Camping and Events

History of Troop 175 (and 275)

  Troop 175

In the midst of truck farms, forest preserves and the picnic groves of the northwest suburbs of Chicago, during the booming 1950’s, a Church and School named after St. John Brebuef arose to humble attention. Considering all the other growth in the “up and coming” community of Niles the opening of entities like SJB were quite common. Not too common though for the parents who wanted a little extra for their children. But as the “little red school” house and few other buildings just north of Oakton and Harlem Ave went up, it wasn’t long before people started to wonder what was happening.

They didn’t have to wait too long to find out; total enrollment quickly grew above 500 children. By 1958 the first graduating class of 62 children seemed to indicate that more boom times were ahead. Plans were soon outlined for more classrooms; with the growth in the local population it was only a matter of time before this rapid increase was bound to cause some concerns.

One being that in addition to educating these children how would parents be able to keep them busy; not only out of trouble, but building character – especially the boys.

In those days children were still somewhat “seen and not heard”. Parents were not quite as involved in their children’s lives like they are today. But they were still concerned about outcomes.

By the time of the founding of St. John Brebeuf School, the Boy Scouts of America had been around for over 50 years and had developed a strong tradition of teaching young boys to become good citizens and cultivated the concept of building men of character. Thus several parents of young boys at SJB – who were well aware of the benefits of scouting – decided to start a troop in the beginning of 1962.

They were given the number 175 from the Boy Scouts Local council and Troop 175 was born in June of that year. Mr. Dan Moriarity was their first Scoutmaster. Indeed, Troop 175 was chartered – started as a Boy Scouts of America entity – in June of 1962. The Chartering organization was the St. John Brebeuf Holy Name Men’s Society. By 1966 there were 34 Scouts.

In September of 1964 an additional troop requested a charter by the same organization. A Vasco Matteoni was the Holy Name Societies representative and Gerald Sullivan was the first Scoutmaster of Troop 275. There were 6 paid members – in the following year there were 20. They met on Thursdays at 730 pm. Both troops operated independently but out of the same location.

School Connections

Since inception, both troops have always met and been a part of the Parish of St. John Brebeuf School. Most of their Scouts as well as leaders had either direct connection with SJB Church and School or indirectly through CCD classes or some other ministry.





One early scout – Mike Ellgas (the first Eagle Scout in 175) – remembered how the troop would meet in the basement of the little red school-house. He was a member of the Fox patrol and credits his time in scouting for his strong swimming skills, knot tying ability and love of the outdoors. He was also one of the last Scouts that were not required to perform a service project to attain the Eagle award, but he says it was still no easy task: “Our Scoutmaster used to expect that we knew our first aid. It wasn’t just some casual experience. We spent a lot of time at meetings and in the field making sure we knew what to do in an emergency”.


First aid meet 1970

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First Aid Meet ca 1990


Troop 175/275 has also done its share of camping. Over the years they have camped in many different areas around the home base of Niles Illinois. A frequent locale is the White Pines State park near Oregon Il, which seems to have been a favorite since the early 1970s. The troop has gone there almost every year around June since. It is always very well attended by the scouts.


Tippecanoe State Park 1973

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White Pines 1982

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White Pines 1982

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Chief Blackhawk near White Pines 1982. Built in 1911

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White Pines 1989

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White Pines/Rock River canoeing 2011




Reagan’s childhood home in Dixon Il – near White Pines 2009


White Pines 2010

Scoutmaster Leo Weiss remembered a time when the boys were catching fish from the creek with their bare hands. “I was amazed to see these kids just walking in the middle of the creek, grabbing one fish after another. It was quite a site to see. They looked like Grizzly bears scooping salmon from the Alaskan rivers.”

Andy Beierwaltes, a Scout from the 70s and 80’s fondly remembers camping at the Mississippi Palisades state park. The hiking was great and one year “we were caught in a blizzard. There was over 3 feet of snow and we were in canvas tents. Luckily we weren’t too far from a family member who was a nun at a local convent. She let us stay in the warm house for a while and gave us hot chocolate. That made a huge difference! We also used to explore an old house boat that was left in dry dock. That was a lot of fun as well”

On one event Weiss remembered a planned trip to the Indiana dunes almost didn’t happen at the last-minute. “We had gotten all the supplies together and made our way to the park on a Friday evening, except someone (and it might have been me) forgot to book a reservation at the campsite. This is a really popular place and it’s even more popular on a weekend in the summer. We got to the ranger station and my heart almost stopped when I realized that we had no reservation and they informed us that the park was full”.

Things weren’t looking so good – “I had no idea what I was going to tell these boys. But as I walked back to the car, an older gentleman, who must have heard my discussion with the ranger, approached to let me know that he had a very large farm nearby that had plenty of room for the Scout’s to camp in. It turned out to be the perfect place. He not only had room for us, but he had a solar oven and showed us how to cook with it! His farm was very close to the park, so this was a huge blessing.”


What a nice couple they were!

