Irvine’s first Scout troop still going strong

by Tracy Childs

Age-wise, decades separate the two: William White is 78, Steven Mallonee just 15. Even so, they share a strong bond that bridges the years — Irvine Boy Scout Troop 36.

White was one of Troop 36’s original members, citing the Scout Oath for the first time as a 12-year-old in 1952. His father, the late Myford Irvine and at the time Irvine Company’s president, founded the troop — Irvine’s first.

As a troop member in 2018, Mallonee — who joined when he was 10 — is benefiting from its long history of serving and shaping Irvine’s youth. “I like the attitude and approach of our troop, which is to help teach the younger scouts new skills,” he said.

Indeed, 66 years after its founding, Troop 36 soldiers on thanks in large measure to the valuable life skills it imparts, Scoutmaster Vladimir Drndarski said.

“That’s one of the reasons parents like it so much, because of the leadership and character-building skills we emphasize,” he said.

Meanwhile, Drndarski said the scouts come back year after year because, “We offer activities and teach them things they wouldn’t otherwise have a chance to do and learn. Where else can a 10- or 11-year-old rappel down a 60-foot cliff in Joshua Tree?”

65th anniversary of National Boy Scout Jamboree on The Irvine Ranch

This July marks the 65th anniversary of the National Boy Scout Jamboree that took place on The Irvine Ranch in 1953. Irvine Company chartered Troop 36 in advance of the event, which took place where Newport Center now sits.

Sixty-five years ago, more than 50,000 scouts and their families descended on the former Irvine Ranch, arriving by planes, trains, cars and buses. One troop even hiked more than 80 miles to participate.

All told, 1,500 troops attended, representing all 48 states at the time, the former territories of Alaska and Hawaii, and 26 foreign countries.

Original troop member William White, who grew up in the Irvine family home where the Katie Wheeler Library (a replica of the former home) now stands, attended the Jamboree — the first one held on the West Coast — with the seven other original members of Troop 36.

Troop 36 served as host troop for the massive event and is playing a role in upcoming 65th anniversary activities (see accompanying story).

“One of the things I enjoyed most about the Jamboree was trading with other scouts,” White said. “Jamborees are really big about trading with boys from other states and countries.”

White recalled trading cockleburs — spiky pods from native California plants that bloom during the summer. Chuckling at the memory, he said, “We convinced the other kids they were porcupine eggs.”

Regardless of what they traded, every single scout went home with a bona fide souvenir — a commemorative Jamboree coin produced by Irvine Company.

And memories to last a lifetime.