At Philmont, Baltimore Scouts meet the man who founded their troop

Sometimes your past comes back to haunt you. Other times it greets you with open arms.

It was the latter for Kevin Dowling this summer at Philmont Scout Ranch, where he serves as general manager.

In 1971, Dowling started Troop 918 in the Baltimore Area Council for his Eagle Scout service project. In 2016, he watched current-day members of Troop 918 visit Philmont for a trek.

And when their trek departed, Dowling was there.

“Kevin Dowling could not have known, way back in 1971, that his idea to start a new Scout troop would last and grow,” trek advisor Chris Chamberlin wrote in an email to me. “After all, without attention and support, many troops falter and fold, remaining only a memory in the minds of Scouts who had participated.”

That wasn’t the case in Troop 918, which spawned from Dowling’s Eagle project 45 years ago and has become “one of the most tradition-focused troops in the Baltimore Area Council,” Chamberlin writes.

Dowling knows a thing or two about tradition-steeped places continuing to thrive.

He serves as general manager of Philmont Scout Ranch, which means he oversees the world’s largest youth camp. Some 22,000 Scouts and leaders trek through its 140,180 acres each summer.

In July, Scouts from Troop 918 completed a 70-mile trek there. It was the culmination of nearly 10 months of training, including hikes along the Appalachian Trail.

As they departed base camp, the Scouts — David, Jeremy, Mike, Sam, Jack and Zach — were greeted by Dowling.

Then they spent 12 days climbing, backpacking, rifle shooting and exploring an old gold mine. They summited Mount Phillips along the way.

When they returned to base camp, Dowling greeted them once more. The Scouts presented one of their crew T-shirts — clean, thankfully — to their troop’s founder “as a gesture of thanks and to commemorate the successful completion of their trek,” Chamberlin wrote.

Dowling told them he was glad to know that Troop 918 is still functioning and thriving troop in the Severna Park, Md., area.

“It was a great day all around,” Chamberlin wrote.


  1. My husband and I have known Kevin for many years, back when he was in NJ. My husband recently completed his 7th (? – I’ve lost count) trek at Philmont with our Council contingents, and when Kevin learned that he was coming, he greeted the crew before beginning their hike, and visited with them before they headed home 12 days later! Kevin is what scouting is – he’s terrific!

    • Back in 1971 the wording of the “Eagle Project” requirement would have been from the 1970 revision which was, “While a Life Scout, plan, develop, and carry out a service project helpful to your church or synagogue, school, or community.”

      There’s been many revisions to the requirement since then, including that it is a leadership project (note that old wording never said to give leadership). The first official mention in the requirement wording itself that the BSA cannot be the benefiting organization doesn’t seem to appear until the revision that went into effect 4/1/1999. I’d imagine that the clarification likely existed before that either formally through the Guide to Advancement or the Eagle Project workbook, or at least informally. But I don’t have that data in front of me.

      Mike Walton probably knows though. That guy knows everything!

  2. I was at Hawk Mountain and attended a NCS for cope with Kevin in the early 90’s ,I learned a lot and have been sharing it with scouts and scouters ever since,I still teach cope and climbing in northwestern Ohio,the Black Swamp Area Council and it is still a great feeling to share with others what I have learned,,,YIS ,,,Bandit

  3. Sorry I never had the pleasure of meeting Kevin Dowling. He is following in the footsteps of many great Philmont Directors. I was the District Scout Exec. in Harford County, Baltimore Area Council, 1955 to 1958. Broadcreek was in my District. My old friend, Joe Davis was Philmont Director at that time. I was fortunate, as a Lewiston Trail Council Program director in Lockport, New York, to have my youngest son Bill accompany me as I led 42 scouts and five scouters on a bus trip to Philmont in 1969. I could write a book about that experience. I also mention that while in the Civilian Conservation Corps in New Mexico in 1939, I visited Philturn Rocky Mountain Scout Camp, now known as Philmont. Oh yea, I’m 94 yrs. young

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