Subscribe for 33¢ / day
Geneseo Boy Scout Troop 131

Collin Kowitz, a former member of Geneseo Boy Scout Troop 131, takes on the high ropes challenge course one recent summer at Camp Loud Thunder in Illinois City. The troop is celebrating its 100th anniversary this month.


Flipping through old camping, canoeing and climbing photographs, the proud father and scoutmaster can't help but smile and reminisce about summers in the wilderness with his boys.

As the primary leader of Geneseo Boy Scout Troop 131, this month marks a major milestone for Greg Kowitz and his Scouts.

The troop became one of the first official Boy Scouts of America organizations in the region when it gained its charter in 1917, just seven years after BSA was incorporated. 

To celebrate its 100th birthday, the group is throwing a get-together next weekend in Geneseo.

"This doesn’t happen too often," said Kowitz, who has served as scoutmaster for 12 years. "We're trying to do this right."

In the early days, Troop 131, originally Troop 1, held its meetings at First Congregational Church in Geneseo. 

Over the years, Boy Scout councils in the area merged, causing Troop 1 to change its number twice. In 1929, Troop 1 became Troop 31, and in 1959, the crew landed on its current number.

Today, the Davenport-based Illowa Council, which was formed 50 years ago, oversees Troop 131 and 81 other troops in 13 Iowa and Illinois counties. 

Kowitz, a rural route carrier for the U.S. Postal Service, said he has about 30 Scouts ages 11-18 and almost as many adult volunteers.

"We’re very lucky," he said. "We have a lot of people that support us."

The troop performs a variety of community service projects, including cleanups at the Geneseo Izaak Walton League and food collections for the Geneseo Food Pantry. Members also place flags on veterans' graves at a Geneseo cemetery. 

"If someone asks us for something, we'll do it," Kowitz said. 

Although he never participated in Boy Scouts as a child, his three sons joined Troop 131, inspiring him to get involved. 

None of his boys, however, pursued the Eagle Scout rank.

"In the end, it’s really up to the boy," said Kowitz, 59, who grew up in Geneseo. "We're there just as guides."

Twice a year, the troop goes climbing at Backbone State Park in Dundee, Iowa, and Mississippi Palisades State Park in Savanna, Illinois. They also host at least one camping trip each month of the year.

Sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Geneseo, Troop 131 meets from 6:30-8 p.m. every Monday at Cole Cabin. 

Looking back on their history, Kowitz credits former scoutmasters for ensuring the institution's longevity.

"It has a lot to do with the leaders and the way they interact with the boys," he said. "Treat them with respect, and they will respond to that." 

In the coming years, Kowitz, who is "still learning from these kids," said he and others need to maintain an interest in Scouting in their community to continue the troop's legacy.

"If you keep the boys interested," he said, "they will remember it and appreciate it, and it will have a very big impact on their lives."

Editor's note: Look for reporter Jack Cullen's Notes @ Noon Tuesday, Thursday and Friday online at noon. He captures various sides of life in the Quad-Cities. Contact him at or 563-383-2363.


Jack Cullen uncovers different slices of life for the Quad-City Times. He previously covered the city of Bettendorf. When he's not reporting, Jack enjoys coaching tennis and exploring the outdoors.