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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


Taking all the necessary precautions, a mini-Philmont prep hike was salvaged from the Troop’s scrubbed plans to camp overnight at Bullfrog Lake in the southwest burbs.

The hikers did their best to maintain their social distance in the hilly woods of the forest preserve. Getting outside for a vigorous and muddy walk seemed like the best prescription for an afternoon that would otherwise be spent indoors at home.

And despite the light snow falling, they made it to the remains of the atomic testing that had been done at the site. Perfectly safe now, of course.

[PHOTOS] Cook County Forest Preserve @boylesfour

Two Scooter Riders and One Prepared Scouter

My favorite section in Boys Life magazine as a teen was “Scouts in Action”. Sure, the corny jokes are great, but the idea that with a little training and a cool head you could save someone’s life? Well, that was pretty impressive.

Fast forward a few decades. Last week I was traveling with Mrs. Boyle to the west coast for some sightseeing. We had pointed our rental car up the steep drive to LA’s Griffith Observatory to catch the sunset over Tinseltown.

About halfway up, two young men on rental scooters came zipping around a corner. The first guy hit a pothole and fell. The second tried to avoid his buddy but also wrecked. So here are two people lying in the road, clearly hurt. What does one do?

If you’re prepared, you safely pull your vehicle out of traffic, grab your first aid kit and go help! As the two dazed riders stood up, I walked over and introduced myself, letting them know I was trained in first aid. Making sure we were all out of harm’s way, I did a quick triage and was relieved that neither one was badly injured.

I kept up a constant stream of chatter as I cleaned and bandaged abrasions, wrapped a sprained wrist and kept watch for signs of shock. A few minutes later they were on their way (walking!) to return the scooters.

Thankfully this wasn’t a case of life or death. But I can assure you these two guys were super appreciative to have someone show up with the right supplies and the knowledge to use them.

[PHOTO] First aid in Griffith Park @amyboylephoto

Troop 79 Opts Outside on Black Friday

If getting some exercise and doing good with your friends on the day after Thanksgiving sounds like a great idea, read on. Inspired by REI’s #OptOutside initiative and led by 2018 Eagle Scout Edward Boyle, over 25 Scouts and family members spent the morning doing litter cleanup at a Chicago park. Also joining the work crew were six of the spring 2019 “Eagle X” who were home on break from college.

The cleanup benefited the environment and people who enjoy Horner Park, a location several of the Scouts experienced as cross country runners in high school. The teams fanned out across the 58 acre grounds, gathering many buckets full of carelessly discarded debris – including food packaging, plastic bags, plastic straws, bottle caps, cigarette butts, along with recyclable items such as plastic bottles, aluminum cans and glass containers.

Thanks to the Scouts, parents and siblings who came out to support the cleanup, to the Chicago Park District for the opportunity, and to Friends of the Chicago River for their generous contribution of cleanup equipment and refreshments!

  • Interested in serving your local Chicago park? Contact the volunteer office at (312) 742-4764.
  • Check out this excellent guide from the Friends of the Chicago River to learn more about the mission to keep improving our city’s “blue green corridor”.
  • Recycling can seem mysterious.  What goes in the blue carts?  What happens to it?  See the City’s guide to what’s recyclable. Test yourself with a quiz!

Now don’t you feel better?

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

[PHOTOS] Park cleanup @boylesfour

Troop 79 Does a “Freeze-out” in the Kettle Moraine

A little snow and cold didn’t stop Troop 79 from enjoying a late fall weekend north of the “cheese curtain” in Wisconsin. Thanks to no school on Friday, several members of our Philmont 2020 crew (and one future Philmonter) hiked out into the woods and fields of the famous Ice Age National Scenic Trail.

Arriving at backpack Shelter #3 several hours later, the crew members made a trail dinner, setup their tents, and promptly settled into their sleeping bags as the temps sank into the mid-20’s overnight.

Saturday morning dawned slightly warmer, as the Scouts shouldered their packs for the remainder of their 15 mile hike. The trail crossed fields and woods, and included a visit to a dolomite outcropping called Brady’s Rocks.

A satisfying trail lunch was the Philmont crew’s reward before continuing on to Pinewoods Group Camp where the rest of the Troop would be waiting. A happy reunion followed! A two mile hike was enjoyed by the future Philmonters while the 15-milers rested their boots.

