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Troop 79 and the Sea Scouts on Lake Michigan

What better way to kick off the Scouting season than with an overnight at 31st St. Harbor courtesy of the Chicago Sea Scouts! Besides our own Troop members, we also hosted about a dozen Chicago-area Webelos Scouts and their families to learn about T-79.

Our guests were treated to a cookout, games plus a tour of a working Coast Guard search and rescue boat.  But then it was time to hit the water for real. Between a 28′ Catalina sailboat and the Sea Scouts with their high-powered Boston Whaler, the Webelos seemed to have a great day out on beautiful Lake Michigan.

By late afternoon all the Webelos families had gone home, and will hopefully consider Troop 79 when the time comes to bridge over to Boy Scouts. Afterwards, most of our Scouts went for an early evening cruise, while others kayaked around the harbor.

What an experience, watching a beautiful sunset over the city skyline from the deck of yet another Sea Scout boat, then settling in for the night on a 40′ ketch; some on deck and some below.

The next morning it was time to pack up, eat breakfast and head home.  Not our typical camping experience, but that’s partly what made it so memorable!  Thanks again to the Sea Scouts and Mr. Keats for so generously including their fleet in the overnight.

Member of our Google Group?  Click here for more photos.
[PHOTO] Webelos sailing @boylesfour

September Outing – Sailing @ 31st Street Harbor

Troop 79 invites all Founders District Webelos Scouts to join our members at 31st Street Harbor on Chicago’s beautiful south shore on Saturday, September 15 from 12-4 PM.  Food, games and weather permitting, sailing aboard one of several vessels will be available.

More info in the flyer, including contact info to RSVP: Troop 79 Sea Scout Flyer Sept 2018

Many thanks to Tim Harrington and the generosity of the Chicago Sea Scouts!

Troop 79 High Adventure Double Header

Even though our Troop has plenty of activity during the school year, we typically plan a summertime trip geared towards our more experienced Scouts.  And while many Scout Troops journey to a BSA high adventure camp, Troop 79 planned for two in 2018, and both were successful!  Here are a few highlights from our trips to Summit and Northern Tier.

From Summit participant, George H:

“Troop 79 just finished our Summit Experience at Summit Bechtel Reserve/Christen High Adventure Base in West Virginia. Activities that we participated in included white water rafting, BMX, skateboarding, high ropes course, target sports, and climbing. While there was some rain and wind during our time at SBR, we were also fortunate enough to enjoy plenty of sunshine. In addition to normal activities, we also partook in the festivities of the Appalachian Celebration, where there was an abundance of sweet treats, games, a cooking contest, and a SBR branding station.

We would also like to thank our troop’s adult leaders, Mr. Chambliss and Mr. Huebner, and our Crew Leader, Andrew. Our Summit trip would not be possible without them!”

From Northern Tier crew member, Colin G:

“Crew B had an adventuresome and immersive week in the backcountry splendor of Charles L Sommers Northern Tier. From strong winds to still water, crystal clear lakes to sticky swamps, large leeches to rambunctious rock jumping; crew B did it all! Amidst the action the Scouts earned awards such as: Historic Trails, Duty to God, lake monitoring, and the 75 miler! Scouts also learned about the history of the Voyageurs, the native Ojibwa, and Dorthy Molter (the root beer lady). Overall a wonderful voyage and an amazing experience!”

And from our other crew, as reported by Mr. Nitzsche:

“The crew that Roger and I “advised” was led by returning NT veteran John P who apparently had something to prove now that he is 17 years old and 6 foot tall and can do push ups with me sitting on his back (maybe a slight exaggeration). Kyle, Jack, Oscar, Andrew and Jason joined John and our Interpreter/“guide” in planning our trek. Despite our “advisement” the Scout led crew agreed to a 100+ mile trek to places most staff had only heard of but never been “lucky” enough to go. In hindsight, I think it seems they were never able to talk a crew into going with them… Although we did not have our Canadian passports, John was able to share his experience from 3 years ago on his Canadian expedition as we paddled the border northwest of Ely. We traveled 30 miles our first day on the water including over 2 miles of portaging.

