Mt Tam Hike

After weeks of being shut in because of COVID19 and poor air quality from fires, a small contingent of T104 scouts and scouters met at 8:30am on a very pleasant September Saturday for a 10-mile hike to the East Peak of Mt. Tamalpais in Marin County.

In lieu of our recent normal kayaking trip in the Fall, our scouts decided it would be good to do a number of hikes in our area. We are fortunate to have many good, medium-length hikes within easy driving distance. And the recent merger of three Bay Area councils — the San Francisco Bay Area Council, the Alameda Council, and our home council the Mt Diable Silverado Council — in the Golden Gate Area Council has created new excitement for doing hikes that were previously out-of-council, such as the Mt. Tam hike.

So we met at Pantoll Ranger Station, said “hi!” to another troop with the same idea, got a brief orientation from one our scouts on where we’d be heading, and off we went! Our first leg led us up the Old Mine Trail to the Mountain Play amphitheatre. The skies were fairly clear and it the temperature was just right. We lingered briefly at the amphitheatre, several folks saying they hadn’t yet seen a play there before and others reminiscing about the summer crowds that swarm over the area in normal years. We walked across the top of the theater to continue on Rock Spring Trail, which leads to the West Point Inn. A short break there let the snails catch up with the rabbits, gave us a few minutes looking at the view of San Francisco, and provided a break for some water as the sun was heating things up.

Our trip to the peak took us up the northern stretch of the Old Railroad Grade, past the Visitor’s Center and up to the Fire Lookout at 2,471 ft, where we lingered a while to have water and lunch. Although there were others hiking to the peak, the trail was pretty empty, spoiling us all, and giving us room to spread out. A couple of planes flew by at or below our altitude, native bees buzzed avidly in the chaparral, and we chatted idly while looking over San Rafael and the Richmond Bridge.

The way home was mostly a return on the same trails except that we cut down Fern Trail to the southern part of Old Railroad Grade, giving us a little bit longer hike so that those scouts who wanted it could get a 10-miler for their Hiking merit badge. The detour took us past the natural spring waterfall on that trail and a few people dipped into the pleasantly cold water. The walk was just a tiny bit shy of 10 miles, so the outing ended with a few scouts walking down to the end of the Pantoll parking lot before returning to the group to say thanks and goodbyes.

Thanks to everyone who participated and helped organize the outing. We’re looking forward to the next one coming soon!

Congratulations Keith

Troop 104 has awarded the Troop’s first annual Irwin Horowitz Scout Spirit Award to Keith Emery. The award is named in honor of former Troop 104 Scoutmaster Irwin Horowitz. 
The award is to recognize a scout aging-out “in recognition of service to the community and Troop 104, and for exemplifying the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law”.

Keith joined has been a scout since he was 5 years old, and is turning 18 this summer.  In the past few years in Troop 104 Keith has been quartermaster and Troop Guide, and has been kind and helpful in countless ways to individual scouts, the Troop and the community.   Keith is a member of Venture Crew 104, so will still be in uniform some days, when he’s not downhill mountain biking or some other crazy thing.  We do know he’ll carry on the scout spirit through his life outside of scouting.  Congratulations Keith!  Rota approves.

Welcoming Girls to Scouts BSA

In Spring 2018, the T104 committee voted to support a “linked” girls troop. It wasn’t until February of 2019 that the newly named “Scouts BSA” opened its doors to girls, 11 and over, who wanted to pursue the traditional ranks and merit badges of Boy Scouts. But our troop has a long history of commitment to equality and opportunity, and so committing to support a girl troop was a natural step toward a stronger youth program.

For nearly 80 years, El Cerrito’s troop has been part of “Boy Scouts of America.” But now that is merely history. And soon the “boy scouts” part will be history, too.

