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Troop 79 Eagle Project Update

Our Scouts have shown tremendous resilience and resourcefulness throughout the challenges of 2020, continuing right into the new year. See below for an Eagle project organized by Life Scout James B. intended to help his beneficiary prevent the spread of sickness at the school. Not even extreme cold will keep these guys from finishing their work!

“Thank you to those who came to my Eagle Project last Saturday. The sneeze guards that you assembled were delivered Tuesday to 2 classrooms. During the week, I finished trimming the letters with paint. On Friday with the help of Andrew and my parents, I installed the letters onto the fence in the warm temperature (sub zero windchill).
I appreciated all of your support on a cold wintery day before CPS finals. 
YiS, James”

[PHOTO] Eagle project @JamesB

Troop 79 Loses a Family Member

Normally this page hosts updates on Scout achievements and trip reports. Today we pause to remember an important person who’s no longer with us.

We knew Mr. Nitzsche as an Assistant Scoutmaster who served Troop 79 for several years. We also saw him as a dad to T-79 Scouts Jake and Kyle. Many of the troop’s adults also considered him a friend.

An Eagle Scout himself, Mr. Nitzsche had been involved in Scouting most of his life. Our fond memories include his warm smile and easy laugh as he joined us on many hiking, camping and canoeing trips. He was with us at Owasippe, on high adventure treks and monthly overnights.

Mr. Nitzsche’s death shocked all who knew him. Nobody goes to work imagining it could be their last day alive. He leaves a wife and daughter in addition to his two sons. A fund has been setup to accept donations to assist the family.

On behalf of Troop 79, we offer our condolences to the family. We consider ourselves incredibly fortunate to have known Mr. Nitzsche, and are grateful for his contributions to the troop and Scouting.

[PHOTOS] Philmont, Northern Tier @BSA, Owasippe, Kettle Moraine @DKeats

Troop 79’s Fall 2020 Socially Distant Court of Honor

It’s a long standing tradition at Troop 79 to hold a Court of Honor shortly after the start of the school year. The meeting fills several important missions, including recognizing individual Scouts’ advancement and new leadership positions in front of parents and siblings. It’s also been a terrific opportunity to share photos and stories from the past summer’s camp and high adventure.

It goes without saying by now that pretty much everything about 2020 has had to be adapted to COVID restrictions, including celebrating as a group. How can we safely host several dozen Scouts, adult advisors and their families? And with indoor gathering not recommended, where do we hold such an event?

The answer, it turned out, was a forest preserve shelter, thanks to Cook County. Unfortunately our usual multi-media show was a no-show, but with the help of a battery powered mic and amp, mask-muffled voices could be heard. Emcees and Communications Merit Badge candidates Davu S. and James B. kicked off the meeting, with awards and advancement presented by Mr. Barich and Mr. Keats, assisted by SPL Andrew B. and ASPL Geoffrey B. Elbow bumps replaced the traditional Scout handshake, but otherwise the pomp and circumstance proceeded as usual.

Despite no summer camp at Owasippe, the troop held two high adventure trips for older Scouts. Stories of both the Summit and Alaska adventures were shared, hopefully whetting the outdoor appetites for next year’s trek to the Boundary Waters in Minnesota.

In closing, the adult leadership of Troop 79 is grateful for the families that support our activities. The annual Court of Honor is way to share that gratitude in person, and demonstrate just how much our Scouts accomplish in the few short months in between. And considering how disruptive the COVID pandemic has been to so many facets of daily life, it’s impressive how adaptable and resilient our Scouts have been. Hike on!

Member of our Google group? Click here for more photos.

[PHOTOS] Fall CoH @KBui

Troop 79 is Back!

For the start of the school year, that is. Considering what an unusual spring and summer 2020 has brought, it was refreshing to get together again in person for our first “regular” meeting. Typical except for meeting outdoors and everyone wearing masks…

Newly elected SPL Andrew B. and ASPL Geoffrey B. welcomed the Scouts and led a traditional opening flag ceremony. Mr. Keats then held his Scoutmaster minute, introducing Oscar and Carter who joined from Cub Scout Pack 3822, and filling everyone in on the upcoming weekend campout to the Indiana Dunes.

Next it was time to hold the annual Scout-led elections, where positions like Patrol Leader, Quartermaster, Trainer and more were up for grabs. So many qualified and interested candidates! Congratulations to the winners – they’re all now official members of the Patrol Leader’s Council.

