One of Utah’s oldest Boy Scout troops continues to thrive in Taylorsville, despite losing its nearly 100-year sponsorship
Mar 31, 2020 10:49AM
By Carl Fauver
Taylorsville Boy Scout Troop 117 holds most of its meetings in the historic dairy store, next to the Taylorsville/Bennion Heritage Center on 4800 South. (Scoutmaster Steve Plothow)
By Carl Fauver | [email protected]
The Boy Scouts of America has enjoyed a thriving presence in Taylorsville for well over a century. Way back in 1917 — the same year the United States entered World War I — BSA Troop 91 was formed in the area.
But like all of the other troops sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Troop 91 was disbanded at the end of last year.
However, the scoutmaster from that troop, Steve Plothow — and all of his scouts — are now members of newly formed Troop 117, thanks to sponsorship by the Unified Fire Authority employees’ union.
“The Taylorsville Stake 1st Ward began sponsoring the troop in 1917, and it was originally simply called Troop 1,” Plothow said. “But eventually there were several Troop 1 designations in Utah, so they began putting numbers in front of the 1. That’s how our troop became 91. Originally, I hoped we could carry that number over to the new troop. But we’ve changed to Troop 117 for a very good reason.”
That reason is, one of the two Unified Fire stations located in Taylorsville — the 3-year old state-of-the-art firehouse at 4965 South Redwood Road — is Station 117.
“The union has sponsored four Boy Scout troops so far in Herriman, Magna, Kearns and Taylorsville, and they have each been given troop numbers corresponding to their nearby fire stations,” Unified Fire Capt. Jeremy Robertson said. “Numbers are very important to us. We want the kids — when they see one of our fire trucks with the number on it — to identify with it.”
For six years, Robertson was president of Salt Lake County Fire Fighters IAFF Local 1696. IAFF stands for International Association of Fire Fighters.
“It’s important people understand Unified Fire cannot sponsor Boy Scout troops,” Robertson said. “The employee union is sponsoring it. The nominal charter fee we pay for each troop comes out of union dues and is not tax money.”
The firefighter’s union has agreed to pay each troop’s charter fee for the first year. But after that, members expect the troops to fundraise to cover the annual expense.
“You won’t see our scouts selling popcorn or movie tickets to fundraise,” Robertson said. “We will help our scouts with fundraisers that benefit the community, such as selling fire extinguishers or smoke detectors.”
The church’s decision to end its relationship with the Boy Scouts of America has significantly reduced the number of troops in Utah. Some estimates have the number of troops in the state falling from well over 7,000 to fewer than 150. But Plothow says his ranks have swelled since the change.
“I was down to only nine boys in Troop 91 when it was disbanded on Dec. 31,” he said. “I used our troop as a core for the new troop. But since then, we have picked up boys from other disbanded Taylorsville troops and kids from West Jordan and West Valley City. We even have scouts coming down from Farmington and Park City.”
At last count, BSA Troop 117 had 34 members, all meeting weekly at the old dairy store, on 4800 South, directly west of the Taylorsville/Bennion Heritage Center.
“In exchange for not charging us rent for our meeting space, our boys are completing monthly service projects at the heritage center,” Plothow said. “We are also continuing the tradition of encouraging our Eagle Scout candidates to perform their service projects at the historic site.”
In addition to all the new scouts in the troop, Assistant Scoutmaster Glen Nelson is also new. He had been working with younger boys, in the Cub Scouts, before the restructuring.
“When the church announced it would no longer sponsor scouting, they also made several announcements encouraging parents to register their boys in other troops,” Nelson said. “There was never an effort (by the church) to discourage kids from continuing in the Boy Scouts. But everyone understands, parents will now have to pay more out of pocket, or the boys will need more fundraisers to cover costs the church used to pay.”
Unified Fire Captain Robertson admits there is one more reason why his employee’s union was willing to step forward to sponsor troops.
“We want the scouts to have a positive feeling about firefighting because we may be able to recruit some of them to work for UFA in the future,” he said. “I don’t know how many of our firefighters have told me over the years, ‘My first step toward becoming a firefighter was taken when my Boy Scout troop toured our local fire station.’ We want to continue building that positive feeling between the scouts and our department.”