History of Boy Scout Troop 405, Wichita, Kansas
Foundation and first fruits
In 1912, Wichita was the second city in Kansas, and in the United States, to register a troop with the Boy Scouts of America. [Salina was the first.] Troop 405, first known as Troop 5, was the fifth (5th) troop in Wichita to register. Their first official day was January 9, 1915, and they were sponsored by Central Christian Church at Market and Second Streets in downtown Wichita. Walter Love was the first Scoutmaster and the troop consisted of 20 boys.
Troop 5 soon grew to be that largest troop in the city. By 1918, they had exceeded their 32 member limit, and were ordered to split. Troop 1 was the result. Troop 1 met at West Riverside School on Friday evenings, and at the end of December, boasted 29 members.
By 1918, the Scouting movement had grown to the point that additional councils were needed. Troop numbers were then renamed to include their council number. This is when Troop 5 officially became known as Troop 405; the 4 representing Quivira Council.
In the early 1960s, it was common among the troops to have a symbol that was unique to their troop. For Troop 405, they became known as the the “Top Hats”. Their slogan was, “405 is the tops!” The logo, which looked like an old-fashioned chimney sweep’s hat, was printed on their own neckerchiefs, and was painted on their camp boxes and troop trailer. [Pictures included.] The name was lost after the troop was decommissioned in the early 1970s, but was recalled by many of the Eagle Scouts from the mid-1960’s; and is now a fun fact of the history.
Toward the later part of the 1960s and early 1970s, the youth group movement became popular in churches. Central Christian Church, the troop’s sponsor, was experiencing rapid growth in this area and was in direct competition with the troop for male members. The church leadership did not like this, and the troop, feeling that they were only being tolerated, chose not to recharter in 1972. [An attempt to revive the troop in 1973 was made, but did not materialize.]
The troop would not re-form until 1985 when Stephen Bohrer (Scoutmaster, 1985-1988) and Steve Peniston (1989-1990) worked with the Quivira Council to re-start the troop. By this time, Central Christian Church had moved into their new building at 29th and Rock Road, in NE Wichita. Again, the church experienced a significant boom in membership, and it is not known if this had any influence on the decision to let the troop’s charter lapse from 1992 to 1995.
In 1996, Scott Summervill (Troop Committee Chairman) worked with Bud Bryant and Quivira Council to restart the troop. Central Christian Church again agreed to be their sponsor, and they resumed meeting on Monday nights at 7:00 p.m. The troop continued to thrive under the leadership of Scoutmasters David Sutton (2004-2010) and Rick Munn (2011-2013), until it had 75 registered Scouts and adults; at his height in 2012.
In early 2013, the Boy Scouts of America announced a change to their membership policy and Central Christian Church told the Troop and the Pack [Cub Scouts] they would need to seek a new sponsor going forward. At the time, the troop had seventeen (17) Life-to-Eagle Scouts. Many of these families expressed their desire to leave Scouting, but not before their sons earned their Eagle rank. At year end, 11 of the 17 had earned their Eagle, and a significant portion of the troop had left Scouting for good, or to join Trail Life USA, an alternative organization.
In 2014, the troop had found a new sponsor, Chapel Hill United Methodist Church, and had a new Scoutmaster, Mike Todd. Since Chapel Hill was undergoing a major expansion project, the troop met at Calvary United Methodist Church [just south of Central Christian on Rock Rd] for the first five months of the year. [They continued to take the summers off; except for a week of summer camp.] The troop held its first meeting at Chapel Hill in September. [The pack disband at the end of 2013 because the Cub- master transferred out-of-state with his job; and they had not heard that the troop had found a new sponsor.]
Troop 405 has a strong history of Scouts earning their Eagle rank. In the 84 years they’ve been chartered, there have been 81 (as of December 2016) young men from the troop earn this honor. Many of their adult leaders are Eagle Scouts as well.
The Troop Today
The troop continues meeting on Monday nights at 7:00 p.m. in Room LL5 at Chapel Hill United Methodist Church at 1550 N. Chapel Hill St. in Wichita, KS. Mike Todd is the Scoutmaster. Don Williams, a 20+ year volunteer with the troop, is the Assistant Scoutmaster. Rex Keith is Troop Committee Chair, and Kris Keith serves as Troop Treasurer and Secretary. As of April 2017, there are 12 registered youth and 15 adults. Three of the recent Eagle Scouts continue serving the troop as mentors and junior Assistant Scoutmasters. The troop continues the tradition of taking the summers off; except for a week of summer camp at QSR [Quivira Scout Ranch, Sedan, KS], Medicine Mountain [Custer, SD], or one of the camps in Colorado.
Compiled by Kris Keith, Troop 405 Treasurer (2013+), April 2017. A “Resource, Contact Information & Note” document is available in the back of the History of Troop 405 (bright green) notebook; as is a complete listing of Troop 405’s Eagle Scouts (1915-2016) and Scoutmasters. A second book of history was given to the current Scoutmaster, and is to be handed down with each consecutive one. **If either notebook can not be located, contact Kris Keith. She has the documentation on her Acer Chromebook laptop.**