Boy Scout Troop 342 in Eden Prairie has a legacy of building young lives and … serving up pancakes—lots of them. Pancake breakfasts aren’t uncommon in this neck of the woods, but Boy Scout Troop 342 arguably hosts one of the largest and most entertaining breakfasts in the area.
This year will mark the scouts’ 53rd annual pancake breakfast, set from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. March 10 at Eden Prairie High School. Guests are offered all-you-can-eat pancakes, along with French toast, sausage, orange juice, milk and coffee. It’s the largest pancake breakfast in the region, serving over 1,000 guests each year, current scoutmaster John Kluchka says.
The event also includes performances from the Eden Prairie High School jazz band and the Eden Prairie Community Band’s Dixieland Group. A silent auction features handmade items by the Scouts and gift cards to local businesses. All funds raised support the troop’s monthly camping activities, service projects, troop equipment and high adventure trips.
Tickets are $25 per family and $7 for individuals. Tickets can be purchased from the Scouts in advance or on the day of the breakfast, and they include more than $20 in coupons for local area businesses.
Established in April 1965, Troop 342 maintains its legacy as the original scout troop of Eden Prairie. It came to life when a minister at the United Methodist Church on Scenic Heights Road asked Ken Hookom and his wife, Allene, to start a Cub Scout and Boy Scout program. Few activities, other than Little League baseball, existed at the time, so it brought more options for kids, Hookom reveals in a story passed down over the years that recounts the troop’s beginnings. Bob Johnston became the first scoutmaster, with Hookom taking over from 1966 to 1969 after Johnston retired.
The Scouts have gone on various camping trips and other adventures from the very start, including a backpacking trip to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. “You hike between 50 and 100 miles in 12 days,” Keel Ross, a former troop member, who went on the trip twice in the ‘80s, says. “That was one of the best things we did.”
Courtesy of John Kluchka
After stopping at an academy on the way to Philmont, Ross was inspired to go to school there. After graduating, he joined the military, met his wife while they were both stationed in Germany and now works as the director of staff for the IT department at United States Africa Command in Stuttgart, Germany. “The troop kind of helped set my whole career path,” he says.
“[The outings] are all over,” Kluchka says. “We do weekend day trips and high adventure outings.” Scouts experience a variety of expeditions, whether it’s high up in the mountains, in the Boundary Waters, at campsites all over the state of Minnesota or an ocean-bearing adventure in Florida.
Today, over 500 boys have passed through the scout-led troop with over 100 scouts achieving the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest honor achievable as a Boy Scout. “There’s no limit on how many kids can join,” Kluchka says. “... but we’ve had significant growth in recent years because a lot of scouts are seeing what we have to offer.”
The troop welcomes all Cub Scouts and first-time scouters. Scouts lead meetings year-round at 7 p.m. Mondays at Eden Prairie United Methodist Church. “It’s very different from other kinds of youth organizations, where the adults lead it, but this is an opportunity for scouts to really build their character, learn how to lead and build that character through example,” Kluchka says.