A Coral Gables Boy Scout troop celebrated its 90th anniversary last weekend.
Current and former members of Troop 7 gathered at the scout cabin for a barbecue while demonstrations were given as well as presentations of memorabilia.
Tory Brieant, Troop 7 committee chair, believes the members and volunteers throughout the years are responsible for making this the oldest troop in Florida and third-oldest in the United States.
“This has been a close-knit community and it’s taken a lot of commitment,” Brieant said. “You see from how people say it was such a great part of their lives. We’ve had difficult years and financial problems, but we’ve been able to persevere.”
The original cabin was built in 1926 by the city’s founder, George Merrick. After a fire burned the original cabin down in 1971, scouts and people close to Troop 7 rallied to build the new log cabin.
The history of the site was the primary theme celebrated.
One of the former scouts in attendance, Thomas Dixon, who was a scoutmaster from 1978 to 1984, talked about his experience as a member of Troop 7.
“Seeing the boys turn into men, seeing them get their Eagle Scout and watching them achieve what they did was my favorite part about being a scoutmaster,” said Dixon, 81. “A lot of the guys that are here now can look back and remember the time they spent growing with one another.”
Another veteran of Troop 7, Wayne Peck, 73, talked about how being a Boy Scout shaped him as a person.
“I learned teamwork, and I also learned things about plumbing and electricity, which I still use today,” said Peck, who was a scout from 1951 to ’58. “To me, it was some of the happiest times of my life. Our leadership was great and very dedicated.”
Peck, who ended up being an electrical engineer for more than 30 years, sat and reflected with his old friend Steve McDonald, who was in the scouts with him.
McDonald, who was a scout from 1952 to ’56, ended up joining the Navy before becoming a pilot for Eastern Airlines.
He mentioned the competitive aspects of being a scout, which helped shape his character.
“We used to have competitions in drill and pioneering all throughout Miami,” said McDonald, father of four. “Somehow, it was always either Troop 7 or Troop 1 who would win. It was a big rivalry, but it was truly a marvelous experience.”
Tim Wensing, current scoutmaster, believes it is important for kids in today’s society to be active and involved.
Wensing’s 15-year-old son, Christian, is a Life Scout and has been a member of Troop 7 for five years.
“The most important thing is that it gets them out of the house. I’m not watching TV with them, we’re doing things,” Wensing said. “The concepts of cooking, cleaning and being right in nature were the same 100 years ago, were the same for me in the ’70s and will still be the same in the 2050s.”