- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 2, 2017

Scouting volunteer Bill Morgan enjoys the story of how Chicago businessman William D. Boyce founded the Boy Scouts of America, so when the District’s Troop 100 celebrated its centennial on Saturday, he was ready to retell the tale.

“The story, which is kind of part myth, is that Boyce was over in England and got lost in a fog. Out of nowhere, a kid came up and helped him get through the fog to where he was going,” Mr. Morgan told about 200 people attending a five-hour celebration Saturday evening. “He later tried to tip the young man, and the boy said, ‘No, I can’t do that, sir. I’m a Scout.’ And then the boy disappeared back into the fog.

“So Boyce came back to the U.S., and on Feb. 8, 1910, he incorporated the Boy Scouts of America. That was done here in Washington at the Willard Building,” the scoutmaster said.

From that humble, if spurious, beginning, Troop 1 became the nation’s first Boy Scouts unit, growing so large that Troop 100 had to split off from it in 1917.

“Since we branched from Troop 1, they decided to skip multiple numbers to give us the nice number of 100,” said Scout Nico Acajabon, a rising 10th-grader and longtime troop member.

Troop 100’s inheritors celebrated 100 years of being prepared Saturday evening at the Stone Hall of National Presbyterian Church on Nebraska Avenue Northwest.

Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District’s representative in Congress, and Shadow Sen. Michael D. Brown joined Boy Scouts young and old to mark the occasion, noting that the national scouting organization is only seven years older than Troop 100.

“It is not only the oldest troop in our city; it’s older than a fair number of our historic monuments, including the Lincoln Memorial,” said Ms. Norton. “Keeping any organization in operation for a full century is quite extraordinary.”

In their earliest days, Boy Scouts in the District did not necessarily perform the same important wilderness training they do today. Many of them were the city’s firefighters and policemen.

“Scouts were expected to go into burning buildings and risk their lives to help save the life of another person. No qualms about it. That was the standard fare back in those days,” said Scout historian Peter Bielak. “Sixty-five percent of all the firemen in the District of Columbia were Boy Scouts. Most people didn’t know that.”

Police duty was also on the table, and in 1913 Congress even considered replacing the entire D.C. police department with Boy Scouts because city cops were not performing well at their jobs.

“So Scouts would come in for the day, and their Scout mates would be signing up for police duty. They would go around the blocks, and their primary duty would be to take drunks off the sidewalks and turn them in,” said Mr. Bielak. “Luckily, they don’t have to do so today.”

Ms. Norton said boys these days have a very different set of obstacles to overcome.

“When I was growing up, more boys than girls went to college. It’s the opposite today,” Ms. Norton said. “Now you’re talking to a card-carrying feminist. I have fought for equality between girls and boys and men and women. That means equal. It does not and never has meant diminished achievement of one gender.”

Scouting mom Neena Murphy Martin said the way Scouts connect with young men is going to change thanks to technological pulls on the interests of boys.

“Technology is one of our greatest competitions. Some boys just aren’t as interested in Scouting as they used to be,” said Ms. Martin. “But we don’t shy away from technology, because it is the cutting edge and it’s how we’re [moving forward]. We have several merit badges that involve technology, and we have several STEM programs that involve technology. Microsoft has also been one of our huge partners, so that’s a big deal for us.”

Scout 1st Class Alex Penberthystill said his favorite part of being in Scouting is getting a chance to build his character.

“It teaches us skills — not just in survival, but life skills in how to be a leader or how to learn. That’s why if you put that you’re an Eagle Scout on your resume, it goes so far,” Alex said.

Indeed, Troop 100 is finding success with its own Eagle Scout program. Since its inception, the troop has produced about 130 Eagle Scouts.

Achievements like that continue to encourage former Boy Scout Richard C. Evans, 95 — the oldest Scoutmaster in Troop 100.

“It’s a great organization. For both my son and I, there’s hardly a day that goes by that we don’t reference or use some bit of information that we learned in scouting,” Mr. Evans said. “One of the fellows I was just talking to, who was a Scout 50 years ago, was saying that all of the things in Scouting really haven’t changed.”

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide