On a tree-lined farm in Tennessee, you’ll find one of the coolest places in the country to be a Boy Scout.
Troop 137 meets in an old barn in Franklin, Tenn., a suburb of Nashville. Its horse stalls have been converted into patrol meeting rooms. The hay loft now has a climbing wall leading up to it. And, awesomely, there’s an indoor basketball court.
Troop 137 was the first troop Frank Limpus and his son, Ryan, visited when Ryan decided to become a Boy Scout.
It was the first, and it became the only.
“All I can say is after our one visit that night to the barn, Ryan didn’t want to visit any other troop,” Frank says. “Troop 137 and its environs was where he wanted to spend his time in Scouting. No question, it was the best place — and some of the best years of his life.”
Never a Cub Scout
Unlike many Boy Scouts, Ryan wasn’t a Cub Scout.
“His early years were spent with baseball, soccer and taekwondo,” Frank says. “But when the outdoor urge hit, he decided to try Scouting.”
Frank and Ryan started researching the handful of troops nearby. They found several finalists, with Troop 137 the top candidate. One big plus: the troop had been active since 1975 and was large, averaging 120 active Scouts per year.
They also liked that the troop had just one Scoutmaster in its history.
Troop 137’s founder
John Green, now 90 years young, started Troop 137 in 1975 with 15 boys.
At first the troop met at a church, but Green thought the guys needed more space to do Scouting things. So the Scouts and leaders started meeting in the old barn.
Thanks to the barn, Green and his fellow leaders have offered some interesting outdoor activities Scouts can’t get anywhere else. The Scouts tend beehives on the property and grow veggies in the garden. There’s a fire pit and a large activities field. Troop 137 has even raised a calf.
“We look for ways to give the boys something to work with, no matter what they’re interested in,” Green told RealtorMag in 2002.
Frank says the Scoutmaster has been a fine role model for boys like his son, who became an Eagle Scout in 2011.
“With Mr. Green as an example, you can imagine how consistent the troop’s leadership ranks have been and how strong its ongoing support from parents,” Frank says.
One barn, endless possibilities
Troop 137’s home is more than a barn. Within 100 yards of the building you’ll find a second barn and several fields. It’s basically a Scouting playground.
Combined, these areas offer an array of Scouting experiences and merit badge possibilities. I’m talking things like:
- First aid
- Ham radio
- Flag ceremonies
- Webelos crossover
That’s not to mention the Scout Law pathway and merit badge library — both favorites of Scouts like Ryan.
The ample space in front of the barn makes for a perfect setting for ceremonies like courts of honor. Parents and family members bring camp chairs and watch the proceedings as the Tennessee sun sets.
What we’ve learned
Frank says you don’t need a barn to offer the kind of Scouting fun found in Troop 137. It’s possible anywhere.
“Maybe as Scout leaders there are some ideas in what Mr. Green and leaders have done for Troop 137 that might help you make Scouting in your area not only appealing but a magnet for all types of youth,” he says. “Not everyone can dedicate several barns and a field or two to Scouting, but maybe there are ways to develop some onsite merit badges or experiences to attract more kids to consider Scouting and your troop.”