Join Troop 979

Top Reasons to Choose Troop 979

We retain the active participation of our older scouts. We don’t know why it happens (or maybe we do) but 85% of our scouts stay active in the troop until they are 18 years old. That is one of the biggest keys to our success. Older scouts leading younger scouts; younger scouts looking up to older scouts. The cycle repeats year after year. It’s a cool thing to be a part of.

We recognize scouting isn’t the only thing in the life of a teenage boy. Our scouts participate in lots of things -- high school football, theatre, YMCA swim team, youth baseball leagues, math competitions and lots more. But the families of our troop make time for scouting too because they recognize the positive effect it has on their sons. We make sure we are flexible with our schedules, and we work with parents and scouts to make sure there is time for more than just scouting.

No Popcorn Sales. Some years ago we struck gold with the idea of an auction as our one-and-only yearly fundraiser. We are now on our 35th auction. It’s just one weekend in March. Everybody pitches in. We make enough cash to fund the year. It’s fun.

We focus on advancement. Our weekly program revolves around preparing scouts to advance through the scout ranks. In order to attend Summer Camp a scout must pass a rank during the year and the leaders are there to guide them and create opportunities for advancement. The lazy scout figures out pretty quickly that he had better get off his butt and get something done or move on. And by no means are we an “Eagle mill.” Our Eagle Scouts earn that rank. We have too much respect for what it means to be an Eagle Scout to allow anyone to just get by with a “pass.”

We have dedicated, quality adult leadership. It starts with Russ Gremel, Scoutmaster for the more than 55 years and continues with his crew of assistant scoutmasters all of whom were at one time members of the troop. Some assistant scoutmasters have sons in the troop and others do not, but all are willing to give their time because they, more than anyone, understand the benefits that come from a quality scouting program like Troop 979.

The Basics

The Longer Story

When are the Troop 979 regular meetings?

We meet every Thursday (minus holidays) during the school year from 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm in the meeting hall of the Congregational Church of Jefferson Park 5320 W. Giddings, Chicago.

What is it exactly that you do at these Thursday meetings?

The weekly troop meetings are broken up into the following segments each lasting about 15 to 20 minutes or so:
Announcements and advice on life from Russ -- Here is when we discuss upcoming events and program highlights and reminders about advancement. This also gives Russ an opportunity to impart his wisdom to the scouts concerning just about any topic imaginable.
ScoutCraft -- This is instruction time on some specific skill. Could be knots, could be astronomy, could be camping, could be first aid.
ScoutGame -- A quick and almost always exciting game that sometimes reinforces the ScoutCraft topic or sometimes is just for fun
Gym Time -- There is a gym in the building that hosts our meetings. We head to the gym for about 20 to 30 minutes of dodgeball, kick-baseball, tug-o-war, basketball or some similar game.
Scout Circle -- This is the end of the meeting when we have a few final announcements, tell a joke or two, and say goodnight.

What kinds of kids make up Troop 979? I’ve never done any scouting activity before, what should I expect?

You should expect to be made to feel welcome; and you should expect to receive guidance not only from the adult leaders but from the older scouts. One of the unique things about Troop 979 is our ability to retain the participation of older scouts and this means that we have 15-, 16-, and 17-year-old scouts who are helping the younger scouts be successful in the troop. We have brainy kids, athletic kids, quiet kids, loud kids -- and every kid in between. For sure, one thing that every new scout figures out pretty quickly is that he can just be himself.

What is this “advancement” thing that I keep reading about?

Boy Scout programs have five ranks -- Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life, and Eagle Scout. During your first year in scouting you start out as a Tenderfoot and pass various advancement tests on things like knots, first-aid, map reading, and fire-building (things you will remember for the rest of your life). These tests will prepare you to achieve the rank of Second Class and are the first steps on the road to advancing to Eagle Scout. Most scouts advance one rank every year, and scouts are required to achieve the rank of Second Class before they are invited to attend summer camp with the troop.

If I join Troop 979 will I get to go camping?

Yes, we do lots of camping. We have four regularly scheduled campouts during the Scout year — October, February (in a cabin), April, and May. On the campouts the scouts work as a patrol (7 to 8 scouts) to build a fire and cook their meals. We devote some time to doing rank advancement stuff like using a compass, or learning how to use a saw, or finding your way with the sun or stars, but we also make sure we leave enough time for a game of football or softball. Plus there is always a campfire on Saturday night. The campouts are well attended and most scouts make it out for at least three of the yearly campouts if not all four. Also during the year, we hike two twenty-mile trails (Fall and Spring) and following a day of hiking, we usually campout overnight.

What about Summer Camp? Does Troop 979 attend a summer camp? Where is the summer camp?

Summer camp is one of the highlights of the year. The troop attends Many Point Scout Camp in northern Minnesota for two weeks — traditionally the last week of July and first week of August. Although scouts are not required to go to summer camp, almost all the scouts in the troop attend year after year. The fact that we are such a large group camping together makes it extra fun. Many Point Camp is chock full of activities from archery to sailing to swimming to wood carving; plus there is lots of time for just hanging out. The cost of attending camp is defrayed by the funds we raise from our annual Troop 979 auction.

Does Troop 979 do any high-adventure camping?

Almost every year a few Troop 979 scout leaders will organize a camping trip into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Minnesota for a select group of six or seven scouts. The right to attend this trip is something that scouts need to earn. The experience gained from these trips lasts a lifetime.

OK. Troop 979 sounds like something I would like to check out. What do I do next?

To find out more, contact us at We will invite you to come to one of our Thursday meetings and there you can get a feel for what Troop 979 is all about, and then you can decide if scouting would be a good fit for you.

Seriously. What are you waiting for? Contact us, and take the first step down the path of learning some valuable skills, making some great new friends, and having a ton of fun.