By Christina M. Wright, Herald Bulletin Staff Writer
ANDERSON, Ind. — More than 30 years ago, Madison County’s oldest Boy Scout troop decided to leave its future troop members presents from their time with the intention it would be opened in 2020.
Their undated red, white and blue time capsule didn’t make it that far into the future, but it still gave Troop 232 a bit of history since its 1926 inception, when they opened it Wednesday.
“It has lots of historical information about our troop that we might not have known,” said 12-year-old Jacob Cole, the troop’s senior patrol leader. “It’s very interesting.”
The current troop members, some of their parents and past assistant Scoutmasters joined Troop 232’s weekly Wednesday meeting to open the mysterious time capsule that somehow ended up in former Assistant Scoutmaster Kevin Etherington’s garage.
Etherington said former Assistant Scoutmaster Tom Matthews brought the case to his home a few years ago along with other old troop items that had been stored at the Lions Club in Pendleton but did not know where the capsule had been before that.
“I put it away and I forgot about it until about three months ago,” Etherington said.
With about 50 pairs of eyes watching their every move, Etherington and current Scout Master Tim Reis worked to unscrew about 25 bolts while the Boy Scouts guessed what could lie within: pictures, a compass, newspapers, patches, flag, epaulets.
“I was expecting maybe a uniform, but this is pretty cool,” said 14-year-old Justin Reis, who has the second highest Boy Scout rank of Life.
What they weren’t expecting were the numerous letters from the former Scouts’ parents, which Justin Reis said were his favorite items from the metal box.
“We’re not going to read these because obviously it’s personal,” Etherington told the boys. “We’re going to see if these people are still around and try to give it to them.”
Also inside was a letter to the current Scoutmaster from the 1976 Scout Master explaining the patches and other items in the capsule, and offering the current Scout Master advice.
“It seems the troop runs along the lines of what the Scout Master puts into it,” Tim Reis read from the letter.
The 1976 Scout Master also wrote about his first Eagle Scout, David E. Allen. The rank of Eagle Scout is the highest and most prestigious level that a Boy Scout can reach. It requires the Scout to initiate and plan a number of projects.
“I am trying hard to establish honor and tradition in the troop,” the letter read. “I feel this is something the troop needs and will help keep our efforts alive.”
Thirty-four years later, Troop 232 has continued the Eagle Scout tradition, with one boy currently working toward the honor and four more who will begin their projects soon.
And they’ve developed their own.
Former Assistant Scout Master Don Jones, who has worked with Troop 232 for at least 20 years, said the troop developed a no-touch policy to solve the “boys will be boys” problem.
“That’s physically and mentally,” he said. “It allows us to have a lot of boys who wouldn’t fit anywhere else.”
Jones said the best example of their troop’s acceptance was a boy who had autism and refrained from speaking for at least six months.
During a competition, when no one else knew the answer to a question, the boy suddenly blurted out the answer and challenged the judge who told him his answer was sort of correct.
“He told him, ‘No, I’ve got it exactly right. Look at Page 176,’” Jones recalled. “That’s what makes this troop unique.”
Tim Reis said he will most likely have the troop’s historian create a scrapbook of the capsule’s items. He added that the current Boy Scouts will put items in the capsule and bury it until Troop 232’s centennial birthday in 2026.
“It’s just to pass on the legacy of the troop,” he said.
Contact Christina M. Wright, 640-4883, firstname.lastname@example.org.