EDMOND — Before Scoutmaster Ron Butts wrote on a dry-erase board the names of three nominees for senior patrol leader, members of Edmond's Boy Scout Troop 1 conducted a weekly ritual: They recited the Pledge of Allegiance to the U.S. flag, then repeated in unison the Scout Law.
Affirming that a Scout is “trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent,” members of one of the oldest continually chartered Scout troops in the western United States joined thousands of Scouts worldwide in an expression of citizenship, good character and faith.
The 27 members of Troop 1, which meets every Monday at St. Mary's Episcopal Church, have a big year shaping up as they and 20 adult leaders observe the troop's centennial.
The senior patrol leader elected Monday night — Cheyenne Middle School eighth-grader Jacob White, 13 — will help carry out a program that includes monthly weekend campouts, learning exercises, fundraisers and trips to the Florida Keys, the national Boy Scout Jamboree and Washington, D.C.
In between, leaders and members agree, there will be lots of fun for everyone.
“We are preparing kids for life, and building the foundations of leadership and character,” Butts said.
Troop 1 members are among some 10,000 Scouts in Oklahoma and thousands more worldwide who participate in the program that's more than a century old. The troop began in Oklahoma City and received its first charter in the fall of 1913 from England, four years before the Boy Scouts of America were chartered by the U.S. Congress.
The troop is a member of the Last Frontier Council and has been chartered every year since 1913.
The Scouting program, Butts said, continues to stress leadership and character and helps prepare participants for adulthood. Adult leaders set the example, he said, and the program teaches youths not to be intimidated by talking to an adult. They also have a chance to gain leadership skills.
Troop activities this year will include a homecoming during Edmond's Fourth of July celebration and a recognition banquet in September.
A chartered bus trip to Washington is planned for July, and Butts hopes tours of the White House and other places of interest can be arranged.
“We're hoping the president is in town,” he said.
On the way back, the entourage will stop at the National Scout Jamboree in West Virginia.
The Washington trip will be expensive, Butts said. Several fundraisers are scheduled, including a Feb. 9 spaghetti supper, a yard sale in May and a Blue & Gold Sausage sale.
“We are looking for financial support because it's going to cost quite a bit,” Butts said. Donations are sought for the yard sale, to be held at the church May 4.
In late May and early June, Butts said, troop members will travel to the Boy Scouts' High Adventure Seabase in the Florida Keys. The journey will include a visit to the Bahamas.
The troop's annual summer camp outing in June will be at the Slippery Falls Scout Ranch near Tishomingo.
‘Better young men'
Five Scouts earned Eagle awards during the past year, but Butts said producing Eagle Scouts is not his main goal. Both of his sons attained Eagle, including his youngest, Stephen, a current troop member.
“My goal is to get them all the Scouting skills and teach them along the way,” he said “My goal is to create better young men.”
Matthew Dame, a junior at Deer Creek High School, is an Eagle Scout and said Scouting has benefited him in several ways. He attends Francis Tuttle CareerTech and hopes to become a mechanical engineer.
“I have learned to be a better leader and how to cooperate,” he said. “Cooking, camping, things that will help me in life.”
Garrett Bryant, the current Senior Patrol Leader, is a sophomore at Santa Fe High School and a Star Scout.
“This definitely helps develop leadership. It's a good program and is lots of fun,” he said. “It helps you learn to be independent.”
Troop 1 has been meeting at St. Mary's Episcopal Church since 1994. According to a troop history, the first meetings in 1913 were in the back room of a dental office near 13th Street and Kelley Avenue in Oklahoma City. The Scouts also met for a time at the state Capitol.
The troop moved to a Mennonite Church in Edmond in 1967 before joining with St. Mary's.
Troop 1 shares a former school building on the church campus, and Butts said troop members and leaders appreciate St. Mary's support of the troop's activities.
Several historical items are displayed in the meeting room, including a framed Troop 1 flag from when it was governed by the Central Oklahoma Council, which later became the Last Frontier Council.
Members of the leadership committee are hunting for items pertaining to the troop's history to mark the centennial, Butts said.
“Photos, anything,” he said. “We don't have much from before 1969.”