Clintonville's Boy Scout Troop 28 celebrates 100 years

A century of scouting in central Ohio will be celebrated Sunday, April 15 – and members of Clintonville’s Boy Scout Troop 28 are prepared, as always.

The troop, now based out of North Broadway United Methodist Church, first enrolled a dozen boys April 20, 1918. When membership swelled to 27 the following year, according to the troop’s website, the annual cost to each boy was 25 cents.

Don Norcross has been the troop’s scoutmaster for four years but has been involved with it since 1999.

“There aren’t a huge number of units that have made it that far, staying chartered the whole time,” he said. “It’s a combination of things. Part of it is letting folks know the program is out there and bringing new people in. Part of it is convincing the adults of the importance of the program … and getting a few to dedicate their time to keeping it going.”

To commemorate the centennial of the troop – believed to be the oldest in the Simon Kenton Council, said assistant scoutmaster Michael Gonsiska – a reception and meal for current members, parents, alumni and others will take place from 1 to 2 p.m. April 15 at the church, 48 E. North Broadway. A Court of Honor, a standard Boy Scout recognition ceremony, is set for 2 p.m.

The Court of Honor will be followed by a ceremony in which Norcross and others will talk about the history of the troop and share their memories.

State Reps. Jim Hughes and David Leland are scheduled to participate in the events.

“Troop 28 has been a fixture of the community for generations,” Hughes said in a statement.

The former Clintonville resident, who now lives in Upper Arlington, said his father, Lawrence Hughes, was a member of Troop 28 and often spoke of the lessons of self-reliance and citizenship he learned during his time as a Boy Scout.

“While I wish that he had lived to see the 100th anniversary of Troop 28, I look forward to participating in the celebration in his honor,” Hughes said.

Leland, a longtime Clintonville resident, said it was an honor to celebrate the troop’s longevity.

“Throughout the past century, the members and leaders of this troop have achieved an outstanding record of service to our Columbus community,” he said in a statement.

William E. Kretschmer, 76, who now lives in the Galena area, joined Troop 28 in 1953 when he was 11 years old.

“Like most 11-year-olds, it was another step in life’s pathway, let’s put it that way,” Kretschmer said. “It was an interesting and varying trip. The troop was very active. We did summer camps as well as High Adventure. One of these trips that I remember well to this day is a trip into Canada, a seven-day or 10-day canoe trip. We covered five lakes up there and took a train, so it was quite an experience.”

Kretschmer went on to become a commercial pilot, including flights into the jungles of South America to bring tropical fish back to Columbus. He said the confidence needed for that kind of flying came directly from his time as a Scout.

“The scouting experience – I drew upon that, and still do today, in the spirit of the Scout laws and oath,” Kretschmer said.

“I think one of the best things about Troop 28 is the parent involvement,” said Kevin Couch of Gahanna, an assistant scoutmaster from 2005-15. “That is, to me, and I’m sure to most scoutmasters, a huge advantage to have for a troop. It takes a family to support it to get a troop to be successful like that.”

University District resident Ryan McDaniel, a current assistant scoutmaster, earned his Eagle Scout status with Troop 28 after joining in 2003.

“It’s surprising to think about what the troop has gone through,” McDaniel said. “We haven’t been the prim and proper group. We’ve always been a little different. That’s the reason why people join.”

Christopher Allwein, a member of the Clintonville Area Commission, said his son, Joseph Allwein, also became an Eagle Scout with Troop 28.

“I would say that Troop 28, in the past century, has been successful in instilling the values of scouting in all of its participants,” Allwein said. “Those values are things like service to your community and your country, self-reliance, working together in a group toward a common goal.

“I think that Troop 28 is successful primarily because they’ve been fortunate to have so many good leaders and committee members giving quite a bit of their valuable time to ensure this troop continues to be successful.”