Grapevine Boy Scout troop celebrates 100th anniversary

Posted Friday, May. 10, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Scoutmaster Don Blan has reason to celebrate.

He heads one of the oldest troops in the history of the Boy Scouts of America. Over several generations, scores of young men from Grapevine Boy Scout Troop 7 have participated in the high adventure that’s the organization’s trademark.

“I got to grow up in Scouting,” said Blan, an American Airlines pilot who became an Eagle Scout at 14. “I enjoyed it that much … I wanted to give back to it. It’s one of the best rewards.”

Troop 7, believed by some to be the first troop created west of the Mississippi, is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its founding.

About 40 to 50 Scouts, alumni, current leaders and families are scheduled to pack Main Street on Saturday to commemorate the historic event. Mayor William D. Tate and other city leaders will take part in the festivities, including a flag ceremony and demonstrations of Scouting skills, camp construction gear, and past and present memorabilia.

“This is an exceptionally busy camping troop,” said Ernest Doclar, committee member for Troop 7.

Indeed, the boys of Troop 7, in grades six to 12, enjoy camping and outdoor activity just about every month, he said. The group holds weeklong summer camps and high-adventure backpacking trips. The boys jump on canoes and are introduced to black-powder rifles.

“You get a boy who has never been out in the woods, and he learns all that stuff in Scouting,” said Blan, who has been scoutmaster since 2007.

The young men learn a number of survival skills, including how to cook without pots and pans, Blan said. They learn how to fry an egg on a stone, on a flat rock or in a brown bag.

They also learn about what plants they can eat and how to “grill” using certain pieces of wood.

“They really enjoy that,” Blan said.

On March 25, the troop was recognized by state legislators. Some 80 Scouts, siblings, leaders and parents traveled to Austin for the occasion.

Presented as Grapevine’s St. Francis Church Boy Scout Troop 7, the group witnessed the passage of Texas House of Representatives Resolution 923 and Texas Senate Resolution 423. The two documents acknowledged the troop’s 100-year history.

Doclar said the two resolutions paid tribute to the important role that the leaders and youths of Troop 7 have played in the life of Grapevine.

Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, R-Southlake, offered the House resolution, while Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, did the same for the Senate.

After the proclamations were read and adopted, the troop awarded honorary troop committee membership to Nelson and Capriglione.

Gov. Rick Perry was out of town, so staff member Ken Armbrister greeted the Scouts, leaders and families and presented a gubernatorial proclamation recognizing the troop’s long tenure. Capitol staffers led tours of the historic building for all the youths and their families.

Troop 7 began in late summer 1913 when Benjamin Richard Wall, then mayor of Grapevine, traveled to New York City on a mission. He wanted to bring back a charter to establish a Boy Scout troop, Doclar said.

That was only three years after the Boy Scouts of America was incorporated.

Wall returned with the document that started the No. 7 Boy Scout Unit Charter, the current Boy Scout Troop 7.

Wall “brought back with him a legacy for all of the boys of the Grapevine area,” Doclar said.

Yamil Berard, 817-390-7705 Twitter: @yberard Marty Sabota, 817-431-2231

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