SUNBURY — Boy Scout Troop 331 sponsored by the United Lutheran Church at Wolf's Crossroads southeast of Sunbury celebrated its 50th anniversary on Sept. 18 in the church's fellowship hall. More than 100 people were in attendance as Congressman Fred Keller and State Representative Lynda Schlegel Culver congratulated the troop and presented citations recognizing the accomplishment. State Senator John Gordner also sent his best wishes with a citation from the state Senate.
Present Committee Chairman Kris Kauffman emceed the event and troop members under the leadership of Senior Patrol Leader Luke Whipple handled the opening and closing. Three of the original six members of the troop, Thomas Ross Jr., Lee Lawrence, and Neil Raup, original Scoutmaster Donald Geise, original troop committee chairperson Martha Ross, and an original committee member Donald Fausey were among the attendees.
While there were only six boys participating when Troop 331 formed in January 1971, the troop had grown to 23 scouts by the end of that first year. Since its inception, the troop size has varied from five scouts in 1984 to a high of 52 scouts in 2013. The average size of the troop has been 25 and there are presently 18 boys in the troop. Throughout its 50 years of existence, the troop had served more than 310 different boys and has had 79 Eagle Scouts with Mr. Ross being the first. In addition to Mr. Geise, the troop has had four other scoutmasters, Lon Fisher, John "Butch" Meredith, Mike Stender, and presently Larry Beck. The troop credits its longevity to being active with a variety of camping opportunities, educational trips, outdoor activities, and community service projects every year.
Troop 331 is very proud of the service they provide annually to the community including: litter pickup as part of PennDOT's Adopt a Highway program; food drive to assist the Salvation Army; helping the Friends of the Degenstein Library set up for their book sale; participating in the Memorial Day Parade; assisting the Northumberland County Fair Association set up for their fair; painting 20-25 Market Street windows at Christmas time in Sunbury; preparing gifts and caroling at a local nursing home.
Since 2004, Eagle projects have been completed at 11 churches in the area with the unit's sponsor, the United Lutheran Church, being the primary beneficiary. Other churches include Mount Pleasant Methodist, First Reformed Church of Christ, Augustaville Wesleyan, Klinesgrove Methodist, Ash Grove Methodist, and the Susquehanna Valley Church of Christ. The troop has averaged more than 565 hours of community service per year over the last 17 years.
The troop has taken an educational trip each spring since 1990 (except the last 2 years due to COVID-19) where they visit various science museums, wildlife refuges and military facilities. The areas visited on these trips include: Gettysburg, Norfolk, Va., Washington, D.C., Canton and Cleveland, Ohio, Dover and Wilmington, Del., Springfield and Falls River, Mass., Ithaca and Cooperstown, N.Y., Pittsburgh and Erie.
Camping and outdoor activities are a fundamental part of the troop's program. Troop 331 has attended summer camp at least 40 of their 50 years of existence (at least 35 of these have been at Camp Karoondinha) where many of the scouts have been part of the camp staff and Order of the Arrow activities. They take part in Susquehanna Council/District camporees and Klondike Derbies. Annually they visit another council boy scout camp such as Seven Mountains, Hawk Mountain, Bashore, Hidden Valley, Brule, Mack, and Tuckahoe, and rent a cabin at Camp K during February. In addition to the Gettysburg and Washington Presidents' Historic Trails, the troop has hiked portions of the Appalachia Trail, Harrisburg Historic Trail, Rickets Glen Trails, and trails in other state parks and forests. They regularly canoe on the Susquehanna River from Duncannon to Marysville and white water raft on the Lehigh River from White Haven to Jim Thorpe.