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And he had tons of room too!!!

The Troop still camps at the Dunes today:

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Other popular local stops are places like the annual Circus World Heritage weekend in Baraboo Wisconsin, held at the Baraboo fair grounds near the middle of May.

They do a grand flag parade:

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Baraboo used to be the Winter home for the B&B Circus and they still have a troupe perform here:

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Seems we’ve been part of the circus a few times

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He’s not in the troop…is he?


(One of the only places you can do some pig wrestling)

The Lincoln pilgrimage weekend in Springfield is also a very popular destination for scouts all over Illinois:

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Lincoln Trail 1975

This and the Grant pilgrimage weekend in Galena have been camping staples in both troops for many years.

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Galena 1982

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Galena 1990

Troop 175 has attended Camp Napowan in Wild Rose Wisconsin likely since its founding. This is usually during a week in July and some years the troop has gone for 2 weeks instead of just one.



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Leaving for Napowan 1982

The troop would also attend Camp Namekagon near Hayward Wisconsin.

Camp Lakota is also common destination. The annual Camporee is a must for all new Scouts. Much of the training and other practice events are held at this Northwest Suburban Council property in Woodstock Illinois.

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1973 Camporee

Many Troop leaders have done their Woodbadge Training at Camp Lakota

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Woodbadge 1978

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Lakota 1978

Old Scout Pics 219


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1991 & 2009 



The Boy Scout Klondike – a popular winter event is also held here.

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High adventure has also been a part of Troop 175. Troop members have gone to Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimmaron NM at least 8 times over the years, most recently in 2011.


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Beierwaltes relates an interesting story. “When we went to Philmont the first time in 1976, six of us Scouts crammed into our Scoutmasters station wagon and drove straight through to Raton NM. He was the only leader”. Things have certainly changed. Nowadays not only would a troop never go anywhere without 2 leaders, but definitely not on a high adventure trip.

Things didn’t always turn out as planned however. He remembered that one “on one trip to Philmont, we stopped in Kansas and a tornado came through. It didn’t hit us directly, but our whole tent went flying through the air. We weren’t sure if we were going to make it. Those were some tense moments”.

“Our Scoutmaster wasn’t really in the best of shape so we spent a lot of time on the trails. Were so lucky we no problems and made it back safe and sound”.

Beierwaltes went back again in 79, 82, 2004 and 2011. “I love Philmont and it is so great that Troop 175 was able to attend so many times”.



Michelle's wedding 7-9-11 505


Prior to it becoming a high adventure base, the troop attended Northern tier canoe base in MN once in the 80’s.





The troop has also attended the national Jamboree many times over the years; as recently as 2013 and 2010. These are massive gatherings of Scouts from the US and all over the world.

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National Jamboree Fort AP Hill 2010


The Summit National Jamboree 2013

They even spent the night on a submarine docked at Navy Pier

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Order of the Arrow

The Troop has had many members of the Order of The Arrow over the years.


OA Conclave 1980

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1980 Order of the Arrow Conclave

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Eagle Scouts

Additionally, both troops always had a very strong tradition of producing Eagle Scouts. This is the highest Rank of Scouting in the US and is only achieved by 4% at best of most scouts. Originally this could be achieved by simply earning 21 merit badges before a Scouts 18th birthday. Over the years the components changed and a service project was added in 1965. Since inception the two troops have produced over 50 Eagles Scouts many coming in only the last 20 years or so when the project has become much more involved and required even more specific tasks and challenges. In the 2012-2013 year there will be 6 Eagle Scout ranks awarded alone for Troop 175. Clearly we have done our job of character building!

Some Early Courts of Honor):


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Kurt Kozeny

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Service Projects

Service is a major element of the Scouting program. Over the years certain rank advancement requirements have begun to include a service project that typically does not benefit the Scout or his troop. Troop 175/275 has done so many that it would take an entire book to describe them all. Some of these include paper drives, recycling drives, park clean ups, scouting for food and food drives. The Scouts have also participated in many parish events – Friday Lenten fish fry’s, fun fairs, flea markets, parish picnics just to name a few.


Chicago River clean up 1972

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Paper Drive 1977


Flag Retirement 2012

Scout O Rama

The Northwest Suburban council used to hold an annual “Scout O Rama” which was an exhibition of general scouting skills for scouts and the public. For years this was held at Arlington Park Racetrack. Both troops would always have a booth and the event was well attended.

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Religious Awards

The 12th point of the Scout Law is “A Scout is Reverent”. The BSA also has special awards for scouts wishing to do extra work within their own faith traditions. Both Troops have participated in these programs and Troop 175 continues to do so today.

The awards for Catholic Scouts are presented at Holy Name Cathedral each year.



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Community Involvement

One of the more popular activities for the Troop has been the annual 4th of July parade run in Niles each year. Over the years the troop has done such things as roasted hot dogs to building a rope bridge and showing it off on a float. Candy is always a favorite. Additionally they have assisted with flag retirement ceremonies each year at Jackman park in Glenview on Flag Day. Attendance at Niles Village Board meetings is a regular event in most years.


