Mickey Goodson and Carol Hadley with Gary Garrett
Historic Boy Scout Troop 107, sponsored by the Oakhurst Presbyterian Church, was honored by Decatur City Commission in a November 21 proclamation recognizing its 100th Anniversary in 2011. Saturday, December 3, has been proclaimed Boy Scout Troop 107 Day in the city.
Decatur’s Troop 107 is the oldest Boy Scout troop in the metropolitan Atlanta area and one of the oldest in the nation. It was founded in the fall of 1911 by George Scott Candler, a young school principal in Decatur. Candler had been active in church youth work and promised to commit “as many hours as it requires” to establish scouting in Decatur. Attorney Charles D. McKinney was also listed in the 1911 application and provided early leadership for the troop. The Boy Scouts of America had been founded only a year earlier, so Decatur’s troop was one of the first to be established in this country.
Few records survive describing the troop’s first eight years of existence, in the years leading up to and during World War I. Archives of the Atlanta Area Council Boy Scouts of America include the original handwritten application by Scott Candler in 1911 to become a Scoutmaster, and at least one photograph of Decatur’s Troop 1 on an outing in Cleveland, Georgia in 1913. Complete troop rosters have been assembled every year beginning in 1919 to the present. The rosters include a host of prominent Decatur names through the years, with the addresses of both boys and adult members concentrated in the neighborhoods of South Decatur.
Until 1934, Decatur’s troop was known as “Troop 1.” A re-numbering scheme that year assigned new numbers to all troops in the growing metro Atlanta area. Decatur’s Troop 1 ] became Troop 107. For the first 39 years, the troop was supported by a “Group of Citizens” in Decatur. For the past 51 years, different community organizations have served as the “chartered partner” providing meeting facilities and support to the troop. These organizations have included the Decatur Elks Club, Belvedere Methodist Church, Columbia Drive Presbyterian Church, the Samuel Jones Boys and Girls Club and since 1996, Oakhurst Presbyterian Church. The church offers sponsorship to the troop as a part of its ministry to the South Decatur community, and in recognition of the troop’s commitment to serving youth in this neighborhood.
Today the small but active scout troop is involved in monthly events such as canoeing, camping, climbing and rappel ling, backpacking trips to the Appalachian Trail, and wilderness adventures to the Boy Scout’s Philmont Camp in New Mexico. Weekly meetings of the scouts take place at the Scout Hut near Sugar Creek Garden on the property of the Oakhurst Presbyterian Church. The troop’s Scoutmaster Vinny Ferguson has been serving as leader of the troop since 1996. The highly successful Christmas Tree Sales event each year serves as the major fund raiser for the troop. Scouts sell trees on site for several weekends beginning the week following Thanksgiving. Trees are hand-selected by Troop 107 representatives, cut fresh and brought to Oakhurst each weekend. The troop sells premium grade Frazier Fir trees along with roping and hand-made wreaths for doors and windows.
Troop 107 emphasizes citizenship, leadership skills, and character development though a “learning by doing” program focused on outdoor activities. The troop meets each Tuesday evening in the “Scout Hut” behind the church’s lower parking lot. Membership is open to all boys age 11 through 17. The troop is committed to eliminating financial barriers to full participation for all interested boys.
Boys who are interested in joining are always welcome at meetings, as are adults who may be interested in volunteering. Contact Vinny Ferguson, Scoutmaster, at 404-502-9490. Neil Struby is Troop Committee Chair and Scout Bryce Holden is the current Troop Patrol Leader.