Sept. 5, 2002

The guys used to just walk out and jump in the (Irvine family mansion) pool.

Former Scoutmaster Randy Morford

Troop 36 celebrating 50 years of scouting

By Kristen Ann Hartman
For Irvine World News

Trustworthy, loyal, helpful, dependable

Before the flag is retired at dusk Sept. 7, 50 years of Boy Scouting will be remembered.

On Saturday, Troop 36's Scout House near Jamboree Road and Irvine Boulevard will be open from 2-4 p.m. to share five decades of scouting history that began in the summer of 1952.

The formal presentation will open with a prayer acknowledging the anniversary of Sept. 11 and will begin two hours of tracing the changes of a troop, a county and a nation.

The troop's first, third and fourth Eagle Scouts will share their memories of the Irvine Co.'s agricultural headquarters back when ranch hands' sons made up the troop, back when they would camp on the land around the Scout House.

"The guys used to just walk out and jump in the (Irvine family mansion) pool," said former Scoutmaster Randy Morford.

The landscape inner and outer has changed in 50 years. The troop witnessed the growth of a city and county, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, economic highs and lows, sociological shifts, technological advances and terrorism on American soil.

An Eagle Scout from every decade will recount what being a member of Troop 36 meant in his respective decade, and a current Scout will share the hopes and plans for this decade. In 50 years, Troop 36 has produced more than 60 Eagle Scouts. Currently there are five.

The Scouts, known by their numbers as well as their names, will be Marc Dale, No. 1, Chris Gustin, No. 3, Michael Williams, No. 28, Alex Chizhik, No. 39, and Andy Bates, No. 49.

Courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful

In 1953, one year after the troop began, its founder, Myford Irvine, and committee chairman William Spurgeon brought the Third National Boy Scout Jamboree to the ranch. More than 50,000 Boy Scouts and their leaders from all 48 states, the territories of Alaska and Hawaii and 26 foreign countries gathered for the weeklong Jamboree.

The Jamboree gave relatively unknown Orange County an opportunity to showcase itself to the nation. Jamborees occur every four years, but the '53 Jamboree was the only one ever held on the West Coast. The Scouts spent the week in a massive canvas city 35,000 tents strong.

To connect the Jamboree site with the Scout House, an eight-mile road was constructed. Today, Jamboree Road is one of the county's busiest thoroughfares.

Enrollment in the troop varied through the years. While the earliest records no longer exist, old photographs show about 40 Scouts. At its height, the troop had 100 and the weekly meeting had to be divided into two one outside the Scout House, one inside. In the early to mid-'90s enrollment dipped to about 15 but has since rebounded to 50.

"The flavor of the ranch disappeared in the mid-'60s," Morford said, because fewer of the Scouts were children of Irvine Ranch employees.

For years a heavy Marine Corps influence existed in the troop. Before the Tustin and El Toro bases closed, Marines helped lead, and their sons joined, Troop 36.

Throughout the changes, the Irvine Co. has remained a constant. The company has sponsored the troop since Myford Irvine founded it in August 1952. In addition to keeping a representative from the Irvine Co. involved with the troop, the company built the Scout House and later ensured its presence as the land around it was developed.

Most troops are sponsored by churches or schools, which can limit their pool of potential Scouts. Due to its corporate sponsor, however, Troop 36 draws scouts from all over Orange County, including Tustin, Mission Viejo, Santa Ana, Orange and Irvine.

The geographically diverse group comes from a variety of religious backgrounds as well.

"I'm proud that we're sponsored by a company, but we put out a lot of kids who earn their religious (merit) badges," Morford said.

Thrifty, brave, clean and reverent

More than 200 people are expected to be on hand Saturday as Troop 36 reviews its community programs. In past years Scouts have built a bridge in Peter's Canyon Park, planted bushes and refurbished a meeting room at the Irvine Ranch Historic Park, built a gateway and covered the adobe oven at Heritage Hill Historic Park and redone several bathrooms at the Tustin Marine base for use by the Orange County Rescue Mission.

On Saturday, Aug. 30, one Eagle project entailed rebuilding a fence at Foothill High School. If not for Rory Vaughn's aid, the fence would have been torn down due to a lack of funds to rebuild it.

Vaughn's project exemplifies the purpose of Eagle projects. They must have a lasting benefit and widespread use for the community.

Troop 36 averages four Eagle projects a year.

When the dinner and speeches conclude, a few final presentations will be made, including a plaque for the Irvine Co., before a time-honored flag retiring ceremony concludes the day's events at dusk.

As the sun sets, the American flag will be lowered to receive a proper disposal. Following decades of tradition, it will be placed in a campfire and burned.

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