Finally, the meeting wrapped up with a game of Sleeping Pirate, a Troop 79 tradition. In case you’re unfamiliar, the object is to silently sneak off with a set of keys laying under the chair of a Scout who’s “sleeping”. And that’s it – until we meet again in the dunes of Indiana!

[PHOTO] Troop meeting @boylesfour

Troop 79 Alum Achieves OA‘s Highest Honor

It’s always exciting to hear from past members of Troop 79 who have kept Scouting in their lives. As our Scoutmaster Mr. Keats is fond of saying, the Eagle ceremony isn’t a retirement party! Read on to hear what’s up with past SPL Elijah Greiner.

“When I first joined scouting as a Webelos Scout, I probably wouldn’t have imagined that I would still be involved with the program eleven years later at age 20. 

I definitely enjoyed my time in Cub Scouts, but it was not until fifth grade, when I joined Troop 79, that I began to realize how much more there was to scouting than what Cub Scouts had to offer. My Cub Scout pack didn’t “feed” into any Scout troop, so — at the time — earning the Arrow of Light felt more like the denouement of my scouting career than the first step down a trail that would eventually lead me through the Sangre De Cristo Mountains, the wilderness of Canada, and so many other adventures along the way! 

I was left, then, to seek out a Scout troop on my own. It was intimidating. Many of the boys were much older than me and I knew nobody at first, but continuing scouting beyond Cub Scouts was the best decision of my life! The years went by, I learned new skills, grew more confident from my experience, had a blast at Camp Blackhawk each summer, and somewhere along the line was elected into the Order of the Arrow: scouting’s “Brotherhood of Cheerful Service”.

Active service in the OA was never high on my interests. I loved scouting for the carefree romps through the woods on weekend campouts and the grand adventures at Northern Tier, Okpik, Philmont, and Sea Base. I had no interest in such formal events as OA chapter elections, winter banquets, or section conclaves. Maybe I never knew what I was missing. 

As a member of the OA, however, I also was contacted to assist in crossover ceremonies for Cub Scouts receiving their Arrow of Light award, with an emphasis on the transition from Webelos to Scouts. It was at these events that my passion for scouting — or, more specifically, not wanting any Cub Scout to lose interest before discovering what scouting really has to offer — met with my interest in storytelling before large groups.

I volunteered for every crossover ceremony I could attend, which I performed alongside other Troop 79 Scouts. After doing it enough, I inevitably learned the lines for each role. So, when I couldn’t find anybody to join me to perform at a Blue and Gold Banquet in 2017, I performed the whole ceremony solo (taking my own liberties to make the four parts cohesive). When I staffed at Camp Blackhawk in 2018, my practice at crossover ceremonies made me an integral member of the OA ceremonialist team there. 

At the time, I hardly imagined that my enthusiasm and dedication to performing these solemn rites-of-passage would earn me nomination to Vigil, the highest distinction of scouting’s National Honor Society. After all, I scarcely involved myself in OA business outside of the ceremonies. But — as time continues to prove — the more you put into scouting, the more you get out of it. As an Eagle Scout, seasonal employee of the BSA, and now a Vigil member of the Order of the Arrow, I can attest that scouting continues to be a gift that keeps on giving.”

Troop 79’s High Adventure, Part Two

As the year 2020 kicked off, Troop 79 was eagerly awaiting the end of school that marked the start of a fun-filled summer – camp in Michigan and high adventure like The Summit Experience at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia.  But as we all know, 2020 has been nothing but unpredictable.  As we neared closer to the date of departure, we were met with a stringent set of health checks and requirements designed to make sure that everyone stayed safe, but had a fun experience at camp.  The crew ended up being comprised of three scouts and two adults – Daniel, Sawyer, Nicholas, Mr. Falkner and Mr. Schnee.  Our small crew size didn’t diminish our enthusiasm to make it an enjoyable time though.  Paired with a great troop from Memphis, Tennessee (Troop 197), we set out each day, masked up, full canteens and looking for fun.  Each Day looked to outdo each other as the best day at Summit.

Day One led the excitement with rain and a service project!  A Scout is Helpful!  Helping to clear woods and build trails on the far side of Summit was strenuous work in the backwoods of the Appalachians, but quite rewarding as we saw the fruits of our labor at the end.  Plus, the general thought was to get the hard work out of the way early in the week to set up a full week of fun.  The afternoon brought just that – whitewater rafting on the Lower Keeney Rapids of the New River Gorge!  Just the thing after a hard day’s work on the trail.  Our small crew size paid off by us being paired with the best guide on the river (Justin aka “Motorboat”) in the smaller and faster boat than our sister troop.  With this great setup, we were able to tackle rapids from Class 2 all the way up to Class 5.  Although we were shaken up a bit at points, we all made it through unscathed and a bit more confident out on the water.  We even tackled some of the rapids out of the boat, in the water!

