Scouting for a homeThe Herald News - Joliet (IL)August 14, 2002 | Catherine Ann VelascoJohn Gurnitz says the Pledge of Allegiance after posting the colors at the beginning ofTuesdays meeting of Boy Scout Troop 175. The scouts now meet at Jefferson SquareMall in Joliet, but only on a short-term lease. Finding a new home has been difficult.JOLIET -- Boy Scout Troop 175 is almost homeless. Rightnow, it meets at Jefferson Square Mall, in an old storeacross from the big hollow tree in the middle of the mall offJefferson Street.The troop uses the inside of the tree to interview scouts as part of the advancement tothe next level.In the store, the students sit at tables across from the dressing room.The troop, which consists of 15 boys, ages 11 to 18, appreciates the spot.But Menards can guarantee only a short-term lease for free until the companycompletes its plans for the mall it bought.The troop has until February to find a service organization to sponsor it.
Previously, the Masonic Temple was its sponsor, but now Troop 175 needs someone toclaim it.It isnt looking for money, just a place to call home.Ideally, Troop 175 would like a service organization like the Lions, American LegionPost, Knights of Columbus, Elks or Moose to be its sponsor.Joliet Noon Lions Club offered, but it doesnt have a room where the Scouts can meetfrom 7 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesdays.In turn, the Boy Scouts would be willing to help the organization with its pancakebreakfasts and other fund-raising events."We consider ourselves to be the best of the best.The troop has done very well in competitions.We want someone who really wants us," said Ken Wood, assistant scoutmaster.Parent Tony Alberico is leading the charge to find an organization to sponsor the group.The troop needs a space to meet and ideally a place to store trophies and equipment.While this sounds like an easy task, it isnt. Many of the churches and schools Albericohas asked already have a troop or cant guarantee the room at the same timethroughout the year.Girl ScoutsEven the Girl Scouts are feeling the pressure."I will say its getting tight to find places because we are growing.Some towns have as many as 70 to 80 troops.
There is only a number of places to meet.There are just so many libraries, churches and schools," said Mariam Baker, director ofmembership services for Girl Scouts of Trailways Council.Deby Bowen, co-leader of Girl Scout Troop 111, has been looking for a place sinceJune.Troop 111 is looking for a meeting place for 6 to 8 p.m. Thursdays.The troop needs to meet in its neighborhood, bordered by 129th Infantry Drive, U.S. 6,the Des Plaines River and Black Road.Bowen has talked to nonprofit agencies, car dealers, real estate agencies, hospitals andrestaurants with no luck."With a lot of places, it has been an insurance issue.The insurance companies dont want to take the risk even though the Girl Scouts haveinsurance," Bowen said."We basically tried to think of every place with a big enough conference room to hold 13girls and two leaders."The Boy Scouts have about 1,300 in their area, and the Girl Scouts have 13,745 girls intheir program across five counties, including Will and Grundy.If your organization, church or school could help out Troop 175, call Alberico at (815)744-4871. For the Girl Scouts, call (815) 723-3449 and ask for the membershipdepartment or Bowen at (815) 744-8660.Strong, active troop
Sean Denoyer, district executive of Rainbow Council Boy Scouts of America, said Troop175 is in a unique situation.Usually, an organization comes to Denoyer wanting a troop and needs help startingone.In this case, the troop is established and just needs a sponsor and place to meet."Troop 175 is one of the stronger troops in the area.They are very active in so many things," Denoyer said.One can see them in their uniforms cleaning a mile of the Illinois & Michigan Canal thatthey adopted.In the past nine years, they have collected 14,867 recyclable aluminum cans, a value of$5,202.59.Troops achievementsScoutmaster Christopher Gregory wants to continue to keep his boys motivated and tocontinue to grow according to the Boy Scout oath:"On my honor I will do my bestTo do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law;To help other people at all times;To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight."In the last nine years, the troop had eight boys make it to Eagle Scouts, which is a bigaccomplishment.Only 4 percent of Boy Scouts ever make it to that honor.