TULSA, Okla. — Tulsa's Troop 26 is celebrating Bill Shaffer's 50 years with the Boy Scouts as a scoutmaster.
He was asked to take the volunteer leadership role at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in 1969.
“I was afraid that I would go to hell if I said no, and I thought I can do anything for a couple years,” said 74-year-old Shaffer.
Two years turned into five decades.
He has guided, coached and directed thousands of scouts at Troop 26. Under his leadership, more than 750 young adults have earned an “Eagle Scout Award,” the Boy Scout's highest honor.
Many of them have become successful professionals who are now giving back to the community, like Jeff Stava, the Executive Director of Tulsa's Gathering Place.
“The most important part of this troop is really the heart of the troop, and that's Bill Shaffer our scoutmaster,” said Stava.
Ironically, Shaffer said he quit the Boy Scouts before he made it to Eagle Scout.
It's a path he never planned for, but one that he'll cherish forever.
“I get graduation announcements, and I get notifications when they've had their first child,” shared Shaffer.
His journey is full of memories, stories, photographs and personal connections. He said he doesn't treat his troop as a group but as individuals.
“It's not about 'Hey you in the blue hat.' It's gotta be a personal connection between me and every kid that comes here,” said Shaffer.
He said one of his favorite memories was when Gerald Ford showed up at the church to present 13 Eagle Scout awards. Another moment he remembers is when he and the scouts met with President Ronald Reagan in California.
“We've been to a lot of jamborees. We've been to Philmont. We've been to summer camps out of the state of Oklahoma,” said Shaffer.
At 74, there's no stopping him.
“How would I get out of it now?” laughed Shaffer, “I'm in it for the long haul.”
Troop 26 is planning a big 50-year celebration at Tulsa's Jazz Hall of Fame on Saturday, May 4.
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