Three years ago, Troop 25 of Emmaus, Pa., renovated its Scout room by adding a fresh coat of paint to the walls and replacing old cabinets with heavy-duty metal shelving to hold camping gear. The result gave the Scouts a cleaner, more organized space at the St. John’s United Church of Christ.
One small cabinet housed awards and old records dating back to the 1930s. For a unit originally chartered in 1932, the troop committee believed those items should be on display. Two years later, phase two of the renovation project got underway by installing cabinets and countertops to create a troop museum. Some of the work was done during troop meetings, but most took place on the weekends as not to cut into program time.
Still, Scouts volunteered on the weekend workdays to complete the project. Scouts stained all the wood used in the museum. They installed plywood with aluminum tracking to create doors for extra storage. If this is sounding like a project you want for your unit, Troop 25 Scoutmaster Andy Frobase says it should be a group effort.
“Get the Scouts involved because not only will they learn a lot of history about the troop, but they will learn many different types of trades and skills throughout the process,” he says.
Filling the museum
Not only were the cabinet’s items put on display, but the chartered organization representative Glenn Clauser (Eagle Scout Class of 1960) and committee chair Chad Seibert (Eagle Scout Class of 1990) donated their collections from when they were Scouts in Troop 25.
At the end of their work, the troop had a beautiful backdrop for its meetings, showcasing nearly 90 years of the unit’s history. Some of those items include the troop’s original charter from 1932, a troop flag from the 1930s, Order of the Arrow sashes, camp patches, pennants, an old Cub Scout camera, cooking gear and vintage Scout handbooks.
“Reach out to your community outside of the troop because you may find many people in your community who were former Scouts, and they may have things they’d be willing to donate,” Frobase says.
The troop placed plaques on the cabinet door of all its 94 Eagle Scouts and past Scoutmasters. Above the museum, the Scout Oath, Law and Motto were applied in vinyl lettering. Finally, current Scouts wrote about what it’s like to be a Scout in 2020 and placed their writings in a time capsule that was installed behind a cabinet.
When the museum was done, Troop 25 held an open house for current and former troop members as well as church congregants to check out the room.
The key to finishing the project? Plan ahead.
“This goes back to the Scout Motto: Be Prepared,” Frobase says. “Make plans, have meetings with your troop on how you want to make things and find out how parents and leaders can contribute their areas of expertise, like carpentry, flooring or art.”
Meeting during the pandemic
Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the Scouts have not been able to enjoy their new room and museum. They have been virtually meeting via Zoom; the troop’s committee chair changed his background on the app to show the troop’s museum.
After state mandates allowed, they started meeting outdoors, so they could maintain social distancing.