Trailcraft Troop 123 was originally chartered in November, 1926 as Winter Haven Troop 3. We were jointly sponsored by the 1st Methodist Church and the Winter Haven Fire Department, making us the 2nd oldest Winter Haven troop in existence. 

In the 1934 Florida Boy Scouting abolished city councils and moved us into the Flaming Arrow Council out of Lakeland. Since Lakeland already had a Troop 3, our number was changed to Troop 23. Again in 1939 our number was changed as Flaming Arrow Council was merged with the Tampa Bay Council and we became Troop 123. In 1940 the council changed its name to the Gulf Ridge Council which it stayed until 2016. Today the troop falls under the Greater Tampa Bay Council after the Gulf Ridge Council merger in 2017.

After a variety of locations, in 1957 Beymer United Methodist Church gave us property across from the church that were the present scout house sits. An old house was removed and Scoutmaster Mr. Tommy Costello and John Wood, Sr, the Committee Chairman, made plans to build a rustic scouthouse on the site. Using fathers and scouts from the troop, construction started in 1958. The scouts cut down the trees for the logs, had them run through a saw to square, then in an old ice house, scouts used adzes to give them the hewn look. The Scouthouse was finished in 1962 and has been in use ever since.

Canoeing was popular with the troop in the 1930’s, just as now. As you can see, the Troops’ two 34’ war canoes are only a few years old in these pictures. An orange truck hauled the 2 war canoes and up to 8 16’ canoes for an outing, all the boys piles in the back of the truck and off you went

SCOUTS AND THEIR PADDLES-The scouts of Trailcraft Troop 123 are shown with their hand made canoe paddles which, they broke in during a 12 canoe, 3 day trip along 2 rivers. The scouts, from left: Jimmy Costello, David Kaylor, Bill Hitchcock, Lee Davidson, Jimmy Hutchinson, Jim Schubert, Lee Donnell, Jim Glenn, Bob Conner, Steve Baker, Cody Estes, Byron Johnson, Wayne Johnson, Keith Purdy, Larry Simmons, Wynn Sigman, Mike Miles, George Kalogridis, Monroe Collier, & James Duncan.

In 1960, Scoutmaster Thomas Costello started a canoe paddle making program. This program is being carried on still today. In this October 1964 article it shows some of the scouts with their paddles, plus an interesting story about their canoe trip.

Actual Article from 1964….“An unusual trip, was undertaken by members of the Trailcraft scout troop 123 when they embarked, 12 canoes strong, on a three-day canoe trip on the Ichetucknee and Santa Fe Rivers. 
The canoe trip was the high mark of a training period of swimming, life saving, canoeing and paddle making. Two days of the crystal river featured skin diving, frog hunting and the capture of many huge fresh crawfish that are peculiar to that river. Watercress grows in abundance and salad, of all dishes, was part of the fare.
The trip ended well down the Santa Fe near the Swannee River. Flood water stage on the Santa Fe made the trip all the more interesting. An exciting finish was the capture of a life rattlesnake that was brought back to Winter Haven in a sack. 
Adults who make the trip were Jess Donnel, Dungan Kaylor, Alfred Estes, and Tom Costello, scoutmaster.
A canoe trip is not new to this troop but what made this distinctive was that every scout and leader was paddling with a paddle that he had made himself. 
Paddle making has been a troop project since 1960 when the first paddles were sent to the National Jamboree at Colorado Springs for display int he Skillorama. The laminated blades are glued up and paterned after the Olympic racing blades used by the American canoe teams. Already the troop hasd nearly 50 blades in various stages of completion.” 

The Troop went places back then, too. In 1931 they loaded an orange truck with gear and boys and drove to Mexico City-there were no paved roads in those days. It cost each scout about $7.00 for the 3-week trip.
In 1935, a similar trip was made to Yellowstone (can you imagine todays youth riding in the back of a flat bed truck from Winter Haven to Yellowstone National Park?). The Trailcraft boys also went to Jamborees, like this one outside Chicago.
Of course, the Trailcraft Scouts of 1936 liked to go to the beach, too.

Our troop along with some explorers and members of other local troops made a trip to Philmont in 1963-do you recognize anyone?
In the 1920s, scouts would halpe the Scoutmaster, Ross Allen, catch rattlesnakes and moccasins.

In the 1920’s someone wrote a Trailcraft Troop Song…

The Trailcraft Song

(to the tune of the Maine University Song)

Sing a song of Trailcraft Days.
Shout till you voices ring,
Raise you voices loud and clear,
Let every loyal Scout join in THEN
Sing of all the happy hours,
Sing of the carefree days,
Days of joyous Trailcraft camping,
To the skies–to the trees–
To the birds and flowers ever glorious;
To the hills– to the lakes–
To the eats– to the fun–
To the songs and the stunts at our council fires,
To the man of our staff
To the life and ideals they inspire.

A partial history of Troop 123 in a PowerPoint presentation.

Since 1924 Troop 123 has had 14 Scoutmasters!


Mr. Longstreet relaxing after a long day of hiking.