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Troop 235's tree tradition continues

NICE TREE! Greg Oddin, assistant scout master for Boy Scout Troop 235, Lake Geneva, and scouts Gavin Hackney, left, 11, and Jeremy Stenger, 11, both of Genoa City, admire a tree in the scoutís Christmas tree lot at the Dunn Lumber Co. parking lot, 826 North St., Lake Geneva.

December 04, 2012 | 03:48 PM
For folks in the Lake Geneva area, the lot at Dunn Lumber, 826 North St., is a great place to buy the family Christmas tree.

For the Boy Scouts of Lake Geneva Troop 235, the sale of those trees is a great way to plan for their time at summer camp.

Since 1985, Dunn Lumber has donated a corner of its parking lot to troop 235 to sell Christmas trees.

The lot opens the weekend after Thanksgiving and sells until the weekend before Christmas.

Hours are Fridays from 3:30 to 6 p.m., Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The scouts sell Fraser fir and balsam trees. Prices are between $24 and $69 depending on the height of the tree.

Scout Master Robert Brockmann said the boys who work at the lot punch in as if it were a regular job.

They earn dollars from the troop fund that will help offset the cost of going to summer camp, he said.

Brockmann earned his Eagle Scout badge with 235 in 1984.

Every boy has an account, said Brockmann. For the kids, earning money for their scout account is like watching a real savings account grow.

Brockmann, an Elkhorn firefighter said he paid for his way to summer camp as a scout selling trees.

"My mom didn't have the best job in the world, so this helped me get to summer camp," he said.

For Mike Dunn, president of Dunn Lumber, donating a corner of his family-owned company's parking lot every year for the troop's annual tree sales is a done deal.

"How can you not help the Boy Scouts? They've done so many things for the community through the years," Dunn said in an interview on Saturday. "It gives the kids something positive to do," added Dunn, who was once a member of Troop 235.

Bob Dale, an assistant Scout Master with 235, said that selling the trees from a lot goes back to the early 1970s, but that wasn't the start of the Christmas tree tradition with the troop.

"In the 1960s, we used to take orders and go out to a local tree farm and cut to order," said Dale, who earned his Eagle Scout badge with 235 in 1971.

However, in the early 1970s, the troop set aside their axes and started ordering trees from local tree farms.

The first Christmas tree lot was at the Dairy Queen restaurant on Wells Street, Dale said.

In 1985, the lot moved to the Dunn Lumber site, he said.

Rich Kieszkowski, assistant scout master, whose son, Zach, is almost an Eagle, said the the troop orders its Christmas trees from a tree farm in Plainfield.

The Plainfield trees have always been top quality, he said. While working at the lot, the scouts learn to wrap and unwrap trees and to cut the trunks to the right length, said Greg Oddin, also an assistant scout master, Eagle Scout and former member of troop 235.

And along the way they pick up some Christmas tree salesmanship skills, as well, he said.

"This is one of our biggest fundraiders," said Oddin. "This is our Big Kahuna."

Oddin is also a former troop 235 scout and became an Eagle Scout in 1977.

He said it outdoes other fundraisers, including the pancake breakfast and popcorn sales.

Dale said the troop orders about 180 trees.

"On a good year, if you can get $3,000, that can cover us for a year," he said about the tree sales.

Lake Geneva is now home to two troops, the second being Troop 239. But Troop 235 is the older of the two, chartered in 1938, Dale said.

Scouts can choose their troops, and Troop 235 has members from Genoa City and Elkhorn as well as Lake Geneva.

This summer, troop 235 will reach a milestone as it recognizes its 100th Eagle Scout, Brockman said.


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