Troop 370 has a long tradition of excellence. The troop was formed in October 1987, and chartered in December 1987 by Pax Christi Catholic Church in Eden Prairie, MN. The first scoutmaster, Mike Zastera, was the driving force creating our troop. Mike had been a Scoutmaster in Richfield for many years. Upon moving to Eden Prairie, he wanted to start a new Troop that reflected the traditions of Scouting he had experienced both as a youth and as an adult leader.
The charter membership of Troop 370 consisted of five 11 year old Scouts, and 4 adult leaders, including Mike. Some of the charter members are still active in the troop to this date.
Troop 370 had its first camping experience in January of 1988. At that time, the Troop set a plan that has lasted for over 25 years - to go camping every month except December, and that winter camping would be a major part of our program. Put into context with the norms for other troops at the time, these were both ambitious commitments not seen in many other places.
The first two years were challenging for Troop 370; as there was not a ready source of money for troop equipment, activities, or trips. The Troop leadership and parents funded from their own pockets most of what was purchased or spent at the time. There were a few donations from other Troops in the area that kept the Troop equipped enough to run a camping program that would appear very primitive today. Scouts and leaders typically slept in canvas baker tents with no floors and cooked over the fire on cookware that had been donated or purchased at garage sales. We could not afford a Troop trailer until the early nineties, so all gear was hauled in personal vehicles to and from each campout and stored at Scouts and leaders homes. Despite these challenges, the Troop only lost one Scout during this period of time, and then only because his family moved across the country, but we gained four more Scouts from the area.
In March 1989, Troop 370 saw its first Webelos den transition, with six members of one den and several members of other dens joining. This group of Scouts, more than any other, would go on years later to set the example for what was expected of a Scout after his 18th birthday, and what level of commitment would be desired from our alumni. Names like Brent Nicklay, Ryan Malotky, Bill Zastera, Brad Sundstrom, and many more were first added to the Troop roster in 1989 when they were 11 year old transitioning Webelos. Many of these scouts are still active adult leaders - either all year round or with the Voyager Bay camp effort each summer. Most of them have returned when requested, at one time or another, to staff particular high adventure trips over the past ten years. They have fulfilled the challenge put forth by Mike Zastera that they should ‘pay forward’ the investment of Scouting in them by investing their time and talents back into Scouting, whether with Troop 370 or anywhere throughout the Scouting program; a challenge still issued to older Scouts today.
Also in 1989, Troop 370 had assembled enough adult leader support and money to attend Many Point Scout Camp for a week during the summer. This had not been possible up until this year and it was an educational experience for all who were able to attend. None of the Scouts had ever been exposed to an official summer camp experience before, and none had been on a Scout camping trip for more than a weekend. Despite this, everyone came home with an increased level of excitement and a focused desire for more.
Over the five years between 1989 and 1994, Troop 370 grew in membership, experience and depth. The first group of Scouts grew old enough to provide leadership to the younger Scouts and the parents and leaders organized a strong Troop Committee. Troop 370 acquired new tents, stoves, camping gear, a trailer, and other items that had previously been out of reach. The first high adventure trip was organized, a cross country skiing trek into the BWCA over Presidents Day weekend, and summer camp had moved to progressively more challenging parts of Many Point's program. This period of time also set in place a number of other traditions that are still a big part of Troop 370's identity. We created a policy of never turning away a Scout and to never kick one out of the Troop. During this time we had our first several District Camporees where we took 90% or more of the awards in Scout Skills competition.
In 1993, Troop 370 also celebrated its first and second Eagle Scouts, Ryan Malotky and Aaron Nicklay. This accomplishment was one that took many years of effort during a tumultuous time and was truly the result of everyone in the Troop at the time, not just those two boys. It was a victory that heralded a tradition of higher than average Eagle Scout achievement in Troop 370 that continues today. Both Ryan and Aaron are still Assistant Scoutmasters today.
The greatest turning point in Troop history, was July 1994, following a week at Many Point Scout Summer Camp. Troop 370's older Scouts and adults, as well as Scouts and leaders from Troop 339 in Richfield, Troop 347 in Eden Prairie, and Troop 123 in Edina starting talking about re-opening Voyager Bay Scout Camp for the purpose of running a more individualized summer camp program. Heralding back to a time in the sixties, when Troops operated their own summer camps with staff from their parents and leaders. This group of Troops went to Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church in Eden Prairie to request permission to use Voyager Bay, a church owned property, after a 15 year period of non-use. Permission was granted and in 1995, Voyager Bay was reopened by volunteers, parents, leaders, and Scouts of the four troops for two separate weeks of summer camp. Merit Badge classes were balanced with work parties to cut campsites back out of the wild, restore the ranges to operation, and re-build the parts of the camp's buildings and structures that had fallen into disrepair.
All of the troops were committed to making their own camp with their own program and staffed with their own volunteers because the quality of programming delivered to the Scouts could be guaranteed to be of the highest quality. Over the next three years, operations at Voyager Bay would expand so that Troops 347, 123, and 370 were each operating their own one week summer camp. Troop 370 would take a lead in improving the camp and bringing both manpower and materials to bear on the facilities. Today, Voyager Bay hosts a wider variety of Merit Badge offerings than either Many Point or Tomahawk Scout Camps.
In 1998, Mike Zastera stepped down as Scoutmaster, following more than 10 years of service to Troop 370. Mike Kistner, who had joined the Troop in 1995 with the eldest of his two sons, stepped in to take the reins and served Troop 370 as its Scoutmaster for the next 5 years. During this time, Troop 370 grew even more to an all time high of 60 Scouts, and then settled back to an average of 40-45 Scouts.
By this time, Dean Malotky, an Assistant Scoutmaster who had joined early in 1989, had taken up the position of High Adventure adviser. Under Dean’s leadership and tutelage, the troop expanded its High Adventure schedule from one every couple of years, to more than three a year. The trips ranged from Philmont in New Mexico, Sea Base in the Florida Keys, Northern Tier in the BWCA, Isle Royale in Lake Superior, Joshua Tree in California, and many other locations around the country.
Following Mike Kistner's five years as Scoutmaster, Troop 370 transitioned Scoutmasters to Don Richard who led the troop for the next 7 years before handing over the reins to Tom Ryan in 2011. Mike Kistner took over the role of Scoutmaster again in 2013. Our leadership is committed and invested in what they do. They enjoy it enough to stay for many years, far beyond the national average for leadership in an average Troop.
A few short paragraphs does not begin to do justice to the long tradition of excellence that is Troop 370. Many more parts of the story exist and if you should find yourself at a campout with Mike Zastera, Dean Malotky, or any of the other countless members of Troops 370, go ahead and ask them about the early years. Along the way from five Scouts to forty five, there have been countless victories and setbacks, gains and losses, trials and celebrations. Each has served in its own way to make us better than we were before at providing a Scouting program among the best you will find anywhere in the nation.
We are a troop committed to growing boys into outstanding men of character, leadership, and integrity. We are a Troop that welcomes the whole family, accepts all new members, and never asks anyone to leave. We welcome you to a Troop 370 event and be part of the Troop 370 family.