Dinner was started early as darkness fell around 5PM, which prompted a hot campfire of locally sourced oak until “hiker midnight” around 9PM. Thankfully not so cold as Friday.

Thanks to our Patrol Leaders and adults Mr. Keats, Carter, Chambliss, Martin, and Boyle for making the weekend possible! Last campout until 2020.

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

[PHOTOS] Kettle Moraine camping @boylesfour

Two more Troop 79 Eagle Projects completed

One reason achieving Scouting’s highest rank is such an accomplishment is the service project that must be completed before a Scout turns 18.  Fall 2019 has been an important season for two of 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.

From Eagle candidate Andrew B: Thank you to everyone who helped with my project! Despite the cold and wet Saturday, we were able to complete the assembly of the bench components (sanding, staining, building, as well as yard work) to prepare for the job site. Due to the cold and wet weather, I was forced to extend the project to Sunday when we (James, George, my parents, and I) installed all the benches to complete my project.

I would like to thank Mr. Taylor and Mr. Zoiopoulos for their guidance and encouragement throughout this process. Thank you to Mr. Martin, James, Chris, George, Geoffrey, Nico, Daniel, Eadan, Aidan, James, Henry, Lev, Brady, Max, and Davu for attending; in total, you earned 80 service hours, ate 24 donuts, drank over 2 gallons of Coca-Cola, and ate 5 large pizzas.

I received generous donations from Home Depot on Elston Ave. and several family friends. These benches will help St. John Berchmans School and the Logan Square Community, where I live.

From Eagle candidate Jack S: Thank you to everyone who helped with my project! The painting of all of the walls, installing the rubber flooring with the glue, and Andrew masterfully installing the lockers could not have been better. Through the course of the day, I was very thankful for all your support. Although we could not finish the project that day, my parents and I went back the night after and did some finishing touches.

I would like to thank Mr. Taylor and Mr. Zoiopoulos for their coaching and everyone who came out to help me complete my project.

Special thank you to Eddy Murray who supported all the cost of my project. Benton House is very thankful for your support and is interested in hosting further eagle scout projects.

[PHOTOS] Logan Square Benches @ABui, Benton House Interior @JStewart

Troop 79 hosts two Cub Scout Packs at Council Camporee

What a beautiful fall weekend to join thousands of Chicago area Scouts and their families for the Pathway to Adventure Council Camporee! Troop 79 played host to two Chicago Packs, sharing a camp dinner and tent space. Great time was had by all.

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

[PHOTO] Busse Woods camping @DKeats

Fall In! Troop 79’s Annual Court of Honor

Chris and Jack hosted this fall’s Court of Honor to a packed house of Scouts, parents and siblings.

The evening kicked off with a flag ceremony and included Committee recognition from Mr. Larson, presentation of about 100 merit badges, many rank advancements and installation of the troop’s newest leaders.  Thanks to Mr. Barich as our “journey to excellence” continues to bear patches, including a special 30 year commemorative “79” in honor of our longstanding relationship with the Old Town Triangle Association as our sponsor.

As always, a “changing of the guard” was conducted to hand over the Senior Patrol Leader and Assistant SPL roles from John and Colin to Colin and Oscar.  In addition, the Troop heard from past SPL Elijah who’d spent the summer as a guide at the Northern Tier canoe base. His message about savoring the time together in the outdoors was well received!

This year we had a special award presented to our Scoutmaster, Mr. Keats, in appreciation of his over six years leading Troop 79. What made this recognition all the more meaningful were the recommendation letters that came from Scouts, not adults. Thank you very much for your selfless service!

Following all the pomp & circumstance, our summer camp SPL Geoffrey showed off the second Owasippe Camp Cup won by the Troop. Sea Base crew leader Oscar then shared some highlights of the summer’s high adventure trip to the US Virgin Islands. Tough duty! Thanks to Mr. Carter for the multi-media presentation to add color to the commentary.  Mr. Boyle wrapped up the evening with a few words on the important reasons we camp as a Troop.

Many thanks to all the Scouts, Committee members and parents who support Troop 79 and help make it the fun Scout-led organization that it is.

