Troop 10 reaches milestone

Hinsdale's oldest Scouting group looks back on 100 years of adventure

Hinsdale's Scout Troop 10 has come a long way in its 100 years, its appellation being no exception.

"We were established as Troop 3," said Shreeman Patel, Troop historian and a junior at Hinsdale Central.

How it became Troop 10 remains a mystery, but Patel said its no secret that it traces its beginning to 1923 - at least not once it came to everyone's attention.

"We only noticed that this was the centennial year in the middle of last year," he revealed. "So we were like, 'Let's do something!' "

The Troop held a mini-recognition at its annual pancake breakfast in March, saving the big celebration for Oct. 14, when nearly 100 turned out in the basement of the Union Church of Hinsdale to mark the occasion.

"We collected artifacts and I looked through a lot of archived articles to learn about troop history," said Patel, who scoured more than 200 sources. "I put the material on poster boards for people to see."

The event also featured several speakers. Tom Allen reflected on being scoutmaster in the 1950s through the 1970s. Allen then went on to help lead Scouting at the national level.

Hinsdale's Bill Seith, who grew up in town, joined Troop 10 as an 11-year-old in 1970. He followed in the Scouting footsteps of his father, who was an Eagle Scout in Aurora.

"Scouting was part of his background, I always wanted to be like Dad," Seith said.

He joined the Eagle Scout ranks in high school and would return home from college during the summers to help lead troop campouts. Membership gradually declined in the years following, however, and the troop ultimately entered a decade of dormancy starting in the late 1980s.

Seith's older son, Sebastian, became a third-generation Eagle Scout with Hinsdale's Troop 8 for lack of other options. In 1998, Seith and a few other dads felt led to revive Troop 10.

"Since that was my home in Scouting, it was certainly appropriate and satisfying that I was involved in helping resurrect it," he said. "Slowly but surely, we took it over and grew the troop to over 120 scouts. We organized lots of really entertaining campouts, and we had a couple of leaders who were great at coming up with challenges and good ideas for outings."

He was able to witness his younger son, Calvin, become an Eagle Scout in 2004 through the troop and saw many others impacted, just as he had been.

"It's just really good team leadership and team building. The youth really run the program and come up with the outings," Seith said.

The troop meets weekly at Union Church, which serves as its sponsor. It has both a male unit and female unit, with scoutmasters Steve Bystriansky for the boys and Akhila Palli for the girls.

Originally, Patel explained, there were six different troops meeting out of Union Church. That was because each had a 40-member limit.

"So they just created new troops," he said.

Patel said the Troop has increased the number of campouts every year from four in the early days to eight today.

"Troops are a lot more active now than they used to be," he related.

More than 250 have become Eagle Scouts through the troop, including Patel, who joined in 2019.

"It's been great. It's kind of developed my moral compass, my outdoor skills, my leadership skills," he said.

Seith has been gratified to see his sons flourish in adulthood personally and professionally, which he attributes in part to their Scouting experience. He said it even gave his younger son a leg up on his job application.

"He told me that the CEO said during the interview process, 'I see on your resume that your an Eagle Scout. So that tells me everything I need to know,' " Seith relayed.

Scouting has undergone significant changes in philosophy and become more inclusive, especially in recent years, developments that Seith applauds. At the same time he said Troop 10 has remained focused on preparing young people to overcome life's challenges.

"They're provided with the tools they need and taught to utilize those tools to become successful in whatever you put your mind to," he said.

The girls Troop launched in 2022, Patel reported, and took pride in a pattern of growth that bodes well for the next 100 years.

"Now we have one the biggest girls troops and boys troops in our area," he said.

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean