Troop searches for former Scouts

Published 8:06 am Friday, September 4, 2009

FRANKLIN—Franklin’s Boy Scout Troop 17 is among the oldest troops in the nation. As the national organization of Boy Scouts of America gears up for its 100th anniversary in February, organizers are trying to find former scouts from Troop 17, primarily Eagle Scouts.

“It’s been a very historical, very active troop,” said Tom Jones, a former Troop 17 scout who’s served as the troop’s scoutmaster for about 30 years.

Troop 17 was formed in Franklin in 1913 and has been sponsored by High Street United Methodist Church for its entire existence. Jones said that the troop has records that date back to 1916, but there are gaps, primarily in the ’70s and ’80s.

Jones said the building that the troop meets in is historic in its own right. The building, on Fontaine Street was built in 1947 just for scout troops by a group of men who called themselves the Franklin Friends of Scouting.

“A lot of boys have gone through the doors of that building since then,” Jones said.

Jones said that he has had 73 Eagle Scouts come through the troop since he has been the scoutmaster. Eagle Scout is the highest attainable rank in the Boy Scouting program.

“For a troop this size to put out that many Eagles, that’s quite an accomplishment,” said Jim Strozier, the scouting coordinator for High Street United Methodist Church.

Jones said that all former Scouts are invited to the Colonial Virginia Council of Boy Scouts Camporee on Oct. 3 at King’s Fork Middle School in Suffolk.

“It might be fun for them to come to the scout show and see their old troop in action,” he said.

Troop 17 is rare in its longevity, according to Jones.

“I would say the average troop is 25 to 30 years old,” he said. However, he noted that there are several other established troops in the area. “We have some very long-term troops here in this area.”

Jones said it’s sometimes challenging for the Boy Scouts to compete with all of the things out there for children, but Troop 17 is still strong.

“The troop, like a lot of troops, has been up and down, but we average 35 to 45 kids.”

The young men who have come through the troop over the years would likely say that it “made a positive difference” and facilitated camaraderie among their peers, Jones said. Scouts learn important leadership, outdoor, environmental and life skills.

“They’re learning to lead as well as having fun,” Strozier said.

“We kind of want folks to know that this is happening and come by and visit us at that scout show. I think they’ll get a kick out of it.

“The chance for them to rekindle old friendships will be pretty good,” Strozier added.

“We’re just trying to round up information. It’s a pretty neat troop being around this long,” Jones said. He said that the information gathered now will help in 2013, when the church is planning a big celebration for Troop 17’s 100th anniversary.

Anyone who is a former Troop 17 scout, especially Eagle Scouts, or anyone with information or pictures of the troop is asked to contact Jim Strozier by calling (757) 562-7080 or e-mailing