After reaching our destination on day three 52 miles away on Lac La Croix (the boys were hoping to get a can of flavored seltzer water), we enjoyed a wonderful day at a terrific campsite thinking that it was all downhill as we headed back with the wind to our back. We planned to take a nice river paddle back on day 4 down the Bear Trap river to a lake at the end of the river where we would arrive at our campsite by 3-4 pm with only a few labeled “low maintenance portages” to start the day. Well, we all quickly learned to very much dislike beavers as we found our first portage (before we got to the river) ended at a lake that had recently dried up because of a failed beaver dam resulting in a swamp walk with 50-80 pounds on our shoulders around and across a “damp” lake the size of a football field that had fallen trees throughout. We found it easier to pull the empty canoes through the muck and over the fallen trees than carry as we sunk in the muck up to our knees.

When we landed on dry land, we started our 3/4 mile portage to the next lake… After that we finally found the river, only to be disappointed again to find it was 2-3 feet low because of a beaver dam upstream. When a small river gets low it results in many many (in this case 6-8) unplanned portages that were just created a week ago by the first crew that could not canoe sections of river because the water was too low. These trails are not at all cleared and never maintained – only a path between trees that could not be walked through that typically included hiking through and over fallen trees, swamps and very steep inclines. Our last unplanned portage that day was in darkness with headlamps to lead us to the lake where our campsite and dinner await (it gets dark at 9:30-10 pm up here this time of year). At the end of day 4 we were all at our breaking point but all recovered nicely and all apologized to each other the next morning for our moments of irritability the night before.

After day four it was mostly really really wonderful with any rough spots seemingly “not so bad” as we remembered day 4. We had great camp sites, fishing, stars, moons and clear days and nights. Perfect weather most of trip, really – only one day (#2) of overcast and rains to paddle through. The last night at camp our fishermen caught a 30+ inch Northern Pike for an after dinner fish fry – great ending to a great adventure.

The Scouts were really amazing and resilient and never gave up on their pursuit of the goal they had set. Roger and I shook our heads a lot wondering how the heck we were unable to advise them against such an endeavor but also paddled and portaged on in amazement that they (and us) were conquering the challenge. I captured much of the journey with camera pics and videos and the scouts will tell many many more details as they arrive home. The only memory I was unable to capture with photos was our swamp walk across the “damp” lake and a picture is the only real way to fully understand the really bad situation we were in. There was no energy to spare to figure out how to get the camera and risk dropping it into the swamp and losing or breaking it – terribly brutal trek in the moment.”

Member of our Google Group?  Click here for more photos.
Summit participants @C Heubner
Northern Tier participants @Northern Tier






Troop 79 takes the Camp Cup at Owasippe

It was an eventful week at Camp Owasippe, according to camp coordinator, Mr. Carter.

As always, Troop 79 represented ourselves well, winning the Camp Cup, collecting a record number of merit badges, and chillin’ in our chairs around the fire.

The weather started out unusually hot and sticky. On Sunday, we checked in, but had to endure a downpour that nearly knocked out the opening campfire. Fortunately, the storm passed through just early enough, contributing to the fun atmosphere of the festivities. Otherwise we avoided any more rain. Though the steamy weather came back a bit in mid-week, it became very pleasant as the week ended, even being a little on the chilly side the morning of departure.

The Camp Cup consisted of daily challenges. We won canoe swamping and the waiter challenge, finished strong in gaga ball and the dry match race, and did just well enough in the frozen T-shirt competition to win by a score of 108 to 107. Expect to see the Cup at the next Court of Honor.

Scoutmaster Mr. Keats, Mr. Recinto, and Mr. Carter completed enough of the requirements (taking a 30-minute nap is a requirement) to get leader recognition. We also appreciated the assistance of Mrs. Smith and Mr. Barich.

Andrew completed his Order of the Arrow ordeal. Congratulations!

Pathfinder Scouts learned about the details of Scouting and moving up ranks, and finished with Swimming and First Aid merit badges. Older Scouts took many newly-offered badges. Much time was spent hanging around the Trading Post and visiting with Elijah.


[PHOTO] Troop 79 at Camp Owasippe @Dave Keats


Fall outdoor event schedule

So what exactly does the Patrol Leader’s Council do?  In a Scout-led Troop like ours, the PLC decides what the guys want to do with their monthly outings and presents the plan to the Troop Committee.

