Orland Park Boy Scout Troop 383 had an extra reason to celebrate as the group observed its second anniversary on Dec. 22.
One of the newest troops in the Nishnabec District of the Calumet Council, Troop 383 earned the Boy Scouts of America's Journey to Excellence Gold Award.
The Journey to Excellence Award is the BSA's performance recognition program designed to encourage and reward success, measuring the performance of units, districts and councils. The award honors excellence in providing a quality Boy Scout program.
"Our troop had to meet a lot of requirements and score points in a bunch of areas," said Troop 383 Senior Patrol Leader Tim Klotz. "We were excited when we had 300 more points than what we needed to make gold."
"They wanted nine community service projects for gold," added Assistant Senior Patrol Leader Will Davis. "Our guys did 15 service projects in 2012," he added. "The project I liked most was helping at the Wounded Warriors Motorcycle Ride. It was cool to see all those riders come out to support the vets."
Troop 383 includes boys in sixth, seventh and eighth grades from School Districts 135, 140, 146 and St. Germaine in Oak Lawn. Members include Jack Barrett, Bob Burns, Davis, Steven Fechtner, Belal Jaber, JT Jakstavich, Tim Klotz, Mitchell Kramer, Jacob Monnett, Jaden Mossman, Colin Motzny, Mark Mueller, Shane Murabito, Christopher Pearson, Vince Scaravalle and Nate Sporleder.
Troop 383 is chartered by the Village of Orland Park Veterans Commission and volunteers at a number of veteran and military oriented events. Commission Secretary Gail Blummer serves as the group's charter organization representative.
"Every time we ask for help from Troop 383, they all show up," Blummer said. "The commission is very proud of them and we love to see the boys interact with veterans of all ages. I've known many of these boys since they were Cub Scouts and I've always called them 'my little patriots'. Now they're my 'big patriots' because some of them are taller than I am.''
"We like to help the vets and I especially like helping at the steak fry because we get to spend time and talk with them," said Burns.
Troop 383 was created by the Cub Scout Pack 383 Webelos Patrol led by former Cubmaster Gerry Klotz who created the troop in 2010 and serves as scoutmaster.
"Each of our founding scouts has a special red 'founder' emblem on his uniform. When we go to scout events, people congratulate the boys for starting a new troop because it's a huge undertaking. Many of them were in Cub Scouts together and their goal is to make Eagle together," Klotz said.
In two years, the troop has doubled in size.
"I like Troop 383 because we're approaching a reasonable size and being small gives everyone more opportunities for activities, finishing requirements and positions of responsibility," said Mossman, who will soon complete his first year with the troop. "I also like that we're involved in so many community events.
Troop 383's largest community service project in 2012 was creating the Orland Park Geochallenge 2012 to celebrate the Village of Orland Park's 120th anniversary. The scouts spent several hours researching and creating the historical tour of Orland Park, which was co-sponsored by Mayor Dan McLaughlin.