Photo courtesy of Mark Rogers.
Hoover’s Boy Scout Troop 5 celebrates its 100th anniversary this month. A centennial celebration is planned for April 29 at Christ Church United Methodist.
One of the oldest Boy Scout troops in the nation meets every Monday night at Christ Church United Methodist on Caldwell Mill Road. In 1917, just seven years after the founding of the Boy Scouts of America, Troop 5 was formed.
Later this month, the troop will celebrate 100 years of Scouting and service.
Troop 5 has had more than 160 Eagle Scouts in its history, with its Scouts participating in community service projects, Appalachian Trail hikes, weeklong sailing trips and more. Doyle and Francis Kernea, who are among the troop’s longest-serving volunteers, started helping with the troop when their own two sons joined in 1976.
“We could go on for days about memories in Scouting. It’s been a big part of our life for a long time,” Francis Kernea said.
Doyle Kernea served as Troop 5’s Scoutmaster for 12 years. In that time, the troop held camping or hiking outings once a month and longer trips every summer — and Doyle only missed two.
“That’s quite a record,” Francis Kernea said of her husband. “Scouts came first to him.”
The Kerneas were among many parents and Scoutmasters who would serve as encouragers and advisers to generations of Troop 5 Scouts. While Doyle Kernea was Scoutmaster, Francis Kernea would help pack supplies and organize Eagle Courts for the young men receiving Scouting’s highest honor.
“They were always eager to get their Eagle, and you wanted to encourage that,” Doyle Kernea said.
After their own sons aged out of the troop, the Kerneas decided to stay just a little longer to make sure the next group of Scouts had a quality program. They never left.
While the Kerneas don’t go on trips with Troop 5 anymore, they can still be found at the Monday night meetings and giving advice to Scouts and their parents preparing to receive their Eagle Scout.
They’ve stayed involved in the troop for so long partly because they believe strongly in its mission — Doyle Kernea can still name the 12 points of Scout Law — but also because of the good memories they have and the kids they’ve watched become adults.
“We’ve had Scouts go into all areas of professions,” Francis Kernea said. “Sometimes from the merit badges they take, it sparks a little interest in something.”
Among those good memories is a camping trip Doyle Kernea recalled, where the Christ Church pastor prayed for it not to rain during the trip. It didn’t rain — instead, the boys camped through one of the heaviest snowfalls the area had ever seen.
“Be careful what you pray for” became an inside joke for Troop 5, Doyle Kernea said.
The outdoor adventures are one of the most memorable parts for Chris Rogers, one of Troop 5’s Eagle Scouts. Rogers said his father, Mark Rogers, was an Eagle Scout and wanted his son to complete the same honor. While he almost ran out of time to complete his project requirements before turning 18, Rogers said the experience was fun and “well worth it.”
From friends he still keeps in touch with to memories of a campout where their tents flooded and the troop slept on a bus, Rogers said his Troop 5 experiences gave him valuable skills and memories that he carries into adulthood.
“There’s at least one distinct memory from every single campout we went on,” Rogers said. “When I was doing it, I didn’t appreciate it as much as I should have, as I do now.”
Brandon Lazarre, another former Troop 5 member and Eagle Scout, said being in the troop from 1993-99 was “one of the greatest times of my life” and he hopes his two sons will be in a troop of their own someday. Some of the highlights of his time in the troop, Lazarre said, included backpacking part of the Appalachian Trail, a sailing trip from Miami to Key West and back, cave exploration and the Jamboree that gathers troops from across the country every four years.
“It’s just an honor to be in a long line of great men that have gone through it,” Lazarre said.
Rogers, Lazarre and the Kerneas are all planning to come back for the centennial celebration on April 29 at Christ Church United Methodist, to reminisce and see old friends. After 41 years of service to Troop 5, it’d be hard to tear the Kerneas away.
“We’ll probably keep going up to Scouts when we’re on our walkers,” Francis Kernea said.