Troop 1 of Wichita Falls, Texas, reminisced about a century of existence at a reunion banquet attended by Glenn Adams, then-president of the National Eagle Scout Association.
And in Rhode Island, Camp Yawgoog staff planned a weekend of festivities — including a dinner, parade and 5K race — to toast the camp’s 100th birthday.
All across the country, troops and camps are nearing major anniversaries. By planning ahead, you can recognize 25, 50, 75 or 100 years of Scouting service with an event that will promote Scouting in your community, allow Scouting alumni to reconnect and maybe even raise some money for your troop or camp.
‘A terrific opportunity’ to reconnect
James Delorey of Scouting Alumni & Friends (previously the Scouting Alumni Association) says these milestones are “cause for a great celebration.”
“Reunions are a terrific opportunity for people to reconnect with Scouting, meet other Scouters and Scouting alumni, learn something about Scouting today, make new friends and discover ways to get involved,” he says.
Reunions don’t necessarily need to celebrate a number divisible by 5 or 10, Delorey says. Troop 48 could, for example, plan a big event for its 48th anniversary.
And reunions aren’t just for troops.
“Any Scouting group can benefit from reconnecting,” he says. “Scouting Alumni & Friends offers guidance on how to put on a great and successful reunion event for groups such as alumni from council camps, Wood Badge, Sea Scouts, Explorer posts, Alpha Phi Omega, your Order of the Arrow lodge, your troop, your patrol, whatever.”
Ready to make a reunion a reality? Here are some of Delorey’s top tips.
Planning the reunion
- Decide what you want to do, pick a location and set a date on the calendar. Think about what your purpose is!
- Reach out to a few people you just know will come to help get the momentum going.
- Take your event as an opportunity to build a community on Facebook (it’s free), and crowdsource the fun task of hunting down your old Scouting friends. Find people through word-of-mouth, LinkedIn, and search directories like the alumni directory at scoutingalumni.org. Your council professional staff may be able to help.
- Post old photos to build excitement.
- Be inclusive. Be generous and welcoming with your invitations. Encourage alumni to bring the family! And remember that a Scout’s parents are alumni, too! Being inclusive also means making sure the people you want to come aren’t priced out of your event.
- Present awards to dedicated and honored alumni. If you plan to give out an award that requires paperwork or approvals, give yourself plenty of time to get everything in order.
- Promote your event. Local media outlets love reunion stories — especially when they come with good photos. And once a story is online, use it to promote your event even more.
At the reunion
- You don’t have to prepare a seven-course meal. General rule: the simpler, the better.
- Get into the spirit. Maybe wear your old neckerchief – bring enough for anyone who forgot theirs!
- Break out some mementos and photos, and post pictures of them on your alumni Facebook page!
- Take photos that capture spirit of the occasion. Recreate old group photographs.
- Be sure to take a great, high-quality, group photo — and include something to “anchor” your photo, such as a landmark, a sign, a totem, or troop flag.
- Ban long speeches! Provide plenty of opportunities for people talk to one another.
- Get everyone’s information, email, and “friend” them on Facebook. When you take photos, post and share those photos as soon as you can.
- Most important: Have fun!
After the reunion
- Say “thank you, thank you, thank you” to all who helped and all who came.
- Revel in what just happened, the friendships you rekindled, and the new memories you have made. Be energized!
- Evaluate what worked and what didn’t.
- Follow up. Add newcomers to your email list and Facebook groups. Post and tag photos. Make everyone who wasn’t there want to join you next time!
- This isn’t just about reconnecting. Be forward looking! When will you get back together again? What can you do to help grow Scouting?
Further reading: Five recent reunions
- Camp Yawgoog in Rhode Island celebrated 100 years in July 2016. The weekend-long festivities included a sold-out reception on Friday, a 5K road race, a dedication, and a Saturday night dinner and awards ceremony for alumni. Bishop Thomas J. Tobin helped close out the weekend, celebrating Mass on Sunday before a chicken barbecue and a parade. See photos here.
- Troop 1 of Wichita Falls, Texas, celebrated its 100th anniversary with a three-day reunion in June 2016. See news coverage here and here.
- Troop 1 of Sacramento, Calif., celebrated its 100th anniversary in June 2016. Scouts who attended the centennial celebration in uniform received a cool commemorative neckerchief. See a video here and photos here.
- T.L. Storer Scout Reservation in New Hampshire hosted a camp staff alumni weekend in July 2016. The event included a Saturday lunch, camp activities, a lobster and steak banquet, campfire, post-campfire deserts, and a commemorative Staff Alumni Weekend T-shirt. It also includes overnight accommodations (camp tents) on Saturday night and Sunday morning coffee and doughnuts.
- Monmouth Council in New Jersey held a reunion for alumni, friends and family at New York’s Forestburg Scout Reservation in July 2016. Learn more in this PDF.