By David Wood .....April 12, 2004
My Scouting experience began in the 1930's when my Dad, Hayes S.
Wood, was the Scoutmaster of Miami's Boy Scout Troop 3. My older
brother Hayes and I were mascots enjoying the friendship and excitement
by way of the many outdoor adventures scouting offered at that time.
Never did we know as little kids that we were playing with many
of Miami's future leaders and other professional persons such as
Boy Scout Thomas Tatham who was to become one of Florida's most
ardent supporters of Scouting - the Dade County Boy Scout Headquarters
in Miami Lakes, Florida is named after Mr. Thomas Tatham........The
success of Troop 3 encouraged my father to organize and lead a new
and exciting adventure, along with Troop 3, which he called the
"Greater Miami Drum and Bugle Corps." It became one of
the most spectacular uniformed musical and marching achievements
for Miami's young people in which to participate. The Corp always
took part in parades and was available for public functions of much
importance to the city of Miami.
My second experience with Scouting was as a member of Pack #1, Den
#1, of a new branch of Boy Scouts of America called "Cub Scouts."
We were the first Cub Pack in America. We met at the new Coral Way
Elementary School in Miami. I earned the Lion Badge.
My third experience in Scouting was when I graduated from the Cub
Scouts to the Boy Scouts. I joined Troop 44. The Troop met at the
Shenandoah Presbyterian Church on SW 8th Street and 22nd Ave in
Miami. My Scoutmaster was Fred Sutton - a great guy. I earned the
rank of Star Scout.
I had many excellent experiences while attending Camp Pinnacle
near Hendersonville, North Carolina where Scouting was one of the
camp's important activities. Coupled with camping, hiking, boating,
fishing, riflery, archery, crafts, sports and camping trips to the
Great Smokey Mountain National Park, Mount Mitchell State Park and
many other close-by areas, it was very easy as a youngster for me
to become an experienced camper and lover of the out-of-doors.
My Scouting experience was very helpful to me during my service
in US Army Air Corps during WWII.
In 1954, I met Mr. Charles Berry and many of his wonderful associates
who were having difficulty with the operation of their Boy Scout
Troop #37 which was sponsored by and we met weekly at the Coral
Gables Congregational Church across from the US Veteran's Hospital
(presently the Biltmore Hotel). Their children were members and
they were not satisfied with the management of the Scouting Program.
Their Scoutmaster had resigned. I visited one of their meetings
and noticed that the kids were full of fun, excited to be Boy Scouts,
and wanted to be active participants in a real scouting adventure.
I met with Charlie's other adult BSA Committee Members - William
Middlethon, Harry Mooty, Charles Wheeler, John Barrett, Paul Borg,
William Bates Cole, Herman Hoff, Dr. George Mitchell, Dr. Ralph
Allen, John Royer, Frank Brundage, Dr. John Rumball, Gordon Ring,
Samuel Mathes, David Kitchin, H.D. Kerr, E.L. Duncan, Donald Stiens,
C.C. Cadwallader, J.W. Johnson, Dick Gardner, and Clarence McLeroy
- and was encouraged to offer any assistance I could so the Boy
Scout Troop could become a success and the boy members could have
a realistic scouting adventure. I was very busy completing my studies
at the University of Miami - BS Mechanical Engineering - at that
time. I advised the committee to become active to the point that
they would select an experienced Scoutmaster who would, along with
the committee and family members, participate in advancement, camping,
service to the community, and award ceremonies. I recommended the
immediate purchase of certain camping supplies in order to show
their determination to provide for the needs of their kids while
camping. I heard from the Scouts that most of the time when the
scoutmaster scheduled a camping trip or other adventurous event
that it was called off. So, the adult leaders had failed them many
times. This problem should be met immediately with new camping equipment
and a camping trip scheduled and followed-up by the Committee and
other leaders. This took place at the beginning of a new school
year so a new program could be planned in accordance with School
and National Holidays with ease. Charlie and the committee responded
with the purchase of the requested equipment and I was appointed
temporary Scoutmaster working with Troop 37's Eagle Scout Frank
Brundage as Assistant Scoutmaster..... It was a simple task for
us to review each scout's advancement and attendance record, establishing
an order of seniority in appointing leadership positions, receiving
and storing new equipment purchased by the committee, setting goals
for scouting advancement, scheduling and planning camping trips
and other events necessary for a successful and fun-filled adventure
for the scouts, their families, and the recruiting of new scouts
from the community .... The Troop camped in many sites in South
Florida and the Keys where they experienced opportunities to advance
in scouting while having fun being part of a group... The committee
obtained a bus from the city of Coral Gables for use in camping.
