Scout's project helps preserve troop's past

April 05, 1998|By LISA GRAYBEAL

by Joe Crocetta / staff photographer

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Scout projectScout's project helps preserve troop's past

WILLIAMSPORT - Having no television and few radios in 1922, Melvin Kaplan, then 13, decided he'd join the Williamsport Boy Scouts for something to do.

"All of my buddies were in the Scouts ... Of course we didn't have TV then. We didn't have much to do then," said Kaplan, now 89.

Scouting memories of Kaplan and several others who have belonged to Williamsport Troop 17 have been captured and preserved in a permanent exhibit at the Town Museum of Williamsport. The troop started as Troop 1 of the old Baltimore Council in 1914 and is the oldest continuously chartered troop in Maryland.


A 3 1/2-hour video, 15-page research paper, several albums filled with photos and records, and a collection of Boy Scout relics dating back to the organization's early years were presented to Mayor John W. Slayman and the town in a ceremony Sunday afternoon by the project's creator, Eric Lauver, 15.

"I wanted to do something for the town," Lauver told the crowd of family, friends, fellow Scouts and town officials who attended the brief dedication.

A Cub Scout for two years before becoming a Boy Scout in 1994, Lauver took on the task a year ago of creating the permanent historical Scout display to fulfill his Eagle Scout project.

Logging a total of 296 hours, Lauver directed the making of the video as part of the project that also earned him his 25th merit badge.

The video features interviews with former Williamsport Boy Scouts, including Kaplan, who share their memories and stories about their experiences.

In the video, Kaplan recalls a camping trip in which he and some other Scouts hiked up a mountain to explore a cave, against the orders of his Scoutmaster.

On the way back down, the boys got lost, but they found their way to the mountain's base by following a stream.

"We ended up in the jailhouse for a couple of days after that," Kaplan said, chuckling.

Louver, a Williamsport High School freshman, got the idea for the permanent historical Scout display from Joan E. Knode, events and display coordinator at the museum.

He accepted the challenge because the museum had nothing about Boy Scouts, and the organization has been a part of the town for more than 75 years.

"Scouting, I guess, has withstood the test of time," Lauver said.

Lauver's collection of Scout memorabilia is neatly displayed in two glass cases or hanging on the wall above.

Some of the donated items include parts of old uniforms, medals, patches, old camping equipment, Scout cards, an old sewing kit and booklets.

Troop 17 Scout Master Chris South said in all of the years he's been involved in Scouting, he's never seen a project like it.

"This is a unique project. I thought it was a really good idea," he said.

Lauver's father, Jay G. Lauver, is an assistant Scoutmaster for his son's troop and also an Eagle Scout.

"Eric was really excited about it, but I don't think he realized how big a project it would be. I didn't think it would get as deep as it did, either," Jay Lauver said.

Born and raised in Meyersdale, Pa., Jay Lauver said he constructed an American flag display at a public swimming pool in his town for his Eagle project.

"It didn't take nearly the hours that Eric spent on his project," he said.

For as long as Troop 17 survives, Scouts will continue to add to Lauver's display at the museum, South said.

Anyone interested in watching the video or seeing the display can visit the museum on Springfield Lane from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sundays.

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