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This Minnesota troop’s Scout hut is a former train depot

I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of a Scout hut.

That’s the term for a standalone building whose sole purpose is hosting Scout meetings and storing Scout stuff.

Growing up, my troop met every Sunday in a large conference room on the second floor of the city municipal building where my dad worked. We were lucky to have such a large, well-appointed, easily accessible space for our meetings. But it’s impossible to make such a space feel like your own when it’ll be used the next day for government business.

That’s where Scout huts like the one owned by Troop 228 of New London, Minn., really shine. Their building once was the train depot in the town that sits two hours west of Minneapolis.

Some old buildings get a second life as a Scout hut, while others are built strictly for that purpose. Some Scout huts, like this unique one in the basement of a Buffalo, N.Y., church, are part of larger buildings. Many of our Sea Scouting friends, meanwhile, have floating Scout huts. They meet aboard the same ships they use for excursions.

Troop 228 got its Scout hut in an interesting way — and for a price you won’t believe.

A former Scoutmaster made arrangements to purchase the old train depot for $1, and a local church (not Troop 228′s chartered organization) leased the troop the property for $1.

A local resident later donated his cabin to Troop 228, and it was joined “Frankenstein-style” to the depot. Inside you’ll find a veritable Scouting museum: old uniforms, photos, awards, Scout books and merit badge books.

Everyone in town knows the building as the “Scout hut,” and it has seen more than 40 boys earn their Eagle Scout award.

Check out some photos:

train-depot-troop-2 train-depot-troop-3 train-depot-troop-4 train-depot-troop-5

Let me see your unit’s Scout hut

Does your pack, troop, team, post, ship or crew meet in an interesting location? Send me an email with details and some photos. I might blog about it some day!

14 Comments on This Minnesota troop’s Scout hut is a former train depot

  1. Question to the BSA world: do you think your troop operates better with a dedicated Scout Hut? What are the pros and cons?

    • Having experienced both, I think it’s a wash. By sharing a space the Eagle plaque on the wall (for example) get’s noticed by non-scouts. By having your own space you can set up a long-term project without worrying about being in someone else’s way.

    • Our troop has had dedicated space (an old house on our church’s property) but now shares space in the church building (space that was built out to our specs and that we have been able to decorate). When you have your own space, you don’t have to worry about scheduling conflicts for impromptu meetings, hanging tents to dry after campouts, and packing everything up after meetings. The downside is that you take on maintenance issues and can spend a lot of time (and money) on the building. I’ve found that Scouts are more respectful of the shared space, but I loved having the dedicated space–especially after we got it fixed up.

      I think the bigger issue is how usable the space you have is, regardless of whether it’s shared or dedicated. Is the meeting room large enough? Is there space for patrol breakouts? Can you lock up equipment and files?

  2. Growing up, my troop had the basement of a senior center (basically a mansion owned by the church across the street). It was ours to renovate how we saw fit, and that’s where I got my first lesson in hanging drywall!

  3. While hiking across Wisconsin on the Ice Age Trail last summer, I got to stay at Medford’s Troop 536 scout hut sitting right in the city park. Great location and very cool building. I’m sooooo jealous, and believe a dedicated scout hut would definitely make a troop stronger – more ownership, responsibility, personalization, and freedom.
    Image – http://boyscouttrail.com/i/blog/1051.jpg

  4. Growing up on a military base, we had our own Scout Huts, many of which have been taken down in a sort of military “urban renewal plan”. That’s a shame, because they were community resources which were used two or three times a week for Scouting and the rest of the time for other community activities.

    I know who funded the HVAC and electricity for our Scout Huts…who does this in other communities for “stand-alone buildings” (okay, a church or school may fund the heating/air and electricity…and water/sewage for a building they own…)?

    I can still take pictures of my Troop’s meeting place and my Explorer Posts’ office space, but time moves on and I was told that both of those places will be demolished along with the building which used to be the community’s Scout Trading post. So I see those photos above with a bit of jealousy and a bit of wonderment.

    • I was the Scoutmaster of T114 in Neu-Ulm, Germany during two deployments for a total of six years. We met in a bunker that was part of a fortress built during the Napoleonic wars. I’m moving right now and have a lot of stuff in storage, but I need to find my photos.

  5. Reblogged this on Tarjcooper's Blog.

  6. Jeff Clausen // March 20, 2014 at 3:59 pm // Reply

    In cold-weather areas, how could a troop afford to pay the heat bills?

    • The could burn unsold popcorn, camp cards, pine straw, christmas wreaths, etc. Bwah, ha, ha, ha, ha. :)

    • Tris Mische // March 20, 2014 at 5:15 pm // Reply

      I happen to be a committee member of New London Troop 228 and can tell you first hand that our Scout Hut would not have lasted as long as it has if not for our charter rep. New London American Legion Post 537. They give the troop money each month to pay for heat and water, also help with any major repairs. The minor ones the troop covers.

    • Mark Gatzemeyer // March 21, 2014 at 3:54 pm // Reply

      Our Troop (featured above) gets a check every month from our Chartered Organization that covers most of our building expenses. We are VERY fortunate to have an organization that believes in our program and is willing to help out every month.

  7. Kris Gatzemeyer // March 20, 2014 at 5:32 pm // Reply

    Our charter organization, the Legion post, is awesome about paying the troop every month, and those funds are what we use to pay heat and water for the building. We are tremendously blessed to have this building, and we schedule time at least once a year for a thorough cleaning. Our former scoutmaster is a veterinarian, and he takes care of unwanted pests that will crawl under the building, or the bats that make it inside. We have a plumber among the ASM’s as well as many “dads” who are just good at handyman jobs. (My husband is the “caretaker” for the building now, and he sent in the pictures and info above!)

  8. Reblogged this on Mark Ray | Writer and commented:
    According to Maslow’s famous hierarchy of needs, shelter is a basic human need, along with food, water, and warmth. It’s pretty important to Scout troops, too. In many ways, where you meet affects how your program works. My first meeting place as a Boy Scout was a concrete-block Scout house about the size of my current living room. My next troop met in a National Guard armory and two surplus city/county buildings. When I was Scoutmaster, we had exclusive use of an old farmhouse on our church’s property. That house eventually gave way to parking, so we moved into the church building proper, where part of the old fellowship hall was built out to our specs, complete with a meeting room office, conference room, four patrol rooms, and storage.

    All of these spaces had their good points and their limitations, but as I think about them, I’m reminded of one thing: shelter is just a basic need, for humans and troops alike. The important thing about a meeting place is that it support, not detract from, your program and allow your Scouts to climb Maslow’s hierarchy to the top: self-actualization.

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