Charlie Berry introduced us to the "12 Hour Grand Prix of Endurance"
12 hour sports car race in Sebring, Florida. Charlie made arrangements
with the race management for the Troop to be part of the race -
responsibilities included: providing services as the Race Color
Guard, crowd control prior to the start of the race and following
the race as the winner's trophies were presented, food service for
timers and other VIP workers, distribution of race publications
for the news media from the Press Booth, and VIP Box holders security
and assistance. The Sebring Race committee paid all expenses. This
arrangement was so successful that Charlie Berry saw to it that
it became an annual Scouting event for Troop 37 for many years.
The Race Committee visited our Troop meetings many times and thanked
the Scouts for their excellent assistance. The Troop 37 Scouts practiced
many hours and for the first time won the Boy Scouts of America
District Marching and Inspection Trophies at the Coral Gables War
Memorial Youth Center (presently Publix parking lot in Coral Gables).
The Troop Committee worked closely with the City of Coral Gables
Police and Fire Departments - so closely that the Troop was always
on call during meetings for assistance if needed. One evening during
a meeting, City Buses pulled-up outside the Church and police officers
requested that we help them locate a child who was missing. Everyone
boarded the buses, went to the sites established by the police and
by Patrols searched for the missing child without success. The child
was found dead the next day. Because of the Troop's success, it
became a problem for our management team to register all of the
boys in our program because Boy Scout Headquarters would only allow
a Troop a maximum of 50 boys. Therefore we sponsored an Explorer
Post 37 (led by my brother Hayes Wood) to care for our older scouts
leaving space for additional boys to become members. Other steps
were taken by Charlie Berry to increase membership beyond the maximum
of 50 because he couldn't disappoint any kids who wanted to become
members. There was talk among the older scouts that they wanted
to change from the Explorer Scouting Program to Sea Scouting if
it were possible. Paul Borg and other committee members checked
with the Federal Government regarding the donation of a surplus
small boat for our Troop's use. A USN Plane Personnel small boat
was made available, our committee had it transported to Miami where
Merrill Stevens Dry-dock Co. helped us complete the repairs and
make it seaworthy for our use. ... The Troop became too large which
naturally caused some problems for the Church such as automobile
parking, loud activities during meetings, minor damage and cleanup
caused by our Scouts. Therefore, the committee re-organized the
Troop and Explorer Post with Boy Scouts of America and were assigned
our scouting units as Boy Scout Troop 537 and Sea Explorer Ship
537. Bates Cole allowed our Sea Scout Ship to meet in his un-used
office space in Coral Gables. We really looked silly in our new
Sea Scout Uniforms. That would soon change with the assistance of
US Navy veterans. Charlie Berry was able to get the approval of
the Coral Gables Elks Lodge #1676 to be the Sponsor of Ship #537
and Troop #537and have the use of its meeting room.
Seamanship for Youth was incorporated by our Attorney, Hayes S.
Wood, as a State of Florida Non-Profit Corporation for the purpose
of providing our Scouting Units with the ability to receive tax-deductible
gifts such as boats, fuel, maintenance - operational - insurance
- maritime material and equipment funding, etc.
The following persons were responsible for the many successes and
opportunities provided Sea scouts during the Ship #537 era: Bob
Clarke, Alan Mooty, D.J. Kitchen, Irene Speith, Al Starks, A.W.
