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Photos courtesy of Carolyn Kolar.
A collection of badges are displayed. During the almost 100 years of its history, it has had 25 scoutmasters and more than 1,800 members.
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Photos courtesy of Carolyn Kolar.
Walnut desks built by Troop 21 members.
The Boy Scouts of America was founded in 1910. Just eight years later, Troop 21 was chartered by the First Christian Church in Birmingham. It was re-chartered by the Bluff Park United Methodist Church in 1945.
During the almost 100 years of its history, it has had 25 scoutmasters and more than 1,800 members. Troop 21 has seen more than 200 of its members achieve the rank of Eagle Scout.
Its scout hut was built in 1959 next to Shades Cliff Pool in Bluff Park. Inside hangs a “The Order of the Arrow ‘Chieftain’” painting. All members of Troop 21 Order of the Arrow since 1945 have signed this painting with their names and induction dates. A plaque sculpted by Bluff Park artist Arthur Umlauf decorates the hut and depicts the Scout Oath. The names and dates of each Eagle Scout are recorded and displayed on a black walnut stand built by Frank Nelson. An additional stand created by Cathy Kidd supports two Eagle Scout Project books.
Troop 21 is active. It takes monthly trips as well as one or more High Adventure trips a year. High Adventure trips include backpacking at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, sailing and snorkeling at Sea Base in Florida or canoeing at the Northern Tier. Members have hiked the trails at Shiloh since 1956.
William H. Proctor Jr. was scoutmaster in 1946-47. A newspaper article said Troop 21 was unique at this camporee because it used only rustic materials to make a table. Its tents even had “furnaces” in them: holes in the ground filled with heated rocks. Tommy Tucker, a 12-year-old Scout at the time, was warned not to use sandstone since it could explode when heated. Tucker said he has fond memories of Proctor, who drilled them to march in preparation for the Veterans Day Parade. Proctor taught the boys to camp, pitch tents and build a trench around each tent. Tucker credits his scoutmaster for teaching him the skills that prepared him for Marine boot camp, where he even had to teach other Marines how to use a compass. He remembers helping the Bluff Park Volunteer Fire Department fight fires with other scouts long ago.
Noted Hoover resident and Eagle Scout Frank Nelson (former Bluff Park fire chief) taught rifle skills, survival skills and camping.
Troop 21 marches in the Birmingham Veterans Day Parade every year.
For years, they have sold soft drinks and refreshments at the Bluff Park Art Show. Since 1967, Christmas trees have been sold to raise funds for the troop. Eagle Scout Paul Young has helped bring the Fraser firs from a Christmas tree farm in North Carolina. He said generations of families have purchased trees from the Bluff Park UMC parking lot. Some families will only buy their trees from Troop 21. Sales have grown from 150 trees a year to 600 trees this year.
This year also marked the fifth year a yard sale has been held to raise funds.
Sales from the Christmas trees and yard sales have allowed the troop to purchase a new bus and truck for trips and special events.
They marched in the first Bluff Park Christmas parade this year.
Troop 21 won the Award of Merit from President Richard Nixon in 1972 and again in 1979 from President Jimmy Carter. Life Scout Christopher Griffin was presented the BSA National Medal of Merit in 2012 for saving the life of a young girl choking on a piece of candy.
Six adult leaders have earned the Silver Beaver award, the council-level distinguished service award. Dan Strunk is the troop’s current scoutmaster and has served more than 20 years in that role. In 2013, he was awarded the District Vulcan Award for service to troop, district and council.
Troop 21 was recognized as an “Honor Troop” by the Alabama Legislature.
Scouting teaches loyalty, trustworthiness, independence, respect for self and others and many other traits. Paul Young said scouting has influenced how he treats his customers and uses the scouting laws to run his business. He tries to pay it forward so other boys can enjoy the benefits of scouting.
-By Hoover historical society