SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — Nestled on the border of San Francisco’s Chinatown, you’ll find a piece of the city’s history that few know about.
Over the past 108 years, Boy Scout Troop 3 has stood the test of time, becoming what is believed to be the oldest troop west of the Mississippi River and the second oldest in the nation as a whole. .
But now it is in danger of disappearing.
Steven Chang has been with the troop for almost 60 years – first as a scout, and now as one of its scout leaders.
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“You see them when they’re 11, and you see them when they graduate at 18. And just to see the remarkable change,” Chang said.
Today’s troupe is open to all, but at the time it was founded in 1914, all members were of Chinese descent out of necessity.
“Because of the Chinese Exclusion Law. History shows us that we weren’t welcome here,” Chang said.
Over the years, the troupe has gradually shrunk and currently numbers around 13 members.
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Chang says he believes costs, as well as the fact that the neighborhood is home to many hard-working immigrant families, play a role.
“I see we’re very different from a lot of other troupes. They have a lot more resources, a lot more parents to involve in the program,” Chang said.
But despite their reduction in size, the sense of camaraderie and the lessons Scouts learn remain timeless.
Lucien Lin has been a member of the troupe for several years.
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He says he made some of his closest friends in Troop 3 and enjoys passing on his knowledge to the next generation.
“I do my best to try to be a leader for them, but also to be a friend for them,” Lin said.
Chang says that in the wake of the pandemic, the troupe is stepping up its recruiting efforts.
It hopes to remain a part of San Francisco culture for another 108 years.
“The things we’re offering here are hands-on learning experiences, building their confidence, teaching, having fun, taking responsibility. I don’t think any of that gets old,” Chang said.
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