Up a creek without a paddle?
Not Jim Croy.
Long known for his homemade campfire stew served piping hot to Boy Scouts during canoe trips, Mr. Croy now has his very own autographed wooden oar.
The keepsake was presented by Waterville's Troop 101 to Mr. Croy, who has been involved in scouting for half the time the national organization has been in existence. Boy Scouts of America is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.
In a scene repeated for generations, Mr. Croy went to one meeting, a single scout meeting, and was convinced to get involved. "They didn't convince me how to quit," he said with a chuckle.
So he kept going and going - to hundreds of meetings, on dozens of hikes, to umpteen campouts.
"For more than a half century, you have toiled in the trenches, creating a legacy of traditions and installing values to youth that is not easily replicated," Richard Fisher, scout executive for the Erie Shores Council, said.
Mr. Croy, 83, said his own scouting career was short-lived. "Our scoutmaster quit and we never found another one. I bought a paper route and that ended my scouting," he said.
It was when his son Jim, Jr., was old enough to go into scouting that Mr. Croy went to that first meeting in 1957. "Before the night was over, I was a Den dad, and then I was taking boys out on monthly outings of some sort."
Mr. Croy's younger son Paul has been active in scouting as well, and father and son have received Silver Beaver Awards, the council-level distinguished service award of the Boy Scouts of America.
His fame with beef, potatoes, carrots, and onions has simmered over the years with each canoe trip. "I liked to cook, inside or outside. I did not make any difference," Mr. Croy recalled.
During the recent program honoring Mr. Croy, guests dined on beef stew and cake at Waterville United Methodist Church, where Monday nights are scout nights.
About 23 boys and 16 adults are active in Troop 101, which meets weekly at the church. The troop is marking its 85th anniversary this year.
It's a scout-led group, said Doug Smith of Waterville, troop scoutmaster, and it's an adventurous group.
Scouts have backpacked and camped in several states, including New Mexico, Wyoming, and New Hampshire. Mr. Smith's son Mark spent a month in Alaska when he was a high school freshman.
Such trips keep boys interested and active scouting, Mr. Smith said.
The troop has 108 Eagle Scouts, including George Welker, 18, who lives near Perrysburg. He holds the honor of being the 101st Eagle Scout in Troop 101.
Scouting, he said, is a good way to stay active and "to help other young men learn and to watch them grow," such as when they go on campouts and tackle projects, such as learning to cook.
Troop 101 leaders pass along scratch-cooking tips to the young scouts who learn to make turkey dinners, homemade pies, and Mr. Croy's famous stew. Mr. Croy was one of Mr. Smith's scout leaders and has been a life-long mentor and friend. "He taught me first aid. He taught me a lot of cooking," Mr. Smith said.
"My boy cooked when he was in scouts and afterwards, too. He is now 28 and he is still cooking," said Denny Ducat of Waterville, advancement chairman, referring to his son Nathaniel Ducat of Waterville, an Eagle Scout.
Many troop leaders were scouts when they were young boys, but not Tim Pedro of Waterville, assistant scoutmaster.
Mr. Pedro said he is living scouts through his sons who have been active in the troop. His son Steven is the troop's most recent Eagle Scout.
Mr. Pedro pointed out the importance of flexibility in the scouting organization. Boys who play sports or who are in the band or who have part-time jobs can still be part of scouting, he said.
Added Mr. Ducat: "We are open all year long. Our door is always open."
Scouts are encouraged to sample a variety of experiences and activities, said Keith Colyer of Whitehouse, whose son Logan, now in college, is an Eagle Scout.
You never know what is going to trigger an interest in a career, said Mr. Colyer, Troop 101 treasurer.
Stuart Bertsch of Bowling Green, Troop 101 committee chairman, whose son Spencer is working to become an Eagle Scout, noted the importance of leadership skills learned through scouting, saying boys who are leaders often are leaders as adults.
Troop 101's senior patrol leader is 14-year-old Kyle Verstraete of Monclova Township, who was a primary assistant during the recognition program to honor Mr. Croy. From Kyle's first days of scouting, he's been working toward becoming an Eagle Scout, he said.
Scouting, Mr. Smith said, "is a great program for everybody involved, whether they are young scouts or older scouts."
Mr. Croy heartily agrees.
When you work with a group of boys, you feel you are doing something valuable, he said. "They mature, they become good citizens," he said, "and that is really important."
He's still a registered scout. "I probably will be registered until I die."
Although he had no intention of volunteering when he went to that first meeting, he knows one thing for certain after spending 50 years as a Boy Scout leader.
"I have no regrets."
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