[PHOTO] Court of Honor @boylesfour, @SMcArthur

Troop 79 Hikes at Starved Rock

It was a dark and stormy night. Wait, that was Saturday…. Friday was a beautiful night – to be stuck in rush hour traffic leaving Chicago for Starved Rock State Park about two hours away. Three years ago the troop camped in the same field. Hard to tell when we arrived that night, but by daybreak on Saturday the place looked very familiar.

Our acting camp SPL, Oscar, gave the Scouts a demo on how to properly pack a backpack. This training will come in handy for several of our guys heading to Philmont next summer. Then it was time to hit the trail to St. Louis canyon.

The canyon and its caves made a great lunch stop. Most of the troop headed back to camp after a stop in the visitor center, but not the hardy Philmonters. They put another couple miles under their boots, including a lot of stairs. They seem to be off to a good start, but wait until they add four days worth of food to their packs in the high mountains of New Mexico next July!

As the sun settled into the trees, out came the matches and fire for dinner, as demonstrated by our new SPL, Colin. Fruit cobbler and a game of commando on the moonlit field capped off the evening. At least things were mostly dry when we finally called it a night.

Here’s where the stormy night comes in. Sometime around 3AM, distant flashes of lightning became more frequent and insistent, followed by rain. Lots of rain. And wind too. Thankfully by morning the heaviest stuff had let up, leaving a brief break in the precip to make breakfast, pack up and head home to Chicago.

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

[PHOTOS] Starved Rock camping @boylesfour

Troop 79 Sails the High Seas

This summer Troop 79 ventured to Sea Base in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Two crews boarded Celebration and Manukai, heading over to circumnavigate St. John.

Despite some initial nervousness, Scouts jumped in and easily completed swim checks to the satisfaction of the boat captains. We soon realized this was nothing compared to the lengthy snorkeling we did daily. Often tying up to buoys in particularly deep water, we would don our fins, masks, and fluorescent vests, “yeet” ourselves off the boat, swim across this deep expanse to outcroppings, and enjoy breathtaking wildlife. Trigger fish, parrot fish eating coral, squid that changed color as we passed, nurse sharks, blue flounder, swimming through sergeant majors in schools of hundreds, stingrays, a large number of sea turtles, and South Sea lobster. Celebration crew learned how to identify the lobsters’ hiding spots (not too difficult with their antennae sticking out), spooked them out, and successfully caught one. It turned their plain meal of mac and cheese into a gourmet meal of mac and cheese and lobster!

Speaking of food, the crews cooked on board most of the time, with the chance to visit the shore for a “hamburger” cook out over a charcoal fire. This was one of many opportunities to go ashore and play on the beach or go hiking. Land shoes and water bottles were critical, as the heat and terrain, often along rocky shores, made hikes a challenge. Both crews made their way to the Annaberg sugar mill ruins, and later, at a stop in Salt Pond Bay, we hiked to the southern-most point at the top of Ram Head. It was surprising to see so many cacti in what seems like a tropical area.

It was a rainy week. Celebration crew had gone to shore just before Manukai crew, and we all met at the Annaberg sugar mill ruins. Heavy rain seemed to be approaching, so Celebration crew headed back, but Manukai crew thought the rain would stay to the north. Celebration crew reached the shore just as the rain started, and made it back to their boat, but Manukai crew were caught out. With lightning hitting all around, including nearby Mary Point, Manukai crew were stuck on the beach. The downpour was so heavy, it was hard to see the boats from shore. In the rain, the crews danced and shouted back and forth. If there is one thing we learned from the trip, it is that when you are wet multiple times a day, being rained on means nothing.

Both crews spent time sailing, with such lean that the side rail would be in the water. Scouts helped tie up the boat to the buoys, let out/bring in the sails, and any other ways they could assist in sailing. Evenings were spent playing cards. Sleeping above deck was a challenge, as there was considerable rain nearly every night, so Scouts found spots on the floor in the cabins.

Crews went into Cruz Bay separately and enjoyed lunch and a chance for souvenirs. A tropical fruit smoothie where the fruit is just picked is a delicious respite on a muggy day.

The trip ended with the return to the Sapphire Beach harbor, cleaning of the boats, a quick meal, and brownie and ice cream treat at the resort up the hill. Except for a little sunburn, all ended healthy and happy.

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

[PHOTOS] Sea Base St. Thomas @K Carter, E Schechter

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