The Boy Scout Troop 1 “Scout Shack,” just east of the intersection of Nassau and 34th streets in Everett, will host an open house 5-7 p.m. Wednesday. Once a military barrack at Paine Field, the building is in need of repairs. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Everett Boy Scout troop fundraising to renovate ‘Scout Shack’

Its history stretches back 103 years, but Everett’s Boy Scout Troop 1 is taking steps to bring its rustic meeting place into the new millennium.

The troop, chartered by Everett Elks Lodge No. 479 in 1914, is inviting the public to visit its “Scout Shack.” An open house is scheduled for 5-7 p.m. Wednesday. The building is a World War II-era barrack donated to the Elks and moved from Paine Field.

For decades, boys from Troop 1 have met at the shack, which is tucked away just east of the intersection of 34th and Nassau streets in Everett. The site backs up to a woodsy ravine. And the building, not far from Providence Regional Medical Center Everett’s Pacific Campus, has seen better days.

Benjamin Hayes, Troop 1 scoutmaster, said the open house is an opportunity to show the need for renovations. “We are looking for donations to fix the place,” said Hayes, a 30-year-old Boeing engineer and troop leader for two years.

The Scout Shack has electricity and heat, but is now without running water or a flush toilet. Hayes and 77-year-old John Estie, who for years was the Everett Elks liaison officer to Troop 1, said the group needs a minimum of $5,000 for repairs.

“It’s hard to get new families to join the troop if we don’t have basic amenities,” Hayes said.

The scoutmaster said there are now just five boys in Troop 1, the fewest allowed for the group to continue. Troop 1 is part of Boys Scouts of America’s Mount Baker Council, which includes scouting groups from Snohomish, Skagit, Whatcom, Island and San Juan counties.

According to a brief history of Troop 1 on the group’s website, “Everett has the distinction of having the oldest continuous Boy Scout Troop west of the Mississippi.”

Council Scout Executive Duane Rhodes, who heads the Mount Baker Council, said he was asked to confirm that claim in 2014 for the Troop 1 100th anniversary celebration. The Boy Scouts’ national records from a century ago are spotty, Rhodes said. “They do not know who the oldest troop anywhere is,” he added.

What is known is that Troop 1 was chartered in February 1914 by C.G. Sheldon of the Everett Elks, and that the Elks Lodge has supported it ever since.

Rhodes said 70 percent of Boy Scout troops nationally are chartered by churches, and most meet in churches or schools. In the Mount Baker Council, which serves 7,000 boys, he knows of only two troops meeting in their own headquarters. A troop in Lynden also has its own building, he said.

“Lots of troops are now using churches, school district buildings, very modern up-to-date places to meet,” Estie said. “We are definitely of the old, old, old school. We’re lucky to have electricity and hopefully water soon.”

Everett’s Mike Jones said his 12-year-old son Hunter, an Evergreen Middle School student, is proud to be part of a troop with a unique history. “The leadership is really helpful in making sure he knows the materials he is working on to get his ranks and merit badges,” he said.

Hunter also likes the troop’s service projects, among them park clean-ups and Christmas tree recycling, Jones said. The annual Christmas tree pick-up in north Everett is a fundraiser for Troop 1. Hayes said the recent project raised close to $1,800.

Troop 1 plans to go to Fire Mountain Scout Camp near Mount Vernon this summer, and Hayes said all fees will be paid by the group. “Last year we went to Ape Caves at Mount St. Helens. And we went gold panning last summer,” he said. “I want the kids to have new, educational experiences they wouldn’t get inside a classroom.”

Hayes and Rhodes said they welcomed the 2015 Boy Scouts of America policy change that now allows gay adults to serve as Scout leaders. And just last week, the organization opened its membership to transgender boys.

“Public opinion has been shifting — for the better,” Hayes said.

After years of declining Boy Scout membership, “it started going back up last year,” Rhodes said. “The growth is especially good in Cub scouting, and we think that bodes well for the future.”

As the organization evolves, Estie hopes people stop by a scouting landmark in Everett on Wednesday.

“The shack is badly in need of some repairs,” Estie said. “The troop is kind of hanging on by our shoestrings. Hopefully, the open house will generate some excitement.”

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; jmuhlstein@heraldnet.com.

Open house

Everett’s Boy Scout Troop 1 has scheduled an open house at its “Scout Shack” 5-7 p.m. Wednesday. The building is just east of the intersection of 34th Street and Nassau Street in Everett (look for balloons and signs). Donations are needed to repair the building, and Troop 1 seeks more members. For information, email Scoutmaster Benjamin Hayes: benjaminrhayes86@gmail.com

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