BY BILL BROWN • PHOTOS BY WILL ALLEN-DUPRAW
The briefcase was passed. Troop 33 has a new Scoutmaster.
David Lanar handed the unofficial symbol of command to Tim Miller, as it was handed to him in 2004 when he assumed office.
Lanar served as Boy Scout Troop 33 Scoutmaster for 9 years, Cub Scout Pack-master for 2 years prior, and Den-leader for 5 years before that.
A Boy Scout in his youth – Lanar reached the exalted rank of Eagle Scout at age 14 – he re-upped when his son Bobby became a Cub Scout in 1997. 32 scouts, including Bobby, rose to Eagle Scout rank during Lanar’s term.
Lanar led a generation of Takoma Park Boy Scouts through some of the national scouting organization’s most controversial years during which, under conservative leadership, the Boy Scouts of America denied membership to openly gay people.
On behalf of Troop 33 Lanar officially protested this policy, which the national scouting organization recently moderated to allow gay scouts, but not gay adult scout leaders.
New Scoutmaster Tim Miller was also an Eagle Scout. Like Lanar, he returned to scouting when his son Ryan joined. Ryan is an Eagle Scout as well.
The briefcase hand-over ceremony, held July 27, was in Lanar’s lush back yard. The ground was damp and the air was hazy following a shower, but the clouds held back their rain though the event. The scouts were, of course, prepared for more rain. There were canopies and tarps expertly strung over crucial areas, especially the barbeque grills.
More than half of the approximately 70 people attending wore khaki uniform shirts – but with diverse styles and colors of bandanas, hats, and shorts.
Lanar and his wife Sue Tripp, new Scoutmaster Miller and his wife Sue Fridgen, and other scout leaders followed the flag and troop colors to the front. After the pledge of allegiance Lamar’s son Bobby took the microphone, leading the assembled scouts of all ages in reciting the scout oath and scout law.
Master of ceremonies Carl Elefante introduced Lanar, crediting the Scoutmaster for his son Stephen’s advancement to Eagle Scout rank.
Boyish energy and attitude abounded, from the bellowed verses of “God Bless My Underwear,” to the awkward encounter between the troop colors and a low tree limb. Lanar himself, though grizzled and bearded, had some boyish moments as he spoke to the crowd of about a hundred scouts, leaders, and parents. He joked that the briefcase held secret codes revealing the location of the “Scoutmaster cave,” which featured duct-taped walls, chainsaws, and a 52” television tuned to a non-stop sports channel.
In reality, he admitted, the briefcase held the troop’s charter and other papers.
He told the assembled troop members, parents, and supporters that the troop was “all about you,” not him. He said he was impressed with Tim Miller’s service as a scout leader and was confident that the troop was in good hands.
A dozen Eagle Scouts read aloud a recent-passed mayoral proclamation honoring Lanar and his accomplishments.
Bobby Lanar, 21, said he was responsible for his father’s scouting career. At age 7 or 8 he heard about scouting at school, told his parents he wanted to join, but only if his dad would be the den-leader. His father did, then he became cub-master. A couple of “crazy years” followed, said young Lanar, in which his father was both Cub-master and Scoutmaster.
Bobby said that being a scout taught him leadership and organizational skills he uses as an adult. He is enrolled at University of Maryland, College Park. Sally Lanar, his older sister, recently finished graduate school in Paris, France, and works in Switzerland at the University of Geneva. She returned to Takoma Park for the change-of-command ceremony.