Zephyrhills 100th Anniversary: Memories of Scouting in Zephyrhills

By , 23 February, 2010, No Comment

Zephyrhills is unique in so many ways. As we approach the centennial, it is a time to reflect on all the distinctive components of our community. From the town’s earliest inception, founders had a concern for youth.  As early at 1919, just a few years after the town of Zephyrhills was launched in 1910, Mary Shepard donated 2 1/2 acres to the city for a children’s playground. Mary specified that no games of chance or alcoholic drinks be allowed, nor play on Sunday. The park stands yet today, some 90 years after this selfless donation. You may recognize it as you travel through Zephyrhills on Gall Boulevard (301) heading south.  A gaze to the west and you see a lush inviting interlude of trees and picnic areas. Shepard Park has been home to the scouting program in the area for most of its years of existence. Perhaps Ms. Shepard was aware of the burgeoning scouting programs when she donated the land. It is interesting that Boy Scouts of America was incorporated in 1910, the same year as the inauguration of our town. Its mission is to provide a program for young people that builds character, trains them in the responsibilities of participating citizenship, and develops personal fitness. Girl Scouts, as all girl scouts know, began in 1912 in Georgia when Juliette “Daisy” Gordon Low assembled 18 girls for a local Girl Scout meeting. She believed that all girls should be given the opportunity to develop physically, mentally, and spiritually and wanted to offer community service opportunities.

Often somewhat of a right of passage, scouting has offered mentorship and enrichment to our community but more importantly guidance to young people. Not surprisingly, we found many accounts in news history about scouting over time. Our alumni also shared some great stories.

Celia Linkey Anderson of Zephyrhills directed the move of the city library’s books in 1962 from the little wooden building which had been the town’s library since its founding to the new library adjacent to City Hall. “We used Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts plus other children and moved all the books in two afternoons. It was a 4-block round trip and those children were marvelous,” she recalled. We wonder how many other service projects have been completed by scout groups?

Many exemplary citizens have been forged from scouting roots as well.  1978 seemed to produce a bumper crop! The News reported that the ZHS class of 1978 had six Eagle Scouts (relating that the average was one Eagle for every 300 scouts, making ZHS way above the national average). Eagle Scouts were Homer E. Brooks, III, Bruce W. Clark, Jeffrey A. DeWitt, Willie T. Quick, Jr., Michael Schaffner, and James K. Waddey.

There were Oaths/Promises, Mottos and Laws. Do you remember the scouting oath or promise?

The Cub Scout Promise

I, (name), promise to do my best

To do my duty to God and my country,

To help other people, and

To obey the Law of the Pack.

Boy Scout Oath

On my honor, I will do my best

To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law;

To help other people at all times;

To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.

Girl Scouts

Girl Scout Troops 267 and 429

The Brownie & Girl Scout Promise

On my honor, I will try:

To serve God and my country,

To help people at all times,

And to live by the Girl Scout Law.

Alumni memories:

The scout huts consisted of a single WWII barracks from the airport.  The building was cut in half and moved to the scout park – half for the girl scouts and half for the boy scouts.  The boy scouts already had a building so the parents/scouts built a new section of building to join them.  This was sometime around 1955-57.  Mr. Lee Reed took over from Mr. Floyd Kingston. We were called the Eagle Troop since so many of us made the highest rank of Eagle. The ones I remember becoming Eagles are Sam Surratt, Larry Turner, Marvin Reed, Reggie Brown, Mark Higginson and possible Russel Kirk and Harry Thain beside myself. There were another five or six that I don’t remember. Mr. Reed took a small group to the National Boy Scout Camp in Philmore, somewhere out west…Dean Martinson ‘65

I remember Brownie meetings in the girl’s hut. My brother would attend Boy Scouts at the same time in the adjoining building…Suzie (Hill) Pippin ‘73

I was in the Suncoast Brownie Scout Trop #410, Girl Scout Troop #148 and Cadet Scout, which was the most fun in my childhood days.  I remember camping at the old scout hut on a fall night. We constructed a make-shift tent out of chairs & blankets and watched TV movies all night long….usually Shock Theatre! The hut had an upright piano that we all played chopsticks on and a pedal sewing machine that was fun to pedal at fast pace! We had some great Den Mothers – Mrs. Bobbie Lou (Sibley) Hormuth, Mrs. Delores Moore, Mrs. Vera Morton, Mrs. Musgrove, Mrs. June Travis and of course, my mom, Mrs. Vera (Cook) Morrill to name a few.  Doing the community deeds to earn badges was so rewarding.  I still have my sash with pins & badges after almost 45 years. I will always remember the scout motto Be Prepared and live it daily…Clereen (Morrill) Brunty ‘73

I remember going to the scout hut with my mother. I was proud that she was the Brownie leader…Jackie (Hood) Grant ‘77

The building was old and musty but a great place to meet…Sharon (Geiger) Reeves ‘80

I was there faithfully every week because my mother as well as Mrs. Moore and Mrs. Dobson helped get the girls scout group going!…Maria Spoto ‘80

Oh boy…I remember having a lot of fish fry’s (Nile perch) and hushpuppies to raise money for scouting.  I recall collecting aluminum cans by the loads to recycle.  We had a huge bin made with lumber and chicken wire to hold those cans which we deposited each week.  With all the liquid we removed from the cans, we went home smelling like we mopped the floor of a brewery with our uniforms…Anonymous

I so remember weekly meetings at the Girl Scout hut…Dawn Baker ‘85

I went to those huts each and every week for my scout meeting…Sarah Baggett ‘92

Another story is that of the Hilferding family. Arriving in Zephyrhills in the early 1980s, Robert Hilferding became Scoutmaster of Troop 72 where his eldest son Eric Hilferding became an Eagle Scout in 1987. At the same time, Terry Hilferding was a Girl Scout leader for her daughter Carin Hilferding’s Troop in the West Wind Neighborhood.

When Eric went off to college, his younger brother Gregg Hilferding became a Boy Scout with Troop 427 which later merged with Troop 425. Gregg’s mother, Terry Hilferding, was the Scoutmaster of that Troop when he became an Eagle Scout in 1997. Mrs. Hilferding was one of the area’s first female Scoutmasters was awarded the Scouter of the Year Award in 1995. During that time, Carin (Hilferding) Fletcher served as a Den Leader for Cub Scout Park 425.

Both Gregg and Eric traveled extensively with Scouts, visiting such places as Washington, D.C., the Netherlands, Australia, and Iceland. The spirit of Service to Scouting continues as Gregg Hilferding is now the Scoutmaster of Troop 72, which still meets at Shepard Park on Monday nights as it did in the 1980s when his father was the Scoutmaster.

Countdown to Centennial

Countdown to Centennial
By Madonna Jervis Wise and Clereen Morrill Brunty of the 100th Anniversary Committee, ZHS. Article originally appeared in the Zephyrhills News on October 8, 2009.

All rights reserved. Photos © Madonna Jervis Wise

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