Magazine Feature

Scout Troop 5’s centennial to mark 100 years ‘by the book’

Boy Scout Troop 5 historical photo

Boy Scout Troop 5 celebrates its centennial this weekend. In this photo, members look like World War I “doughboys” because they often wore old uniforms belonging to their fathers, especially during the Great Depression. PHOTO: Courtesy of Troop 5

It isn’t a coincidence that the neckerchiefs of Boy Scout Troop 5 are crimson and gold, their logo sports a covered wagon and their nickname is the Pioneers. DU faculty and staffers helped form Troop 5 back in 1910, and the troop has met in University Hall or the United Methodist Church across South University Boulevard ever since.

Ten decades later, Troop 5’s members are still camping in the snow, hiking 14ers, rafting rivers, building campfires, learning to cook, working a compass, playing games, singing songs, walking old ladies across the street and earning merit badges by the hundreds.

Come Saturday, though, they’ll take a break from all that for a special ceremony to mark something even more special: the troop’s 100th birthday.      

“We’re the oldest continually operating troop west of the Mississippi,” says Scoutmaster Scott Dory, a former Eagle Scout from Colorado Springs, Colo. “There have been no gaps.”

Troops elsewhere in the West also claim centennial status this year, with little absolute proof as to which troop is older, he says. No matter. Sept. 11 is Troop 5’s anniversary day and they’re sticking to it, regardless of what other troops in Washington and Utah choose to do.

“We’re all about the same age,” he says, noting that the uncertainty is because Scouting began as a movement, not an organization. Scouting for Boys was written in 1908 by Robert Baden-Powell as training tips for existing groups. It was released in six parts in Britain and became an instant hit, spawning Scout groups throughout the world that wanted to try out Baden-Powell’s ideas.

“People started forming troops on their own based on what was in the book,” Dory says. “It’s possible Troop 5 started that way, too.”

Today, there are more than 28 million Scouts in 160 countries and territories. More than 300 million people have been Scouts since the first 20 boys gathered in England in August 1907, and more than 2 million youths have become Eagle Scouts, the group’s highest distinction.

On Saturday, Troop 5 will recognize missing and unrecognized Eagle Scouts at a special court of honor. The event will cap a wide range of birthday activities and fun that kicks off at 1 p.m. at the Methodist Church at South Warren Avenue and University Boulevard.   

“It’s not unusual that college plans or family events and relocations prevent a distinguished Scout from celebrating this major achievement with a formal court of honor,” Dory said in a release. “We have lost touch with a few young men we’d like to recognize.”

Dory acknowledges that Scouting membership has declined a bit over the years, but he feels optimistic that the movement’s future is bright. Outdoor activities continue to draw boys, many of whom don’t get to camp even though they live in a premier camping state.

“We camp almost once a month,” he boasts. “All over the place. Sometimes it’s 10 below zero and we’re sleeping in snow caves.”

Then, too, Scouting stays abreast of the times, offering merit badges in modern skills and appealing to boys who have other interests and lots of demands on their time. It’s working, Dory says, because Scouting is evolving. But Scouting also works because it stays tethered to core principles that have appealed to young people for decades. The Boy Scout Oath and Boy Scout Law, which emphasize character and fitness, haven’t changed for 100 years.

“I met a gentleman who was telling me about being a Scout in the 1930s and it wasn’t much different,” Dory says. “They’re actually reintroducing historical merit badges that have been discontinued, such as signaling.”

On a world scale, Scouting’s appeal continues to be strong in countries where Scouting’s ideals offset class distinctions.

“Those global things make us different,” Dory says, “but we’re all the same in Scouts.”

For more information about Troop 5, go to

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