Local Troop 15 celebrates 100 years
Sitting on a hillside on the east edge of the rolling hills of Highland Park in East Shreveport sits an unassuming building. Unadorned on the outside, inside it holds a century’s worth of history for generations of children and adults.
It’s the home of Boy Scout Troop 15, and this year, they celebrate 100 years in the neighborhood. The building isn’t original; the original burned some years ago, and the new one was constructed in its place. Here, artifacts and mementos recall the history of the boys and their leaders who passed through the doors.
To celebrate their centennial year, the troop is helping to refurbish their longtime home in Highland Park on Oct. 23.
“We’re having a meet-and-greet at the park,” according to former Scout Matthew Linn. “We’re going to take down some trees that are dead. We’re planting 15 bald cypress that day. And then we are going to prepare the earth for 100 trees. So, we’ll have 15 trees that day marking Troop 15 and then 100 trees that we’re going to be planting the following month representing each year that we have been an active Boy Scout Troop in Highland Park.”
Former local politico Linn maintains an active role in the life of the troop.
“I was a gang member; and the gang was called Boy Scout Troop 15. We weren’t out robbing and stealing and crazy stuff like that, but we were doing good stuff and learning how to provide for a date when we would have to provide for ourselves and looking out for each other and treating every aspect of our actions as a team.”
Linn says in his day, there were almost 100 Scouts in the troop. That number almost doubled, but now, thanks to the many other activities that compete for young people’s attention, the troop hosts about 30 members.
David Lohrey, the assistant scoutmaster, said, “I think there’s more competing stuff. Kids are getting cars sooner. There weren’t video games back in the day.”
According to the of America (BSA) website, Scouting is about family, fun, friends and a lifetime of adventure. It’s described as a place where young people can grow to become their very best future selves.
Traditionally, Scouting is an experience designed for youth in the fifth grade through high school. The program is tailored to teach service, community engagement and leadership development in increasing measure as a scout earns his way to Scouting’s highest rank: Eagle Scout.
According to the national organization, the idea is to give kids and young adults the skills they need to unlock their full potential and live life outside.
Lohrey understands that goal. “I just had a great time when I was in Scouts. I like the outdoors. I want to encourage that and help them get outdoors. And get away from TV screens, iPhone screens.”
In recent years, the organization has been tainted by sexual abuse allegations and lawsuits. To address those issues, the leadership has added new programs to correct the problems. They have instituted BSA Youth Protection. Its mission statement says, “True youth protection can be achieved only through the focused commitment of everyone in Scouting. It is the mission of Youth Protection volunteers and professionals to work within the Boy Scouts of America to maintain a culture of Youth Protection awareness and safety at the national, regional, area, council, district and unit levels.”
Training is required for all BSAregistered volunteers and is a requirement for joining. Youth Protection training is required every two years, and if a volunteer’s training record is not current at the time of their recharter, they will not be re-registered.
Linn said he thinks Scouting also suffers from some poor marketing efforts. “I think it’s a lot cooler than how it’s portrayed. When they show photographs of scouts and Scouting, they just always seem to show some nerdy-looking guy with a bunch of patches, not him hanging off a mountain or hiking. They don’t actually show what happens to (earn those merit badges).”
People interested in Scouting or seeing some of the locals whose photos grace the walls of the Troop HQ will get the chance to find out how all those badges get earned on Oct. 23.
my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to
obey the Scout Law: to help other people at all times; to keep myself
physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.
A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.
The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.