Boy Scouts in Orange County are part of the Three Rivers Council of the Boy Scouts of America. Nationally, the organization formed in 1910 and is celebrating 100 years.

The Three Rivers Council covers 10 Southeast Texas counties; Orange, Jefferson, Chambers, Hardin, Liberty, San Jacinto, Polk, Tyler and Newton.

“Scouting serves the community by teaching boys outdoor and leadership skills that will help them become the leaders of tomorrow,” said Mark Walles, founder of Troop 125 in Orangefield that is sponsored by First Christian Church of Orangefield.

“As part of the ‘100 years of scouting’ our local Scout Council, Three Rivers Council, is sending a contingent of scouts to the National Scouting Jamboree in Fort AP Hill, Virginia. This is a week long gathering of Scouts from across the nation,” said Walles.

“Leading the local contingent as Scoutmaster is Mark Milligan and Justice Milligan will be serving as the Senior Patrol Leader, the Scout that runs the troop with the support of the Scoutmaster.  Both of these leaders are from Troop 125 sponsored by First Christian Church, Orangefield that serves scouts from the Orangefield and Bridge City areas.”

According to Walles, “Several other scouts from Troop 125 will be joining the group of around 30 that are traveling to Jamboree this week.”

Orange County is part of the Sabine District which covers the area from Deweyville to the north, Sabine Pass to the south, Orange on the east and Stowell on the western edge.

The troop in Orange with the longest time of service is Troop 1, sponsored by the Knights of Columbus Council 1680. Troop 1 was first chartered in 1914 but lost its charter in 1919, probably due to complications from World War I. the troop rechartered in 1921 and has remained continuously active since that year. In 2011 Troop 1 will be observing its 90th anniversary.

Another longtime Orange troop is Troop 23. Now sponsored by First Baptist Church of Orange, Troop 23 was chartered in June of 1956 and was sponsored at that time by the Jones Elementary School PTA.

Other Orange troops are Troop 7, sponsored by First Baptist Church of Bridge City, Troops 13, 100, and 106 sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, Troop 191 sponsored by the Vidor Evening Optimist Club, Troop 225, sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, Williamson Ward, Vidor, and Troop 402, sponsored by the First United Methodist Church of Mauriceville.

Just as the Boy Scouts have seen a multitude of changes nationally since their founding 100 years ago, scouting in the Orange area has seen many changes.

Originally Orange was part of the Sabine Area Council. That council was made up of troops in the greater Orange and Port Arthur areas. The Sabine Area Council operated Camp Bill Stark located on Highway 87 north of Orange. There was also a smaller camp, Camp Ben Jackson, located in Vidor.

In the early 1970s the Sabine Area Council was merged with the Trinity Neches Council to become the Three Rivers Council. Along with a larger area, the new council found itself with two camps, Camp Bill Stark and the 760 acre Camp Urland, south of Woodville.

Faced with the cost of operating two camps, the council eventually sold Camp Bill Stark and now operates only Camp Urland. Camp operations have been scaled back due to the $1,000,000 in damages to property and structures after Hurricane Rita in 2006. The camp lost 40% of the trees.

Even with scaled back camp operations and the changes in sponsorships and locations of the Orange area troops, scouting is still strong in the area.

Last year Troop 23 was recognized by American Legion Post 250 for the troop’s assistance in the Post blood drives.

Orange troops also participate in the Scouting for Food Drive and other civic service projects. Most troops conduct the annual popcorn sale in the fall as their major fund raiser. There is always a need for funds and volunteers are always welcome to work with the troops.

“BSA” is an umbrella term for all areas of scouting. There are Cub Scout programs for elementary age children beginning with Tiger Cubs at age 7. Boy Scouting begins at age 11 with the boy starting at the Tenderfoot rank and progressing to Eagle Scout. At age 14 the boys can either stay in the Boy Scout troop of move into Venture Scouting or Exploring.

Both of these programs are coed and offer the young person challenging opportunities to learn career skills, life skills, social service skills, or just about anything imaginable.

Venture Scout Crews may elect to climb mountains, or teach disabled people to swim, the field is wide open. Venture Scouts may also become Sea Scouts and part of a Ship instead of a Crew. The Ship is a unit that owns a vessel and learns proper handling, operation, and maintenance of their craft.

To learn more about Scouting in the Orange area you may contact the Three Rivers Council office located at 4650 Cardinal Drive, Beaumont, TX 77705-2797 or call (409) 842-5240.
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National History

The progressive movement in the United States was at its height during the early 20th century. With the migration of families from farms to cities, there were concerns among some people that young men were no longer learning patriotism and individualism. The YMCA was an early promoter of reforms for young men with a focus on social welfare and programs of mental, physical, social and religious development.

BSA had two notable predecessors in the United States: the Woodcraft Indians started by Ernest Thompson Seton in 1902 and the Sons of Daniel Boone founded by Daniel Carter Beard in 1905 in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1907, British Gen. Robert Baden-Powell founded the Scouting movement in England using elements of Seton’s works among other influences. Several small local Scouting programs for boys started independently in the U.S., soon after, many of these programs merged with the BSA.

In 1909, Chicago publisher W.D. Boyce was visiting London, where he learned of the Scouting movement. Soon after his return to the U.S., Boyce incorporated the Boy Scouts of America on Feb. 8, 1910. Edgar M. Robinson and Lee F. Hanmer became interested in the nascent BSA movement and convinced Boyce to turn the program over to the YMCA for development in April 1910. Robinson enlisted Seton, Beard, Charles Eastman and other prominent leaders in the early youth movements. In January 1911, Robinson turned the movement over to James E. West who became the first Chief Scout Executive and Scouting began to expand in the U.S.

The BSA’s stated purpose at its incorporation in 1910 was “to teach [boys] patriotism, courage, self-reliance and kindred values.” Later, in 1937, Deputy Chief Scout Executive George J. Fisher expressed the BSA’s mission; “Each generation as it comes to maturity has no more important duty than that of teaching high ideals and proper behavior to the generation which follows.”

The ‘30s-60’s saw the first Cub Scout program, Scouts’ war efforts during World War II, Scouting’s Golden Jubilee in 1960, and the first female Explorers in 1969.

In 1979, the national office moved to Irving, Texas; 1980 saw the 30 millionth Cub Scout sign up and in 2009 the two millionth Boy Scout made the rank of Eagle Scout.