Henry Beitler was a Boy Scout. And he loved it. He loved it so much that when he saw a need for a scout troop in Old Zionsville, he started one—Troop 31.
On Jan. 26 the Upper Milford Historical Society heard Beitler, 94, talk of his 50 years with Troop 31.
Several former members of the troop were on hand to reminisce with him: John Fegley; Wallace Stauffer; David Heintzelman; Larry Stahler, now a leader with Troop 31; Jason Heminitz; and Ron Miller, now an assistant leader with Troop 31.
Boy Scouts came to the United States from England and was incorporated on Feb. 8, 1910, according to Beitler.
In 1933, Beitler began scouting with a troop in Palm. After he turned 18, Beitler became a leader in the troop, taking six boys with him from the Old Zionsville area. But when a seventh boy wanted to go along, Beitler realized he had to do something, since he could only put six in his car.
On June 1, 1941, Boy Scout Troop 31 of Old Zionsville received its charter, meeting at the . However, just four days later, on June 5, Beitler was drafted into the Army, returning home to Old Zionsville in 1946. Fortunately, he said, there were qualified leaders able to run the troop until he came home.
In 1947, Beitler held a Court of Honor for the first Eagle Scout in Troop 31, with 55 more to follow in his 50 years as Scoutmaster. Heintzelman, Heminitz and Miller were three scouts present during Beitler's recent talk who became Eagles while under Beitler’s leadership.
Beitler was selected to be a leader in nine National Jamborees throughout the United States.
Beitler was also chosen to be a leader at the 1967 World Jamboree held in Idaho—the only time the event has been held in the United States. He recalled seeing prairie dogs around the camp and hoping the boys didn’t set up a tent on top of one of their holes. It was quite an experience, he said, meeting boys from other countries.
The Silver Beaver Award is a council-level distinguished service award and is given to leaders who have made an impact on the lives of youth. Beitler received this award in 1964.
Then, in 1969, he earned the highest level of adult scout leader training, that of the Wood Badge. It is the premier course of scout leadership training, and entails grueling and intense training, forcing participants to work together.
Between his leadership in the troop, summer camps and jamborees, Beitler estimated he led and guided more than 1500 boys during his 50 years in scouting.
“We trained the boys to be leaders,” Beitler said. “That’s what scouting is all about.”