Dunlop, Dr. T.S. Gowin, R.A. Cranfield, Clarence King, Lee Johnson,
David Kitchin, Bill E. Fitch, Bob Wixsom, Harold Van Niman, Blake
Rowland, Cliff Feith, Allen Paul, Jerry Gross, Milt Johanneman,
John Pinder, James Owens, Mike Cummings, Frank Fitch, Victor Gregory,
J.B. Haviland, Ken Taylor, Brian Bees, Doug Quillen, Lucile Steward,
Elizabeth Self, H.G. Deppen, Don Mitchell, Ted Fruitkoff, John Montgomery,
David Kitchin, John O'Leary, Jim David, Wesley Miller, John Nicolas,
Mike O'Leary, Jim Charnley, B. F. Landahl, Norman Pallot, and Johnny
Ship 537 - Unit Activities
Participating in and winning awards in "Predicted Log Races"
organized by many South Florida Yacht Clubs, meeting the Astronauts
and World Renown Racing Drivers, assist in the construction of Elliot
Key Park, visiting the Dry Tortugas - Key West Naval Training Station
- El Infante Spanish Ship Wreck, cruising on Kenneth Keyes' Yacht
Caprice to Bimini in the Bahamas, Cruise Ship Trips to Nassau, Camping
in "Skytop" in NW Georgia, Orange Bowl Parade crowd control,
the purchase and use of MV GAMECOCK, witnessing the Lipton Cup Race
off-shore aboard the USCG Cutter Androscoggin, attending the Sebring
Grand Prix of Endurance 12 Hour Race, providing needed assistance
to many boats in distress, operating the Yacht SEASCOUT to the Key
West Naval Base and return, fishing, skin diving, maintaining radio
operations/assistance when at sea, providing an inspection of the
Yacht SEASCOUT representing the Coral Gables, Elks Lodge #1676 during
the National Convention at Miami Beach, experience maintaining and
repairing boats at Merrill Stevens Dry-dock and at sea, Charlie
Berry getting our own Bus - was painted Grey and had our name lettered
on both sides "SEA SCOUT SHIP #537" - we took many trips
including Cape Kennedy, Jacksonville Navy Air Station, and Patrick
Airforce Base, Christmas Tree Sales, and camping in the Great Smokey
National Park are but a few adventures provided our Ship 537 Sea
Scouts. Many Scouts earned the rank of Eagle and Quartermaster.
Youth Maritime and Sea Training, Inc., was incorporated by our
Attorney, Tom Maxey, as a State of Florida Non-Profit Corporation
for the purpose of providing our Scouting Units with the ability
to receive tax deductible gifts such as boats, boat maintenance
- fuel - operations - insurance - maritime material and equipment
The following persons were responsible for the many successes and
opportunities provided Sea scouts during the Ship #520 era: Charlie
Berry, Rev. Ladislau Biro, Rev. Wayne Odom, Frank and Marie Fitch,
Cleve and Carolyn Jones, Mr and Mrs Bob Johnston, Chip Collins,
Elaine Thickman, Bart and Sara Garey, Mike Cummins, Bill Thorpe,
Tom Maxey, Dr. and Mrs. Sena, C.J. Simmons, Carl Parra, Mario Parra,
Bill Curwood, Brian Bees, Jim Curwood, Virginia Pinney, Howard Thickman,
S.D. Riggins, Jim and Kathy Charnley, Frank Jones, Jim Groves, Orrie
McBroom, Norman Bean, Sil McCall, Mike Manfredi, Jack O'Leary, Larry
Mansfield, Ben Crum, Paul Glazer, Kytle Williams, Phil and Peggy
Kelly, Luther Thompson, Marty Saul, Sam Alston, Earnie Manfredi,
Milo Lee, Jim Saunders, Renny Young, Robert Householder, S.W. Larsson,
Mark Thorpe, John Hackling, W.P. Berry, Hardie Johnson, John Bennett,
John Wilkie, Mr and Mrs Bill Saunders and Mr. and Mrs. Rex Roffler.
Ship 520 - Unit Activities
We met at the Coral Gables Baptist Church and had many wonderful
participating in and winning awards in "Predicted Log Races"
organized by many South Florida Yacht Clubs, meeting the Astronauts
and World Renown Racing Drivers, visiting the Dry Tortugas - Key
West Naval Training Station - Spanish Ship Wrecks, sailing to and
from Bimini in the Bahamas on our Sailing Vessel BLUEY with our
sailing master E. Bart Garey, cruising on Kenneth Keyes' Yacht Caprice,
Cruise Ship Family Holiday Trips to Nassau, Orange Bowl Parade crowd
control, attending the Sebring Grand Prix of Endurance 12 Hour Race,
fishing, skin diving, maintaining radio operations/ providing approximately
300 assists of small boats at sea (many during the Ship 537 era),
experience maintaining and repairing boats at Merrill Stevens Drydock,
Jones Boatyard, Tom Maxey's Boat Houses and at sea, the 72 Ft Yacht
YOREL (a gift to our Unit), overnights in Biscayne Bay, using Mr.
