Menu

About Us

Troop 69 was formed in 1946 by a group of men known as "The Men of Princeton" (the troop had been previously formed in 1941, but dissolved because of the war.)  A young and single Norman Benson became the first scoutmaster with James Sasser as his assistant.  The first committee consisted of Norman's father, TR. Benson, Sr., George Cooper, Sr., Robert McDonal and Charles Crauswell.

They originally met at Dade County Health Extension building on U.S. Highway 1 at 248th Street.  The site is now an Ace Hardware Store (formerly Mullin and Mullin Hardware.)  Princeton Church of the Nazarene was the original sponsor, later alternating with Silver Palm United Methodist Church.

Norman started the tradition of extensive camping from the outset.  He procured an old school bus to facilitate long range trips.  The troop established its tradition of meeting out in the woods, first in a series of shacks on Cooper Road and later at the first “Hut”.

George Cooper initiated the first Spaghetti Dinner in 1950 to raise money for the troop.  A totem pole was raised on the highway to advertise and another tradition was begun.  There have been several totems since, the last having been brought down Hurricane Andrew (plans are being drawn up for a new totem for the ceremonial ring at the “Hut”.)  That first dinner was cooked up by the Scouts and was unanimously declared a disaster.  Ever since then the parents have done the cooking and there have been dinners where as many as 875 meals were served. 

In 1968 the troop moved to its present location after vandals burned down the original “Hut”.  The ten acres are leased form Dade County for $1.00 a year in an agreement.  The “Hut” incarnation was originally a traditional chickee of thatched palmetto fronds which the scouts would refurbish each year.  Fronds were harvested from the Everglades and a nearby Naval Base and it took four truckloads to complete the job with older Scouts doing the re-thatching while the younger Scouts passed bundles of fronds from below. 

The palmetto thatching was replaced with a corrugated metal roof in the summer of 1992 shortly before Hurricane Andrew struck.  It was rebuilt again with the current plywood sheath and asphalt shingle roof now inplace.  The lecturn is the original for the first “Hut”.

There are countless stories to be told and we are going to endeavor to record everything we can find.  Norman has written a five hundred page manuscript complete with photos, drwings and maps detailing the first 17 years of the troop while he was Scoutmaster.  We are lucky enough to have most of the troop’s Scoutmasters with us today.  We also have an extensive roster of past Scout members, Scouts and Scouters, along with stories from the troops history.  It may be printed or perhaps published on CD ROM or perhaps both.

Who remembers swapping that dog of a straight six in the bus with a huge V-8 extracted from a Cadillac at the dump?  Cow patty fights on the Peace River?  Being chased away from the wild blueberries by a bear in the Smokies?  Survival without food at Fish Eating Creek?  Survival without shelter with Marco’s mosquitoes?!

How about “Unto These Hills”, the passion play at Cherokee?  Or the quote that hung inside the Hut…”When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child, but when I became a man I put away childish things.”

I know each and every Alumnus has some memories to share.  Something that will rekindle fond memories in others.  We would really like to collect these and protect them from being lost.  Maps, photos, newspaper clippings and even old patches can be scanned and returned without damage, electronically saved for others to enjoy.  We hope you will join us in our endeavor.

(reprinted from “Boy Scout Troop 69 Celebrates 50 Years of Scouting 1946-1996”)