Hiking is always a popular event with Scout Troop 371 in Saco – as evidenced by this photo, among hundreds taken over the years of the troop, which is marking 50 years with a reunion and celebration on Aug. 14. Courtesy Photo

SACO — Cycling, canoeing, kayaking. camping out, under the stars — or in the rain if that happens —  hiking, and making maple syrup.

Sound like a good time?  Members who joined a Saco scout troop 50 years ago will likely tell you it was, as would members of the troop today.

Back in 1971, a new Scout troop, number 371, was formed in Saco, now called Scouts BSA Troop 371, and they are still going strong. The 11 to 18 year olds meet weekly at the Saco Pathfinders Club at 42 Heath Road — the snowmobile group is their sponsor.

Now, they are marking 50 years of tangible lessons learned while having fun — like all that is involved in wilderness camping, hiking, and a host of other outdoor pursuits, and some intangible lessons too, like leadership skills.

To commemorate 50 years of  Troop 371, there  will be a reunion and celebration at the clubhouse from 4 to 8 p.m. on Aug. 14. The event will be held outside, weather permitting, with access to the building. Anyone with a connection to the troop, former Scouts, parents, leaders, or volunteers, are invited to attend a reunion potluck. Attendees are asked to RSVP to: [email protected], and bring food to share.

How may Scouts have there been in Troop 371 over the years? Well, hundreds.

Assistant Scoutmaster Rob Green said he wasn’t a Scout when he was young — but got involved in 2005, when his boys were of  scouting age.

Steve Littlefield, left, a former Scout Leader and current volunteer with Saco Troop 371 and Assistant Scout Leader Rob Green, right, talk about scouting and the troop on a recent day. Troop 371 marks its 50th anniversary with a reunion and celebration at the clubhouse – the Saco Pathfinders building on Heath Road, on Aug. 14. Tammy Wells Photo

Green said one appeal for him is the values outlined in the 12 points of Scout Law:  “A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly courteous kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent,”  along with the leadership qualities scouts learn from taking part in scouting activities.

Steve Littlefield is marking 32 years with the troop. He was a Cub Scout when he was a boy, but the leaders of the time decided not to go on, so he got involved again when his son was interested.

One year when he was Scoutmaster, the boys took up bicycling — training every chance they got for a big ride. They learned how to change a flat tire, how to maintain their bicycle, and a police officer stopped by the clubhouse to teach the boys about cycling safety.

Kayaking is a popular past time with members of Scout Troop 371 of Saco. Courtesy Photo

“That first year we took a 500-mile trip to Mount Desert Island and back,” Littlefield recalled. It was an eight-day journey with seven Scouts and two adults— one riding along with the boys, and another in the truck, hauling their camping gear and supplies.

There has been an annual maple syrup making event, complete with a pancake breakfast on Maine Maple Sunday for the past 20 to 25 years, pandemic excepted.

“It started as something to keep the boys busy during mud season in March,” said Littlefield.

The Scouts tap trees on a local farm and boil down the sap, making up to 30 gallons a year; and serving some of it on pancakes to eager families on the fourth Sunday in March.

Canoeing has also been a big hit, and Littlefield recalled the Troop’s entry in the Kenduskeag Canoe Race near Bangor, an adventure they took part in for six years.

“We’d practice in the Little Ossipee River as soon as the ice was out,” he said. “And all the kids made their own paddles.”

Hiking was popular this year, said Green, as well as camping.

In years past, there have been trips to Baxter State Park and paddling down the Allagash.

“Everything we did showed off the state of Maine,” said Littlefield.

A little guitar music around the campsite is always fun, as these members of Saco Scout Troop 371 can attest. The troop is marking its 50th anniversary this year. Courtesy Photo

Since its beginning, the troop has had years when there a lot of members, and some when there have been few. Right now, the troop numbers seven Scouts.

Over the years, there have been dozens of members who have made Eagle Scout. This year, there are three, and Green and Littlefield hope some of those who achieved Eagle Scout in the past will conduct the ceremony for the boys this year, set for 6:30 p.m. at the reunion.

Eagle Scout is awarded for a major public benefit project designed, supervised, and documented by the candidate. Projects usually involve more than 100 hours of Scout and volunteer time.

Achieving Eagle Scout this year are Nolan Green, who built a trail in the Moses Woodman Preserve; Orion DeLima, who built a kiosk at the entrance to the trail; and Zion DeLima, who built boxes for retired flags for Saco police and fire stations and the Dyer Library.

As they recalled memories of Troop 371 — of recent events  and those going back years, each spoke of the attributes of scouting.

“Scouting builds self-confidence,” said Littlefield.

The 12 points of Scout Law, “are huge in today’s society,” said Green.

 

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