Thirty-five Scouts and adult leaders from Germany have chosen the Niagara Frontier for their group's first visit to the United States July 9-20.
The region's German immigrant heritage (particularly in and around the Town of Wheatfield and the City of Buffalo) played a key role in the decision, as did the region's well-known reputation for genuinely welcoming visitors, according to organizers.
The co-ed group is composed of Scouts who are members of the Ring Evangelischer Gemeindepfadfinder, or REGP for short, which is an independent parish-based Scout Association sponsored by the Lutheran Church in Germany. The visitors are from the REGP Scout Troops of Harrislee and Schobüll, in the north German state of Schleswig-Holstein. The word for "Scouts" in German is "Pfadfinder," which translates literally as "pathfinder."
Among the sites and events that they will be visiting are Niagara Falls, The Taste of Buffalo, Old Fort Niagara, Artpark, the "Spirit of Buffalo" sailing ship, a Buffalo Bison's baseball game, the Seneca-Allegany Veterans POW WOW in Salamanca, Das Haus Museum in Bergholz, and the Boy Scouts of America's traveling National Centennial "Adventure Base 100" exhibit in Buffalo. A variety of traditional Scouting activities will round out the schedule. Religious services during the visit will be conducted with St. James Lutheran Church in Bergholz.
The group will be official guests of the Greater Niagara Frontier Council, Boy Scouts of America, with Troop 833 from Adams Volunteer Fire Co. in Wheatfield serving as a primary GNFC host group. Troop 8, sponsored by the Cambria Volunteer Fire Co. in neighboring Iroquois Trails Council, will be providing significant assistance with the visitors as well, and Troop 2 from Revolutionary Trails Council in Oneida, will be traveling here to camp and tour with the German group. Members of the 1st Selkirk Scouts, Selkirk, Ontario, also will be part of the picture. Several days in Toronto, prior to flying home, will complete the overseas experience.
While here, though they will be guests for some meals, the visitors will do much of their own cooking, and will be purchasing their groceries at local stores and farmers' stands.Planning and fundraising efforts to make this trip a possibility have taken place in Germany for more than 18 months, with local ground logistics coordinated by the GNFC. This is the first time that either of the German units has left continental Europe for a Scouting adventure, and the trans-Atlantic nature of it has produced more than a little anxiety on the part of everyone, especially the parents.