The Los Altos United Methodist Church has sponsored Troop 33 as a church ministry since November 1951, shortly after the church itself was founded. The BSA charter was officially granted in December 1951, formally establishing Troop 33 in the Stanford Area Council. The original pastor of the church, Charles Cox, was a firm believer in Scouting and, under his leadership, the Troop developed alongside the church community. The founding Scoutmaster, R.W. Dullock, a carpenter by trade, fostered a close relationship between the Troop and the church community. Dullock and the boys of 33 worked alongside the congregation to build the first three original buildings for the church, including the social hall which would serve as the Troop’s home for decades. In addition to Troop 33, the church sponsored two Cub Scout Packs, an Air Scout Squadron, and an Explorer Post. Only the Troop and one Pack remain, both continuing to wear the number 33.
The Troop grew rapidly during the baby boom of the 1950s and 1960s. As the boom tapered off, the turbulent times of the sixties manifested themselves and scouting fell upon lean times, both nationally and locally. Membership in the Troop dwindled to four scouts and the Troop was at risk of losing its charter. But, in 1974, Dave Earle, a district volunteer, delayed the last rites and became Scoutmaster of the Troop. With this small nucleus of scouts and a handful of dedicated new recruits, Troop 33 was re-chartered and reinvigorated. As a symbol of Troop unity, the Scouts created the Troop’s first custom neckerchief and proudly outfitted it with a new Troop 33 logo. The Troop size remained small, rarely exceeding 20 boys. Then, in 1977, Troop 35 merged with 33 and produced a stronger unit of 30-40 scouts. In celebration of the 33rd anniversary of the Troop’s founding, Scoutmaster King Lear organized a bike tour of England. To commemorate the occasion, the Troop designed a new bright yellow neckerchief. The unique color became a distinguishing symbol of Troop 33 and the neckerchief remained bright yellow until the 2000s. The subsequent years have been very successful, with strong programs, numerous outings, a sound financial base and a sizable number of scouts.
An active outdoor program has been a hallmark of Troop 33. The monthly program keeps scouts active in the outdoors throughout the year. Perennial favorites include snow caving, skiing, mountain biking, and Mountain Man Rendezvous. The summer programs are where scouts are able to utilize their culmination of skills. Since the earliest years, Troop 33 Scouts have regularly cut their teeth at Camp Oljato, situated on the shores of Huntington Lake in the High Sierras. Troop 33 began sending Scouts to Oljato in its earliest years and, by the time the Troop was ten years old, it was regularly supplying Scouts as camp staffers. The Troop has continuously supported Camp Oljato through service projects and the funding of recently-built Scoutcraft and Nature lodges. In the past several years, other summer camps have been added to the program as alternatives, including Camp Whitsett (South Sierras), Camp Emerald Bay (Catalina Island) and Camp Wente (Willits, CA).
In addition to the regular summer camps, high adventure expeditions have been organized almost every other year. Highlights of prior trips include: a UK bicycling trip in 1984, five Northern Tier canoe trips into Canada in 1991, 1993, 1998, 2004 and 2007, and a hiking trip to the Big Island in Hawaii in 2000. In 2005 and 2010 Troop 33 Scouts attended the National Jamboree. In 2007, ten Troop 33 Scouts celebrated Scouting’s 100th birthday at the 21st World Scout Jamboree in the UK, the birthplace of the Scouting movement. In 2011, fifteen scouts attended the 22nd World Scout Jamboree in Sweden. In 2013 more Scouts plan on attending the National Scout Jamboree at the new Summit Bechtel Reserve location. In 2009, Scouts rode on a 175 mile cycling trip from Salt Point State Park (Sonoma County) to Los Altos, CA. In 2011, Scouts rode 175 miles down the California coastline. Backpacking is another focus. In 2008, Troop 33 scouts enjoyed a high adventure backpacking 50-miler in the Colorado Rocky Mountains with the summit of a 14,064’ peak. That same summer Scouts also went on a 50-miler backpacking trip in the Sierras with horses. In 2010, Scouts went on a 65-mile, 12-day backpacking trek at Philmont Scout Ranch and in the summer of 2012 two more crews will head to Philmont.
Parallel to engagement in outdoor activities, the Troop has always encouraged advancement as a key to maintaining interest in scouting. A strong first year program continues to provide an environment for skill development, which creates a foundation for further advancement. Since 1951, 214 Scouts have attained Eagle Rank. Indeed, the percentage of our Scouts who have attained Eagle Rank compares well to the Pacific Skyline Council average and is significantly higher than the national average. There are currently over 130 active Scouts in the Troop, making it one of the largest in the Pacific Skyline Council. Since 1951, the Troop has served over nine hundred boys in the community.