Scout's honor celebrated during 75th anniversary of New London Boy Scout troop
Boy Scout Troop 228 of New London has been continuously chartered by New London American Legion Post 537 for 75 years, making it one of the oldest in the region. The troop will be celebrating that milestone during an open house at 1 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 29, at the Scout Hut, located near Peace Lutheran Church in New London. The Scout Hut was built in 1886, and was the town's original train depot. It's been used as a meeting place for Troop 228 since 1976.
NEW LONDON — Lyle Hudson was 17 years old back in 1968 when he planted two miles of trees north of New London for his Eagle Scout project. It was one of the many positive experiences Hudson said he had while being a scout — including a skill he later used to save his young daughter’s life.
In 1992, Dave Holmquist’s Eagle Scout project involved locating and mapping the missing graves of war veterans at the Oak Hill Cemetery in New London in order to appropriately place bronze star markers. Holmquist, a Kandiyohi County sheriff’s deputy whose father was a veteran, is also a military veteran and his son is currently in the Navy.
Hudson and Holmquist were both members of Boy Scout Troop 228 in New London, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary during a community celebration at 1 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 29, at their Scout Hut, located next to Peace Lutheran Church.
The troop was originally organized in 1928 but had periods of inactivity, including during World War II. But since 1946 it’s been continuously chartered by New London American Legion Post 537 .
Being continuously chartered for 75 years puts the troop in rare company, said John Andrews, executive director of the Northern Star Council , which oversees a majority of the scout troops in Minnesota.
Birth of Boy Scouts has Willmar roots
Scouting started in the United States in 1910 and one of the first troops in the country was located in Willmar.
Ludvig Dale, a Norwegian immigrant who was living in Willmar in the early 1900s, started the Willmar Boy’s Corps of Cadets around 1909 and then organized an official Boy Scout troop in October of 1910.
Dale, who at one time was an editor for the Willmar Tribune (now the West Central Tribune), went on to write stories and books about Boy Scouts and become involved with scouting on a statewide and national level, including raising funds and purchasing property for Boy Scout camps.
Andrews, who wrote an article on Dale’s involvement with scouts for a history book on Camp Minnetonka, said Dale was “instrumental” in the growth of Boy Scouts in Minnesota and around the country — as well as Kandiyohi County.
A Boy Scout troop in Wayzata, which has been continuously chartered for 106 years, is the oldest in the state.
A troop in Montevideo has been continuously chartered for 99 years by the Trinity Lutheran Church; Calvary Lutheran Church in Willmar has sponsored Troop 224 for 86 years; and, this year, troops in Dawson and New London celebrate their 75th anniversaries.
According to Andrews, fewer than 10% of the 400 troops in the Northern Star Council, which is one of the largest scouting councils in the country, have been continuously chartered for 75 years or more. Nearly all of the oldest troops are in the metro area.
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Andrews, who will be the keynote speaker at the 75th anniversary of Troop 228 in New London, said a community’s commitment to sustaining a Boy Scout is matched by troop members' longstanding commitment to do service projects for those communities.
“Civic engagement is key to a community’s survival,” he said.
History of service
In order to earn an Eagle Scout rank, a scout has to complete a major project before their 18th birthday, but scouts — even those who don’t reach Eagle — do service projects all year long.
The community service projects fostered in scouting establish "a lifelong attitude about civic engagement and putting others first,” Andrews said. Over the years, the types of projects taken on have evolved.
Shortly after Boy Scouts was established in 1910, they became a “household name” for their efforts to sell savings bonds to support World War I and were the “single largest entity” for selling the war bonds at that time, Andrews said.
During World War II, Boy Scouts gathered milkweed seeds to use in life jackets for the Navy.
In the 1970s, when pollution and environmental issues were prominent, Boy Scouts implemented Project SOAR, which stood for Save Our American Resources. The Scouting for Food program continues to help fill community food shelves.
Other projects, like cleaning road ditches, participating in Memorial Day ceremonies and official flag burning ceremonies with the local American Legions, are completed annually along with specialty projects like building a ramp for a disabled neighbor and helping others of all ages in need, with the support of community adults.
“Scouting is a generational transfer vehicle,” Andrews said. “It’s about one generation supporting the next generation, and the next and the next and the next.”
The generational aspect is especially true for Dave Holmquist, whose son, Robert, earned his Eagle Scout rank in 2020, making them the only father-son Eagle Scout team from the New London troop.
Dave Holmquist said scouting positively affected his self-management and leadership skills that carried him through the military, college and career. He’s happy his son had the same kind of experiences to guide him into the future.
Like most kids, Hudson said he liked camping with scouts and still uses the knot-tying skills but it was his first-aid training that was put to the test when his toddler daughter was having a seizure from a high fever.
He recalled the incident from nearly 40 years ago, saying that, in a panic, he was holding his daughter incorrectly while she was seizing and told himself, “you idiot, think of your training” and quickly did what he had learned as a Boy Scout.
By the time the ambulance arrived, his daughter was fine.
“All through my life, scouting has helped,” said Hudson. “It just makes you a better person if you follow the scout laws and oaths.”
Hudson, a Vietnam veteran and member of the New London American Legion, serves as the liaison between the Legion and Troop 228 and has started volunteering more with the troop.
Holmquist said the 75-year partnership with the New London American Legion post is “phenomenal” and speaks to the strength of community support for scouting.
Back in 1969, Hudson was the third scout from Troop 228 to earn his Eagle Scout rank. The troop now has 92 Eagle Scouts on its roster.
Those accomplishments will be celebrated during the anniversary celebration, which includes a flag-raising ceremony and speakers at 1 p.m. and an open house from 1:30 to 3 p.m. followed by a Court of Honor ceremony.
The event will be held outdoors by the Scout Hut, which was built in 1886 as the town’s train depot. The troop has used the building since 1976, and recently completed a major renovation after moving it to its current site next to Peace Lutheran Church.