Story by Ammie Bryant, Photos by Jefferson Bryant
“A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.”
Not long after the sun rose on this past Memorial Day, when most Stillwater teenagers were taking advantage of their first official day of summer vacation to sleep in, Boy Scout Troop 822 was awake and working. The young men were raising Old Glory all over town in a show of patriotic pride and as a service to their community.
Since 2002, BSA Troop 822 has provided an American flag service for Stillwater. Businesses and individuals can pay the subscription fee, and the Boy Scouts of Troop 822 will post and retrieve a 3’ x 5’ American flag in front of the designated property on seven national holidays throughout the year: President’s Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Patriot Day, and Veteran’s Day.
The project provides a service to the community and an opportunity for the Boy Scouts to learn skills, including how to care for the American Flag. “Each year we have work days. We make the flagpoles out of PVC pipe. We take the white cap at the top and paint it gold. The boys learn how to care for the flags and appropriately retire flags when needed,” said Scoutmaster James Murray.
The subscription cost for the service is $70 per year, per flag. The proceeds benefit the activities of the Troop.
“Currently, we place 110 flags around town. We send out letters to businesses and personal acquaintances who we think would be interested. Stillwater Medical Center has 31 flags,” explained Murray. “It’s a great way to support the boys’ activities and to get something that they are proud of.”
The funds raised by the flag service help the boys to attend Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. It costs $1,000 per boy to attend. Philmont is the BSA’s largest national High Adventure Base. According to the website, “its 35 staffed camps and 55 trail camps provide an unforgettable adventure in the high country along hundreds of miles of rugged, rocky trails.”
Unfortunately, due to recent fires in the region, the annual trip to Philmont was canceled this year; however, they have other opportunities for outdoor activities and camping adventures at places like Camp Hale in Talihina, Oklahoma.
Founded in Great Britain in 1908 by cavalry officer, Lieutenant General Robert S. S. Baden-Powell, the Boy Scout Movement was intended to help develop boys into good citizens, nurture chivalrous behavior, and help them to build skills in various outdoor activities. Since 1913, the young men of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have participated in the Scouting movement. Because the values of the Boy Scout program matched those of the Mormon Church so closely, the church adopted BSA as their youth program for young men.
According to Murray, the LDS sponsored Troop #822 began in Stillwater in the 1950s. Murray grew up in scouting with this troop, achieving Eagle Scout rank in 1972. His Scoutmaster was Jerry Hurst, a former OSU Physiology professor. Murray has served as Scoutmaster or on the committee off and on since 1994. Murray has had six sons go through the program as well.
“LDS is getting out of scouting as of December 2019,” said Murray. “I’m not sure what will happen to the flag service then.”
Murray explained that as the Mormon Church’s membership increasingly grows outside of the United States, the Church stated felt the need to create a youth program that better serves its members globally. According to a statement from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the LDS church is introducing a new youth development program for both girls and boys that will begin in 2020.
“Some of our boys may choose to continue; they can choose to join other Troops,” said Murray. “I’m not sure what I will do yet.”