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From Cold War to the fall of the Wall, Wiesbaden Scout troop has endured

Members of Wiesbaden's Boy Scout Troop 107 applaud their fellow Scouts as they are awarded merit badges at a meeting in Wiesbaden, Monday, Sept. 18, 2017, that commemorated the troop's 60th anniversary.

DAN STOUTAMIRE/STARS AND STRIPES

By DAN STOUTAMIRE | STARS AND STRIPES Published: September 19, 2017

WIESBADEN, Germany — Launched in 1957, the same year as the Soviet satellite Sputnik, Wiesbaden’s Boy Scout Troop 107 has lasted through 11 U.S. presidential administrations and the fall of the Iron Curtain and the Soviet Union itself — all the while teaching children life skills and an appreciation for the outdoors.

It’s rare for a troop in a military community overseas to persist so long. Fluctuations in garrison size mean existing troops are often abandoned and new ones established, said Jeff Stone, the troop’s former scoutmaster.

At Hainerberg Chapel on Monday, Troop 107 celebrated its 60th anniversary and bade farewell to Stone, who served as scoutmaster for 14 years. Stone handed the reins to Adam Bloxom in the summer.

Fifty years ago, the troop earned the respect and gratitude of the nearby village of Naurod when its members helped to reforest the area around the village. In the desperate days after the end of World War II, much of the forest had been harvested for use as firewood. To show their appreciation, villagers erected a monument to the troop.

“I wonder how many troops in the States have a 7-foot monument to their good deeds,” Stone said.

More recently, the troop has been doing an annual cleanup of the American cemetery in Luxembourg.

During Stone’s tenure, 71 Scouts made the rank of Eagle Scout in Wiesbaden and 35 others earned it after leaving the troop. That amounts to about 40 percent of the troop’s Scouts, compared to roughly 6 percent of stateside scouts who earn the rank.

“I think having the American scouting program present over here for boys and girls is a good rally point for them,” Stone said. “Here the kids in one garrison might live in scattered housing areas, or kids living on the economy in different places, and extracurricular activities and school are great ways to get to make friends.”

For all the change in the world over its 60-year lifespan, the troop has stayed much the same.

“The names and faces change, but for the most part, what the Scouts want to do and enjoy stays the same,” Stone said. “They want to hike, get outdoors, leave electronics behind for a week.”

stoutamire.dan@stripes.com
Twitter: @DKS_Stripes

 

Jeff Stone, former scoutmaster of Wiesbaden Boy Scout Troop 107, passes a certificate of appreciation to Dietrich Kroger, a resident of the village of Breckenheim, near Wiesbaden, during a ceremony at Hainerberg chapel, Monday, Sept. 18, 2017.
DAN STOUTAMIRE/STARS AND STRIPES

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