In Nashville, a hundred-year-old Boy Scout troop congregates before every camping trip to gather gear and prepare for sleeping under the stars. Of the most memorable moments in scouting, camping trips inevitably top the list. Although these camping adventures offer education in self-sufficiency and leadership, the long-term benefits reach beyond learning how to tie knots and pitch tents. Camping is where scouts put valuable, lifelong skills into practice. Ask any scout, and they can recall laughter around a campfire in all kinds of weather. Before they embark on these adventures, Scout BSA Troop 31 meets at a newly built structure designed to hold the gear and inspire future scouts. That’s where the fun begins.
“This is a place to store equipment, but it is also a piece of history. Those kids might not remember every detail of their scouting experience, but they will remember this building,” says Larry Brown, Scout Executive of Middle Tennessee Council, Boy Scouts of America (BSA).
BSA Troop 31 was founded in 1920 and has been chartered at St. George’s Episcopal Church in West Nashville for six decades. The troop spent years gathering and meeting on the church’s campus, but when their charter church underwent an extensive renovation and expansion, the old house that served as their storage and gathering place was torn down. In need of a new home, the church generously offered the troop a corner of their campus to build a new troop storage house. As the Nashville scouts enter the building to collect tents, kayaks, cooking gear and sleeping bags, they cross a brick walkway, entitled The Eagle Walk, engraved with names of every former Troop 31 Eagle Scout going back 100 years to 1920.
Scouts and their families raised money to fund the building, which resembles a two-car garage and mimics the architecture of its parent church. It is less about the details of the structure and more about what it represents. “It honors past scouts and is a foundation for the continuing story for all scouts in Troop 31,” Castle Homes President Alan Looney, who built the building, says of the structure. “The building itself represents the history and evolution of the troop, and it is an example of parents and current and past scouts who came together to build a place that encourages community.” As the president of a firm that leads by example and upholds the values of trustworthiness and loyalty and as the father of a Troop 31 Eagle Scout, Alan’s main goal was to create a place that inspires scouts to become leaders. “We are honored to have built the Scout Storage House as part of our continuing efforts to give back to the community and to support the troop for all it has given to my son and other scouts,” he says.
The Eagle Walk, a plaque inscribed with The Scout Law, and a dedication to two brother scouts, are thoughtfully planned features. These elements are meant to inspire and motivate the young men to earn the Eagle Scout rank, the highest achievable rank within the Boy Scouts of America, and preserve a piece of the troop’s legacy.
On The Eagle Walk, Clark Akers can find his name, as well as the names of eight other family members who earned their Eagle Scout ranks in Troop 31. Clark, who helped lead the structure’s fundraising efforts, tells us, “The success of this troop, one of the largest and most successful troops in the state if not the nation, stems from strong parental involvement.” He continues, “Since the program was started 100 years ago, it has taught boys leadership, character, and integrity. This new building helps us celebrate our past and will serve as a guidepost for our next 100 years.”
As the troop celebrates the beginning of a new chapter with their new building, they continue to teach outdoor skills and leadership through camping trips, community service, and merit badge instruction in First Aid, Communication, Emergency Preparedness, and Family Life which are just a few of the 135 + merit badges offered in the BSA program.
Larry Brown expresses his pride in St. George’s Episcopal Church and Troop 31. “Leadership is what makes a troop successful,” he says. “At the church and troop level, there is a tradition of strong leadership, and there is a strong commitment from the parents and leaders to make sure the scouting program is successful. A significant number of Eagle Scouts have earned their ranks in Troop 31. Twenty years from now, their kids will see the bricks with their names engraved on them.” From the moment the scouts see the possibility of having their name engraved on The Eagle Walk, it’s clear that the building is not only a place to gather their gear but a place they can call home. It will serve as a lasting legacy for the troop. As one of Nashville’s oldest troops, Troop 31 has seen unmatched success in membership, community service, and Eagle Scout advancement. This new building celebrates that success.
As Castle Homes Project Manager Josh Smith, who earned his Eagle rank in North Carolina Troop 450, will tell you, the memories of scouting last a lifetime. Working on this project reinforced his appreciation for the relationships and skills he gained from scouting. Alongside Alan, he helped the troop create a building and a legacy that will serve scouts far into the future.