Thanks to Edward and Hayden for gathering input and presenting to over 20 adults at last week’s Committee mtg.  The PLC has spoken.  The themes they chose to incorporate into our activities were advancement, environmental impact and quality of food.  Here’s the plan for fall 2018:

Our first event will be on September 15 -16 at 31st St. Harbor courtesy of the Sea Scouts. Games, food and other things to entertain both our Scouts and the Webelos (5th graders) who will be invited for the day. The Troop members will have a place to sleep on the big Sea Scout boat, with additional vessels to be added as needed.  Sailing an option depending on weather.

Next up is October 13 – 14 at Blackwell forest preserve in DuPage County. This will be a bike overnight with potential for two different mileages similar to what we did last year on the beautiful (and flat!) Illinois Prairie Path.  This location is ideal for exploring both on foot and on two wheels.  Campfire expected as well.

Third is scheduled for November 2 – 4 at Camp Dan Beard in Northbrook. No school for CPS on Friday gives us the option to do an extended two night event.  This property in Cook County offers opportunities for hiking, orienteering and pioneering (building cool stuff out of branches & rope).

Check your schedule and save the dates!  Also posted on the Troop calendar.

Member of our Google Group?  Click here for more photos of previous events.
[PHOTO] IL Prairie Path @boylesfour

Summer 2019 High Adventure – never too early to plan!

It’s true!  Troop 79 is pointing our compass south again to the Caribbean island of St. Thomas to participate in the BSA’s Sea Base high adventure program in 2019.

Experience the allure of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Here, the trade winds blow, offering some of the best sailing in the world. Upon arrival at Sapphire Beach Resort and Marina, our two crews will each board a 40-foot-plus vessel with an experienced captain. Most crews attain the 50 Miler Award as they circumnavigate the crystal blue waters surrounding St. John.

In addition to sailing, our crews will snorkel pristine coral reefs, hike through jungles in the U.S. Virgin Islands National Park, swim ashore to incredible beaches, and fish.


Sea Base St. Thomas – see the Troop calendar

  • Highlights of the trip – see Sea Base St, Thomas brochure
  • Crews fly into STT Airport via commercial airline and taxi to the marina.
  • Adventure will span 6 nights, 7 days including arrival and departure dates, plus transit.
  • Estimated cost is $2,000 per participant including transportation.
  • Either a passport or copy of birth certificate is required to travel.
  • To be eligible to sign up, each participant must:
    • be a registered Boy Scout or Adult Leader.
    • be 13 years of age prior to July 29, 2019.
    • be in good health evidenced by the BSA Annual Health and Medical Record
    • be able to pass the BSA swim test.
    • meet BSA Height and Weight Guidelines.

We have a limited number of spots available! A minimum of 4 adults are needed for the trip (moms or dads).  That leaves room for a maximum of 12 Scouts to attend.

Sign up link will be sent to the Troop email distribution.  Deposit due Aug 1.

Contact Mr. Boyle, Asst. Scoutmaster with any questions.  Anchors aweigh!

Supporting our Chartered Organization

In case you were curious, the “Chartered Organization” conducts the Scouting program through its charter from the Boy Scouts of America.  In the case of Troop 79, we’re fortunate to have the Old Town Triangle Association as our chartered organization.  The Troop and our leaders therefore belong to the OTTA and are part of its “family.”



Q: Which of the below does the Chartered Organization do for the Troop?

  1. They provide the Troop a place to meet
  2. They help fund the Troop’s operating expenses
  3. They suggest activities that could benefit the OTTA and the neighborhood

A: All of the above!

And what does the Troop do in return?  Why of course, we provide cheerful service!  The most obvious example is supporting the annual Old Town Art Fair.  Over the course of four days, the Troop’s Scouts, parents and friends contributed over 350 person-hours of their time to the event.  Despite a couple rainy mornings, the crews setup tents, tables, chairs & stocked the entry booths.  Volunteers were also on hand during the event, as well as helped tear down afterwards.  And for the first time, the Troop also provided assistance for the memorable volunteer appreciation dinner.

