It’s a local group that’s grown into a national treasure. The Boston Crusaders was founded over 77 years ago in Hyde Park, and the band now attracts young people from all over the world. The crusaders are currently on the road, but recently made a stop in Groton.

Among this year’s group is 17-year-old Amber Padgett of Dorchester. This is her second year as a dancer with the traveling drum and bugle corps.

I love the family setting. You can go up to anyone and know that you can have a conversation with them," she said. "I’ve met people from around the United States, some people from Taiwan, Japan, Canada.”

Executive director Chris Holland runs the summer program that includes 100 performers. They include drummers, horn players and dancers, mostly teenagers and all under 21. Holland says traveling is part of the experience.

“We travel the country, do over 13,000 miles and over 30 performance shows," he said.  

They perform in places like Chicago, Texas and California and have even graced the stage with the Boston Pops — not bad for a band that started 77 years ago out of offices in Hyde Park.

The Boston Crusaders have grown to attract some of the best young, international performers. About 750 people from around the world audition and the group leaders pick the best. Local performers like Katie Tingley from Orleans are especially welcome. This is her first year with the group. 

“I just thought I’d audition here and I made a spot and I got to play Murrumba, and I am super excited," she said.

The fee to join the group for the three-month tour is $3,000, which can create a hardship for some performers, so over 40 percent of them receive some type of financial aid and assistance. Those scholarships and donations cover the cost of travel, housing and food which ends up costing about $8,000 per band member. Many, like Amber Padgett and Katie Tingley, wouldn’t be part of the group without the help. 

“I think it’s really important that they help the students because for me, learning is so much and so important," said Padgett.

“I got a discount just for being from Massachusetts, so that was great," Tingley added, "and a lot of people don’t have the means to do this experience, but it’s an experience worth having."

Aside from the travel and performances, students take educational trips. Chris Holland also has a non-profit called Inspire Arts that brings music and arts to neighborhoods like Dorchester, where members of the Boston Crusaders and other groups teach and perform with the participants. That’s just another way the hometown super group stays grounded.