By Jeff Kunkle, Boy Scout Troop 34
Boy Scout Troop 34, which has been part of the east side of Madison since 1945, will be retiring its troop number at the end of 2023. It will be merging with Troop 29, another mainstay of the east side.
This move was necessitated due to a declining number of youth entering into scouting and the aging-out of several Troop 34 Scouts. The merger of Troops 29 and 34 will ensure that Scouting still has a place on the east side. The difficult decision was based on the fact that Troop 29 has a long history and will be celebrating its centennial in a couple of years. The newly formulated Troop 29 will call Trinity Lutheran Church home, long the charter organization for Troop 34.
Despite the merger and the fact that Troop 34 will no longer officially exist, the current Scouts and adult leaders are excited about the future.
“I am sad that we’re retiring … 34, but the values and what Troop 34 is will live on, just under another number,” Jay Kempen, assistant scoutmaster for Troop 34, said. “(Troops) 34 and 29 will be stronger together.”
Holly O’Higgins, a Troop 34 adult leader for 17 years, is also confident that the troop’s legacy will still be felt.
“The value of Scouting is its focus on citizenship and leadership, and how it values the environment and conservation,” O’Higgins said. “I firmly believe the best way to combat climate change is to teach kids about the value of their voice as a citizen.”
Before Troop 34 is officially retired, it will celebrate the final three Scouts to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest level of accomplishment a Scout can achieve. Gus Kunkle-Schoen, who led efforts to procure and install shelving for the nonprofit group Open Doors for Refugees; Finn O’Higgins, who designed and implemented a project to keep leaves out of Madison lakes; and George Stattelman-Scanlan, who constructed and installed bat boxes at Aldo Leopold Nature Center, all join a long and storied list of Troop 34 Eagle Scouts.
“We definitely have a lot of pride — our troop has done a lot of good,” Stattelman-Scanlan said. “Being an Eagle Scout for this troop is definitely something I am very proud of.”
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