Thank you, OTTA!  And thanks also to Mr. Martorina and Mr. Keats for herding the cats.

Member of our Google Group?  Click here for more photos.
[PHOTO] OTTA volunteers @Jill Wachholz

Troop 79 Eagle project update

Only 4 out of every 100 youth members achieve Scouting’s highest rank.  One reason the badge is such an accomplishment is the service project that must be planned, led and completed before a Scout turns 18.  Spring 2018 has been a very productive season for Troop 79’s Scouts on the path to Eagle.

What is the Eagle Scout Service Project?
While a Life Scout, plan, develop, and give leadership to others in a service project helpful to any religious institution, any school, or your community. (The project must benefit an organization other than the Boy Scouts of America.) A project proposal must be approved by the organization benefiting from the effort, your unit leader and unit committee, and the council or district before you start.

With the guidance of Mr. Barich, Mr. Taylor, Mr. Z and others, here’s what the six young men pursuing Eagle have achieved this spring:

March 21 With the manpower of over 20 scouts as well as the encouragement and wisdom of troop advisors, my parents, and the South Loop School after-school art teacher, Troop 79 conquered the first of many Eagle Scout projects this spring! Bringing the mural to fruition proved challenging, but the finished piece is fantastic. (still no invitations to the Art Institute masterpiece gallery though. Hmm…) Upon completion, the valiant scouts who sacrificed their evening feasted on Jimmy John’s sandwiches for their efforts. —Elijah

April 21 We did some landscaping cleanup, built and painted a bench and cubbies, and painted the high school room at St. Pauls UCC. (a pretty lengthy to do list…) Lunch was provided and this definitely counted towards rank advancement or high school service hours! —Jake

April 29 We met at the Holy Angels Catholic School Main Entrance at 750 E 40th St. From there, we headed to our workspace just down the block to build planter boxes and install/arrange them. This project helped create an afterschool program for the students to learn about urban farming and provide fresh vegetables for their community! In addition, pizza and drinks were provided for everyone! —Hayden

May 5 Scouts worked with Adaptive Adventures, an organization that helps people with physical disabilities gain access to adventures similar to those in scouting: kayaking, camping, and even skiing! At the project, scouts built multiple types of shelves and painted the entire storage container, resulting in a more useful and brightly colored space for Adaptive Adventures! —Michael

May 12 We worked at Patchwork Farms, 2825 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, from 9 am until 2 pm, and food was provided! We built a rat-proof lid for a compost box, which was formerly a shipping container (20 feet by 8 feet!)  In addition, we performed some minor repairs for the farm, as well as helped them get ready for the planting season. —Otto

May 26 The art installation at the Lincoln Park Community Services shelter took the cooperation of 20 Scouts and the use of the Lane Tech maker lab’s milling machine. The project incorporated additional shelving in their community kitchen, which was custom fit to the cabinet. The art pieces that came out of this displayed “Loyal”, “Helpful”, and “Friendly”; parts of the Scout law and images inspired by the city. —Edward

[PHOTOS] Elijah G,, Michael Y, @boylesfour


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

High Adventure BSA Swim Test

All Scouts and adults going to Summit and/or Northern Tier need to complete the standard BSA swim test. The test can be taken in one of the following ways:
1. In July at Owasippe (preferred)
2. At one of the two events below (see Troop calendar):
Sat, June 2 10:00-10:45AM at Independence Park, 3945 N Springfield Ave, Chicago, IL 60618, contact Mr. Boyle
 Sun, June 3 2:15-3:00PM at Ping Tom Park, 1700 S Wentworth Ave, Chicago, IL 60616, contact Mr. Greiner
3. On your own, assuming you can have a qualified adult trained in BSA Safe Swim Defense sign off the form here
Either way, the test must be completed and signed off before departing.  RSVP APPRECIATED for anyone attending the June 2 or 3 sessions!
– Jump feet first into water over the head in depth, level off, and begin swimming.
– Swim 75 yards in a strong manner using one or more of the following strokes: sidestroke, breaststroke, trudgen, or crawl; then swim 25 yards using an easy resting backstroke.
– The 100 yards must be swum continuously and include at least one sharp turn.
– After completing the swim, rest by floating.

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