We can’t say for sure that Eagle Scout George Oldroyd was the youngest Scoutmaster in BSA history.
What we can say for certain is that he was at least tied for that honor.
BSA rules say a man or woman must be 21 to serve as Scoutmaster. Oldroyd became Scoutmaster of Troop 63 on his 21st birthday, in May 1991.
That is only the beginning of Oldroyd’s remarkable story.
Twenty-five years later, on Oldroyd’s 46th birthday, he logged into Facebook and told his friends about his plan to write a book about the boys of Troop 63. He wanted to reveal the ways Scouting mattered in their lives.
Next he headed to the hospital in Alabaster, Ala., for his weekly infusion of the intravenous immunoglobulin that keeps his immune system working properly.
Oldroyd never made it to the hospital — not in the way he had intended, at least.
A hero, again
Oldroyd was driving to the hospital when he came across a car that had caught fire.
It turns out the driver was transporting a dozen bottles of propane and a can of kerosene to his cabin when his engine caught fire. The flames, if they reached the propane, could have caused a giant explosion.
Oldroyd ran to the scene with an armload of fire extinguishers — one from his truck and others offered by nearby motorists.
As Oldroyd was running over, he broke his feet in seven places. It wasn’t until much later — once first responders started arriving — that Oldroyd realized he was standing in a pool of his own blood.
Injured and burned, the lifelong Scouter collapsed and was taken to the hospital by ambulance. He went to the emergency room, where he lost his left leg to infection.
For his heroism, Oldroyd was awarded the Honor Medal with Crossed Palms in 2017. It is Scouting’s highest award for heroism.
That wasn’t the first time the BSA honored Oldroyd for risking his life to save others.
In 2012, he was awarded an Honor Medal for battling a fire behind an office building.
Thirty years earlier, as a 12-year-old Star Scout, Oldroyd rescued his mother from a burning auto shop.
Fires are in his blood. He’s the son of a career fire officer and was a Fire Service Explorer. So he knows a thing or two about being a hero without exposing himself to unacceptable harm.
Oldroyd is broadly built and stands 6-foot-8.
His figurative presence in Scouting has been large, too. In spite of his health problems, Oldroyd earned nine Eagle Scout Palms, the Explorer Achievement Award and his Wood Badge beads.
He’s a Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow, where he earned the nickname “The Elder Brother.”
He has been a Cubmaster and Scoutmaster for 1,100 boys, including many from underserved areas. He was a Sea Scout skipper at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.
Two years after the incident that cost him his leg, The Elder Brother remains good-natured about his loss, despite needing to use a power chair while he learns how to walk again.
His latest goal is to attend the 2019 World Scout Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia.
‘A Scout is helpful’
Roger Goodledy was the one who introduced me to Oldroyd’s story. He has talked at length with Oldroyd, including asking why someone with health challenges would risk his neck like he has.
Oldroyd told Goodledy, “Providence puts a task in your path, and it’s just my job to take it on, not to question why. These jobs needed doing. A Scout is helpful, and I was prepared to give service this way.”
A Scout is brave, too.
“Oldroyd certainly exemplifies this point of character, and he hasn’t been distracted from the purpose he announced on that fateful birthday,” Goodledy says. “He remains hard at work on his book, the aptly titled Being Prepared.”
Thanks to Roger Goodledy for the idea and background info.