Utah’s oldest running Boy Scout troop will celebrate its 100th anniversary this year.
Boy Scout Troop 51, originally known as Troop 1, was established in Eureka in 1916 and shortly after made its way to Provo.
Since then, it’s had a “far-reaching positive impact on our community by providing youth with a safe and exciting environment in which to learn the value of citizenship, service, teamwork, fitness and leadership,” according to a proclamation signed by Provo Mayor John Curtis on Feb. 16, when he and others gathered to recognize the troop for its years of service.
Led by Scoutmaster Kevin Keaton, the troop is one of the oldest in the western United States, and is Utah’s largest independent troop.
Over the years, the troop has met in various locations, including Provo’s Community United Church of Christ, according to Justin Muir, Troop 51 Committee Chairman.
Now chartered by the Provo Elks Lodge No. 849, the troop meets weekly to learn Scouting skills and monthly to go hiking, kayaking, camping, whitewater rafting, backpacking or rock climbing.
“We have a lot of traditions, and boys are drawn to us because of those traditions,” said Muir, who was the troop’s Scoutmaster for seven years. “We do something every month — we don’t play basketball. If we play games, we play Scouting games. The troop is for boys who want to go camping and get a sense of the outdoors. It’s not for everyone.”
The troop operates under the patrol method, meaning patrol members take turns serving in positions of patrol leadership. Essentially the troop is boy-led, with adult volunteers acting as supervisors.
Before joining the troop, potential members are required to attend three weekly meetings to get a sense of the troop and determine if its the right fit.
“It’s a big commitment for the boys and their parents,” Muir said. “We’re not funded by the LDS Church, and the boys pay dues every year. They also have to show up on Thursday nights. If you want to go on the monthly campout, you have to have at least 80 percent meeting attendance.”
Because it is not affiliated with a local LDS Church congregation, the troop is led by volunteer leaders — not those appointed to fulfill a church "calling." Because of that, Muir said, the troop doesn’t have a high turnover of Scoutmasters.
The fact that the troop isn’t associated with the LDS Church isn’t uncommon nationwide, but it is very uncommon in Utah, Muir said.
The troop relies heavily on troop-sponsored fundraisers and community donations to finance activities, outings, materials and uniforms for its 37 registered boys. It will host its main fundraiser — an all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinner — on March 5 in Provo. Tickets bought in advance cost $5 per child and $10 per adult, with $2 added when bought at the door.
“We prepare the food fresh,” Muir said. “We roll the meatballs and make the sauce from scratch, and the meal comes with a salad, bread, dessert and drinks.”
At the event, adult volunteers will work in the kitchen and the Scouts will act as servers.
“The boys work their little tails off the whole time,” Muir said. “It gets a little crazy but it’s a lot of fun.”
To learn more about Boy Scout Troop 51 or buy tickets for its spaghetti dinner, visit http://www.mytroop51.com/ or find the group on Facebook.