Generations of Boy Scouts gathered on the Thomas K. Gorman campus to celebrate more than 80 years of scouting and youth character development.

Troop 333 was the first Boy Scout troop in Smith County and stands as the longest-running one. It was formally founded in 1928 and then re-chartered when the East Texas Area Council formed in 1933. The group refiled in December 1932.

The troop was created under Catholic leadership and has been supported by various Catholic organizations through the years, including the Knights of Columbus and the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, troop chairman John Andersen said. At one point, the group held its meetings in the basement of the cathedral.

The troop currently is supported by the Catholic Diocese of Tyler and has its own permanent hut for meeting on the TK Gorman campus.

The group has churned out 83 Eagle Scouts, including three that will earn the distinction this year, Andersen said.

"Part of what we teach our scouts is recognizing and honoring where they have come from," he said. "It's important that we recognize our own history and our own people, honoring what (the founders of the troop) did and letting these boys see, as you get older, you have to give back in different ways."

A short ceremony Monday evening highlighted the group's history with speeches from former scoutmasters.

The Rev. Joseph E. Strickland, Bishop of the Tyler Diocese, offered his continued support to the group and presented them with a crucifix to hang in the scout's hut.

"Christ is the greatest model for scouting," he said after saying a prayer over the cross. "We have the son of God teaching us what is right and teaching us as men what is right and true."

Bill Cox, scoutmaster from 1961 to 1963, told a story of a camping adventure where the mischievous scouts set off fire crackers near his tent, hoping to scare him.

"It woke me up, but I just stayed in there," Cox recalled. "They were so frustrated in the morning. They will swear to this day that I never

woke up."

John O' Sullivan, scoutmaster from 1993 to 1995, said scouting was an important part of his childhood. When his family moved from New York to Tyler, the first thing his parents did was sign him up for Boy Scouts.

"It helped make the adjustment of moving from New York," he said. "Back then we had no idea what were facing in Tyler, Texas. (We knew) they were into the Civil War, and we were Yankees."

O' Sullivan said Boy Scouts impacted him further than his childhood. While volunteering his time in the 90s, he grew close with other Scout dads and families. The relationships lasted beyond the scouting years into true friendships.

"I'm thrilled with Troup 333, and I'm thrilled with Scouts in general"


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