains at 11%. Many of those have participated in religious activities through scouting.

 

During the 1991 construction of the scout building, the boys put together a time capsule in celebration of the troop’s 50 years of continued existence. The capsule was buried at the southwest corner of the building with plans to open it in 2041 on the 100th anniversary.  At the time of the capsule burial, the troop was half way finished with its construction project.  Since leaving 7 Chicago Street, the troop was meeting at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School.  By June 1991, the troop had raised $13,000 toward construction and would have the remaining $3,000 (total $16,000) needed by July.  An additional $9,000 was being sought to complete the inside work and to furnish the building. [1]

 

The Troop continues to offer a strong program.  A member of Troop 907 has attended every National Boy Scout Jamboree since its creation.  Members have attended five World Jamborees, including those held in the United States (Idaho), Japan, Norway, Sweden, Canada and Australia.  Annually, the troop provides “high adventure” opportunities for the boys at either the BSA SeaBase in Florida, a Canoe Base in Minnesota, or the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico.[2]

 

Scout records indicate that Martin Zimmerman was scoutmaster until February 1968, when William Eckert assumed the position. Activities and the involvement of the young men have been a high priority. Troop 7 has a unique program in that it maintains the interest of young men through their high school years. Thus, the number of boys who attain the Eagle Award (87 scouts) is much higher (17%) than the national average (2%). Most of this success can be attributed to the program and the responsibility that is given to the young men. 

 

[1] Don’t open ‘til 2041; Porter County, Buyers’ Guide, Vol. 3 Edition 35; A Vidette-Messenger Pub; June 19, 1991.

[2] Information from Scoutmaster William Eckert, Spring 2012.

Pictures:

Atop a peak at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico

 

Hawk night in the Troop Building

 

Family Night, celebrating Scout Month in February.