A reunion for Boy Scouts of America Troop 538 Mount Airy First Baptist Church is being staged to both look forward and back to the past. The effort is an extension of Assistant Scoutmaster and Advancement Chairman Casey Culler’s interests as the history major prepares for graduate school in the spring.
“When I was digging around and digitally scanning history items I found in the troop’s headquarters when I found out we were in our 83rd year and there didn’t appear to be any reunions held,” said Culler. “I thought a big reunion would be cool.”
Culler said he discussed the project with Church Liaison and Charter Representative Josh Martin, who thought it was a good idea. He said the reunion is set for Nov. 2-3 with registration set to begin at 9 a.m. at the Raven Knob Scout Reservation Dining Hall.
The effort directly draws on scouting’s “Be Prepared For Life” motto and a tradition of training boys and young adults to be strong, resourceful and trained in the responsibilities of citizenship. Scouting itself was incorporated in 1910 and chartered by Congress in 1916. Troop 538 has been chartered since 1927.
Culler said the agenda is loosely structured to allow ample opportunities for fellowship, stories and sharing memories which are the history of the organization. Members of the troop will work the camp’s exhibits and provide support for the participants.
“Things have changed in scouting over the past 10 years, let alone over the past 30 years,” said Culler. He said a camp museum will be open all day with exhibits reflecting the history of the troop as well as scouting and a hike to the top of the camp’s mountain is planned. An extensive collection of scouting patches maintained by local collector Homer Dearmin will also be on display. Scouting tents and old and new equipment will be on display.
Another high point of the reunion will be a large camp fire held on Saturday night. The event will conclude Sunday morning with breakfast followed by a church service at the camp chapel. Culler said the campfire is “where it all comes together 25 years later with songs and memories and special presentations.” He said he is a fan of the Sunday morning service with the chapel situated at a scenic area of the camp’s lake.
“We are hoping for a lot of catching up and story telling around the campfire,” Culler said. “We also will have special guests Saturday such as Council Executive Steve Wilburn and Camp Director Keith Bobbitt. We plan to have folks throughout the camp with digital recorders and some video to capture the oral history of the troop that will be shared between the scouts and scoutmasters. This is our legacy and the schedule is flexible to allow participants to do what they want.”
One critical issue Culler stressed is the need for feedback from participants which is important for planning meals and the overnight camping event. The troop is known for its cooking and is planning on offering top quality fare at all three of the meals for the reunion.
“I want to emphasize that if participants need transportation or have other needs they have to let us know,” said Culler.
Culler said the numbers of participants will determine the cost which he estimated will go no higher than $20. This will cover three meals, camping arrangements and a special commemorative patch for the reunion. Participants may contact Culler at 336-769-6627 or email the troop at troop538OHC@gmail.
“The more that come the less the cost will be,” said Culler. “I’d like to get audio of the conversations and we’ll have a photographer there too for group photos. My degree is in history and I’m set for graduate school, so capturing the knowledge that will be shared here is so important. One leader here, Denny Shelton, has been in scouting since 1965. The event is a good run for our 100th anniversary event.”
The reunion is the first time Culler has organized such as an event and he said he has discovered the details make all the difference.
“This can be as big as it needs to be. We have rented the whole camp,” said Culler. “The support of lots of resources from members and the Old Hickory Council has been tremendous. This is an event where we are trying to say we have done this and when young members are sitting in a leadership chair it will be your turn. We’re looking inward and not just outward.”
Reach David Broyles at firstname.lastname@example.org or 336-719-1952.