Day Two had a hard act to follow from the previous day’s events.  But it proved up to the challenge.  As everyone knows in the Scouts, it’s not worth it unless you hike there.  Summit does not disappoint in this respect.  Everywhere you go, you walk.  Take lots of water, lace up your boots and head out.  Our second day of events consisted of rock climbing and rappelling.  Sawyer proved himself the star of this event, easily scampering up the rock courses with his nimble arms and legs.  Everyone succeeded in their endeavours at the wall, no matter their skill level.  What do you do after climbing the rocks?  Rappel back down – on a different tower.  This included traditional rappelling on the wall, but also a confidence jump.  This meant you were tethered to a pulley and harness, but you jumped off the platform to be lowered to the ground gradually by gravity.  It took some nerve to willingly jump off of a platform 30 feet in the air.

In the afternoon, we hiked over to the Canopy course for some fun in the trees.  The canopy course was a lesson in navigating the zip lines up in the trees and learning how to fly from tree to tree, but stop before you slammed into the far tree or worse, the staff member waving for you to slow down.  This was a fun challenge and gave us a preview of what to expect on the Big Zip. After a fun day on the ropes, everyone was eager to head back to base camp and relax.

Day Three proved a step up from Day Two.  On deck were The Big Zip, Ropes course and Mountain Biking! The Big Zip is a 3,500 foot long, 400 foot drop zip line from the top of the hill, over a lake to the platform below, all at over 40 mph.  This was a lot of fun and worthy of a second run, but then you would have to hike to the top of the mountain again.  Next trip.  The Ropes Course was a challenge course up in the trees and was quite the challenge for adults and Scout alike.  The adults certainly paid for their youthful tries later that night.  Mountain Biking proved every bit the challenge with the endless hills and rough terrain, but the views of the Reserve from the vistas were worth it.

Day Four offered up a day at the ranges – shotgun, rifles, pistols and archery.  After a safety briefing, the crew stepped to the line to try their hand at clay pigeon shooting with 12 ga shotguns. Although newbies, everyone scored a hit with what appeared to be ease.  Nicholas, Sawyer and Daniel mastered the pistol and rifle ranges as well, with little instruction.  No matter the caliber – 12 ga, .22 pistols or rifles or .223 rifles – all were great shots!  Archery ended up being rained out, but this offered up a great afternoon lesson in breaking down the firearms and lessons on safety and cleanliness.  A great Scout lesson.  The boys learned how to break down the shotguns and rifles and safely reassemble them.  Arguably the highlight of the day.

Day Five was the last day at camp, but was not to be outdone by the rest, including skateboarding and BMX bikes.  The boys took the challenge to brush up their skills at the skate park and tackle the concrete jungle of Summit.  Everyone came out in one piece, so it was deemed a success.  The BMX course was the last, but not least event of Summit.  The boys and Mr. Falkner got some good fundamental training on maneuvering the hills, dips and turns of the dirt course, then hit the track.  This proved to be quite the fun event with endless runs on the various tracks. 

Summit definitely didn’t disappoint and lived up to the High Adventure spirit of Scouting.  At the end of an eventful week, the crew looked back and determined it was the best it could have been, even with the pandemic trying its hardest.  Everyone tested their personal limits, came away scraped, sore and bit bruised, but were beaming from ear to ear on the drive home.  Someday Troop 79 will return to Summit, a new crew, but eager to conquer again.

YIS, the Summit 2020 Crew – Daniel, Sawyer, Nicholas with Mr. Falkner and Mr. Schnee

[PHOTOS] Summit Experience @ B. Schnee and G. Falkner

Troop 79 Hosts a Socially Distant Social

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By now you know what we mean – family groups generally six feet apart, face coverings and plenty of hand sanitizer. Just your typical summer cookout, covid-style. It was the first time the troop members had gathered in person since late winter. Refreshing to catch up with each other in 3D instead of staring at a little screen.

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Besides providing some traditional cookout fare and desperately needed socializing, the event also served up our annual changing of the guard. In other words, SPL Colin G. and ASPL Oscar S. swore in their successors, Andrew B. and Geoffrey B. It was a little hard to hear the exchange, muffled as they were, but it appears we have new leadership in charge.