& Mrs Bill Thorpe's home and dock in the Keys, providing assistance
at sea during Columbus Day and other races, learning to sail on
our Sailing Boat "BLUEY" under the leadership of our sailing
masters Bart and Sara Garey, visiting many Churches on Saturday
Nights in order to hear the latest and most exciting Christian music
- the NEW DIRECTIONS were our favorite, for a more family oriented
Scouting Unit we added young ladies to our roster with as many privileges
as possible without compromising our young boy agenda, many at sea
activities aboard the MV's STRANGER, CHARLES BERRY, SHIP 520, and
the SEASCOUT, earning Eagle - Quartermaster - Aircraft Pilot's Licenses
(Flying Eagles) - Parachute Jumpers, earning NRA Awards via our
Riflery program led by Phil Kelly, and camping in the Great Smokey
National Park, Bimini, and the Dry Tortugas are but a few adventures
provided our Ship 520 Sea Scouts. Many Scouts earned the rank of
Eagle and Quartermaster and some became "Flying Eagles,"
Awards Banquets at the Holiday Inn, Coral Way Steakhouse and Downtown
Miami Hotel (with Chuck Zink)
It was necessary for our Seascout Unit to end our relationship
with the "Grand Prix of Endurance - 12 Hours of Sebring Sports
Car Race" when it became evident that crowds (especially the
press) became very unruly and ran over our Scouts. Other situations
regarding the potential lack of safety and security of our scouts
and other friends also added to our decision to withdraw from this
My Scouting experience came to an end in Miami in June 1977 when
Luther Thompson, Mario Parra and Jim Groves agreed to lead our "YOUTH
MARITIME AND SEA TRAINING" Non- Profit Corporation and out
Sea Scout Ship #520 and Boy Scout Troop #520. They carried out their
responsibilities with much success for many years before the Units
Saudi Arabia Boy Scout Troop # 254
During my work with ARAMCO in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, it was reported
that they were in need of someone who had experience in dealing
with a Boy Scouting Unit in the States and who would assist as Scoutmaster.
The Troop met weekly (and on camping trips during the weekend) at
the US Marine Gym at the Consulate. I was appointed Scoutmaster,
organized the Committee - schedule of activities including BSA advancement
and off we went with a family oriented Scout Troop. Many older Scouts
who had already earned their beginner's/younger awards earned Eagle
Scout Rank because of the help of a great many Dads, Mothers and
volunteers from the corporation (the Marines too). All meetings
were only for USA kids, not advertised to the Islam public, no US
Flags on Camping Trips, no "....to do my duty to GOD and my
Country...." stuff in public - only at the Gym. It was a wonderful
experience helping those USA families in Saudi Arabia.
MY THANKS TO YOU .........
I'm thankful for the lives HE has touched through our Scouting
experiences of 24+ years. Some 4,000 youngsters, both boys and girls,
their families, hands-on volunteers, and businesspersons in the
community participated in the success of this wonderful adventure.
Over all of the successful man-planned adventures our HEAVENLY FATHER
protected us from failure. Make no mistake about it, there were
many times that disaster was right around the corner but for the
grace of GOD everything went well and we are left with many wonderful
memories of experiences with friends and the happy times of long
ago. I certainly made many mistakes and possibly lost some friends
during the years I was Scoutmaster/Skipper. However, it is my hope
and prayer that with much vigor only the good times will be remembered.
Praise the LORD.....
It was indeed a great honor to have had the opportunity to be just
one of the thousands of adult and youth leaders, and scouts associated
with our Cub Packs, Scout Troops, and Sea Scout Units. To you, I
offer congratulations for all that you have achieved, and best wishes
as you grasp the opportunities, and confront the challenges, now
before you regardless of your age and position. From our beginning
in 1954 our leaders did their best to stand for freedom and for
the basic moral truths and principles of civic life that are at
once the foundations of freedom and among the great ends to which
freedom is ordered. In our Scouting Units it was always securely
understood that ignorance of these truths and principles places
freedom in dire jeopardy. Today, this understanding makes you very
nearly unique in contemporary thought where it is fashionable to
deny that there is such a thing as truth and to embrace relativist
and subjectivist doctrines that abet the deconstruction of the very
concept of freedom and its replacement by a counterfeit.
Our LORD clearly wants to provide a safe way to freedom and the
abundant life for us when HE says,
"If MY people, who are called by MY NAME, will humble themselves
and pray and seek MY FACE and turn from their wicked ways, then
will I hear from HEAVEN and will forgive their sin and heal their
land." (II Chronicles 7:14)
I still remember some of our old sayings that go way back, such
"A Country to be loved must be lovely."
"Will you leave your kids in good hands?"
"It is no longer right and left, but right and wrong."
"Truth is violated by falsehood but outraged by silence."
"The question is not whether GOD is on our side, but whether
we are on HIS."
Please pardon my poor use of the English language, typos, spelling
and my forgetfulness in not including many other wonderful persons
names and events that made for the success of our Scouting Adventure.