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4th of July 1993

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Flag Ceremony 2010


Flag Raising 2010


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Flag Retirement 2012


Village Board Meeting 1991


Over the years the Troop 175 has created many patrol flags. Here are just a few

:1044599_10201669961290151_1126063597_n 175 Ribbons 0012 580485_10201669963770213_1339220190_n 600511_10201669959130097_1975686882_n 941781_10201669959730112_982380510_n 945678_10201669962170173_345486955_n 993906_10201669960650135_1216448018_n 995406_10201669959370103_484658885_n 996498_10201669961850165_1944657073_n 998524_10201669960850140_1505705621_n 998707_10201669960010119_2039019540_n 1000484_10201669961610159_369995057_n 1005294_10201669962650185_173712375_n 1011978_10201669963530207_776678939_n


Scouting takes a lot of planning. Each year the troop leadership gets together to plan the outings and events that will shape them. This is no small matter and the troop has been doing this every year since inception. As some things change, some still seem to stay the same:









Leaders and Scouts

Troop 175 has been in existence for over 50 years now and the troop would not have continued on without the support and leadership that many members of the local community have provided. These tireless individuals below have directly impacted Troop 175 and the program that it provides today.

An early roster:


( Each troop has had at least 10 different Scoutmasters over the years.)

Troop 175

1962 – Scoutmaster: Dan Moriarity

1963 – William Halle

1966 – Scoutmaster: William Feid. 34 Scouts

1970 – Scoutmaster: Ralph Kozeny 28 Scouts

1971 – Scoutmaster: Richard Covey 29 Scouts

1972 – Scoutmaster: Richard Covey 44 Scouts

1973 – Scoutmaster: Richard Covey 34 Scouts

1974 – Scoutmaster: Richard Covey 34 Scouts

1976 – Scoutmaster: Ralph Kozney 31 Scouts

1978 – Scoutmaster: Tom Paustian N/A Scouts

1979 – Scoutmaster: Leo Weiss 21 Scouts

1980 – Scoutmaster: Leo Weiss 25 Scouts

1981 – 1983 Scoutmaster: Joe Gabel

1984-90 Scoutmaster: Rich Zaprazalka

1994 – George Novak.

1994– Cheryl Techen.

1995 – Joan Sniezak

1995 – Jim Kaiser

1998-2004 – David Okun

2004-2007 Bob Galassi

2007-2010 – John Mazur

2010 Pres – Greg Cieply


Troop 275

1964 – Scoutmaster: Gerald Sullivan 6 Scouts

1965 – Scoutmaster: Gerald Sullivan 20 Scouts

1966 – Scoutmaster: William Keeny 15 Scouts

1967 – Scoutmaster: Walter Schuster 16 Scouts

1968 – Scoutmaster: Walter Schuster 17 Scouts

1969 – Scoutmaster: Jack Jensen 30 Scouts

1970 – Scoutmaster: Jack Jensen 16 Scouts

1971 – Scoutmaster: Frank Koch 14 Scouts

1972 – Scoutmaster: Frank Koch 21 Scouts

1973 – Scoutmaster: Frank Koch 15 Scouts

1974 – Scoutmaster: Bernard Namovicz 17 Scouts

1975 – Scoutmaster: Cliff Drexler 16 Scouts

1976 – Scoutmaster: Cliff Drexler 21 Scouts

1977 – Scoutmaster: Leo Weiss 14 Scouts

1978 – Scoutmaster: Leo Weiss 14 Scouts – Terminated and merged with Troop 175

This barely scratches the surface of those who have shaped this great program as leaders not to mention all the Moms, Dad’s, Sisters, Brothers, Aunts, Uncles. Grandparents and many others who have had a positive impact on so many young boys lives through the Scouting program.

Thanks to all who took time to answer questions about this! We look forward to another 50 years.

Greg Cieply – Oct 2013.

One comment on “History of Troop 175 (and 275)

  1. Wilson Gartner
    February 7, 2014

    My congrats to you on your enjoyable to read book. It brought back many, many memories. Memories as a scout, with two troops – CA then NJ. The list of the positions served as an adult is long. and boring some people. Didn’t earn Eagle, just like you, Life. A number of Square Knots are on my uniform including Silver Beaver, can’t be earned. My personal best was earning WB in 1963-1964. That was the National program at Schiff Scout Reservation in New Brunswick, NJ. (gone now)

    Currently inactive, and most likely will stay that way.

    Wilson Gartner, P14, Ts 114, 72, EP122, T22, Dist Comm Staff, P272, EP172, T74.
    Philmont for Comm. Training, 1969, Nat. Jamboree 1977. Retired 1978

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This entry was posted on November 2, 2013 by in Uncategorized.
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The official blog of Scouting magazine, a publication of the Boy Scouts of America.


All The Wrong News That's Unfit to Print is the best place for your personal blog or business site.

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