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Formalities and precautions aside, it was terrific to see Scouts, parents and even a pet enjoying a warm summer evening in the city. Thanks to the PLC and Mr. Barich for organizing! Let’s hope we can all get together again in person this fall.

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Member of our Google group? Click here for more photos.

[PHOTOS] Summer cookout @boylesfour @abui

2019’s “Eagle X” (minus 1) Reunited

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Regular followers of Troop 79 legend will remember the ten Scouts that graduated high school last year. They left us with many shared stories, all having achieved the rank of Eagle. Not content to leave all that in the past, 9/10 of the class got together this past weekend to camp! As reported by Edward Boyle.

”COVID 19 has put a major halt on most plans, and for many of us college students, that has created large amounts of uncertainty. Last year, a few Troop 79 alumni planned a camp out for a weekend at the Indiana Dunes. This year, that group, AKA Eagle X, pulled together and planned a social distant outdoor event.

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This plan to camp at Warren Dunes came to be through the dedication of a few homebound graduated Eagle Scouts. With the aid of online communication and expert planning skills, the group came together to enjoy a lovely weekend in the outdoors. Supplied with enough firewood, hope, and taco fixings, we were ready.

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We soon realized our socially deprived selves were in for a treat. We got to our campsite without a hitch (except circling for a bit), and kicked our camp set-up skills into gear. Soon after many attempts to pitch a house-sized tent finally resulted in success, we hit the trail and took a familiar walk through the sandy forest.

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Keeping a friendly distance on trail, we meandered among the lush greens and fallen trees. After a quick ascent up the dark side of the dune, we emerged atop the sandy and sunny scene. Wildflowers, grasses, and beach-loving trees filled our periphery, with “a big puddle” on the downslope side. Our march continued till we hit the lake, and there we spent our afternoon.

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Once the realization kicked in we needed to make dinner, we gathered our reluctant selves to get back to base and begin the prep for a delicious meal. Armed with a bag of taco seasoning, 4 pounds of chicken, a few tomatoes, 5 limes, a jalapeno, yellow onion, 60 corn tortillas, and some mysterious vegetarian supplement, we produced a meal to feed an army. For the remainder of the evening, we shared laughter and familiar songs from Owasippe around a bright fire.

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All in all, I have to thank those involved in the smart planning that made this possible, and the followthrough of us Eagles to reconnect safely. Despite the hardships we all have been facing, the “bonds of friendship seal our loyalty” forever. So here’s a big thank you to the Troop that brought us all together in the first place, allowing us to build these lifelong friendships and memories.”

[PHOTOS] Dunes camping @W Gardner, @E Boyle

The Virus Can’t Ground an Eagle

As our regular readers know, the capstone of a Scout’s journey to the Eagle rank is to complete a service project that benefits the local community. Normally that entails a significant challenge – selecting an idea, writing up a proposal and getting it approved. That’s before anyone shows up to help!

This summer has been extra challenging for many families here in Chicago and around the country dealing with virus-related changes. That also impacted Scouts planning and carrying out their Eagle projects. But at least one member of Troop 79 managed to complete his. Read on for Oscar’s summary below:

I would like to give a big “thank you” to everyone who showed up to help complete my service project this weekend. Despite the heat, masks, and hiccups along the way, we were able to complete all six stands for Old St. Mary’s (and they look great!). I want to give a specific shoutout to the following people:
Colin G.
Sawyer M.
Chris C.
Max F.
Mr. Fischer
James K.
Colin N.
Davu H.
John Paul P.
Mr. Martin
Brady M.
Again, I really appreciate you guys volunteering, as well as your hard work.

Oscar S.

[PHOTOS] Eagle project @Oscar S

Troop 79 Goes Virtual

By now everyone’s well aware of the need to keep a safe distance from others to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. The official guidance from our local council is to cancel all meetings or events with more than 10 participants. Unfortunately, that put our in-person Troop and Patrol Leader Council (PLC) meetings on hold.

Thanks to some quick thinking, the PLC met virtually this week. After getting familiar with the software, the main topic was pretty simple – what would a digital troop meeting look like? It’s not like we’ve ever done this before.

A number of ideas were floated – from playing online games to hosting merit badge instruction. The PLC also considered how to hold Scoutmaster conferences and boards of review using virtual breakouts while still living up to our two deep leadership standards.

The meeting ended with agreement to give this new format a try! We’d hate to let Scouting lapse while everyone’s sequestered at home. And when this all passes, we’ll be able to pick up mostly where we left off. In the meantime, stay healthy everyone!

[PHOTOS] virtual PLC @B Greiner, M Fischer

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