But what is a “linked” troop? In brief, it means that when a girls troop forms in El Cerrito, our existing organization stands ready to support it, doing whatever business is necessary to support its activities with the current group of committee volunteers that support our boys. The new girl troop doesn’t need to create its own committee, and can piggy back on what the existing, boy troop has already created. Of course, the girl troop may decide it wants to do its own activities, or even eventually have its own committee. But the “linked” troop idea provides a good way for girl troops to get started. Once they have a scoutmaster and assistant scoutmaster (one of whom must be a woman), they need only the minimum number of youth required to start a troop—in this case, five girls—and they’re off and running.

In September, Troop 104 will be hosting an Open House where people can learn more, both about forming a girl troop or joining the boy troop, as well as about our existing Venture Crew, which already is open to girls and boys between ages 14 and 21.

Remembering Back to 75th Anniversary

Here is an excerpt of a message sent to the Troop 104 community in 2013 when the troop celebrated its 75th anniversary.

Troop 104 75th Anniversary BBQ Gala and Flag Day Celebration
El Cerrito’s Troop 104 of the Boy Scouts of America is celebrating its 75th anniversary on Flag Day June 14 at the Camp Herms Lodge,  the boy scout camp just above Arlington Park.  The public is invited, especially any past scouts, scouters and anyone wanting to learn more about the Troop.  There will be a delicious BBQ, historical displays, scout activities and demonstrations, followed by live dance music in the lodge, by local band Hot Rod Jukebox.   Gala tickets are $15 per person, available online at or at the door.  Tickets purchased before June 9 are available for a prize drawing of a Stars and Stripes and flag pole.   Uniformed scouts and scouters and children under 12 are free.  The anniversary BBQ  will be an affordable and memorable fun night out for any family.  
Troop 104 was founded by the Harding School Dad’s Club, in Dec 1939. It was originally called Troop 4, but its name was changed to 104 in an early reorganization of area Boy Scout Troops.   Troop 104 holds its weekly meeting at the El Cerrito Veterans Hall and at the El Cerrito High School, where it has held its meetings through most of its history.  Boys in the Troop go to public and private middle and high schools in El Cerrito and nearby cities, but most reside in El Cerrito.  Boys come to the Troop typically when they are in sixth grade, from El Cerrito Cub Scout Pack 104 or other area Cub Scout packs; and came from Cub Scout Pack 21 based at Fairmont Elementary school for much of its history (Pack 12 is no longer chartered).  Hundreds of boys have been members of the Troop.  Among them were the Fogerty brothers, young scouts went on to form the band Credence Clearwater Revival.  Their parents called them the “Boy Scouts of Rock ‘n’ Roll”  thinking they wouldn’t be successful,  but in the sprit of the current Troop tagline, Never Say Never!, these boys stuck to their guns played what they wanted to play, and achieved their dreams.  Any boy twelve years old or older is welcome to Boy Scouts, and don’t need to have come from Cub Scouts.  The current and longtime Scoutmaster is George Gaebler ( Troop 104 also has seven adult Assistant  Scoutmasters).  A new Scoutmaster,  Jason Kondracki, will be leading the Troop in the fall of 2014.  More information about scouting and scouting in El Cerrito is available at  
Seventy-five years ago El Cerrito had about ¼ the population, there were still some open fields and streams children would play in, and kids could go to the El Cerrito Theater all day matinee, for a dime.  A lot has changed since then, but scouting has changed little.  Boys still strive to serve the community, respect the environment, campout, earn badges, and above all else, have fun.  Other boy scout troops have been active in El Cerrito before and since, there are sister units in Albany, Kensington, Richmond and Berkeley, but Troop 104 is the only Troop in El Cerrito now, and has been active throughout its 75 year history.   The Troop has a long and adventurous history in El Cerrito, well worth celebrating! 
Troop 104 Boy Scouts have done a lot to help the community of El Cerrito and beyond throughout the years.   For seventy-five years Boy Scouts from the Troop have conducted local and state service projects,  from clearing brush and planting trees in state parks, organizing recycling campaigns and cleaning up graffiti and helping setup and shepherd the Sundar Shadi hillside holiday display each year.   Wherever there is a need, the scouts have been there to help.   Aside from service projects, Boy Scouts conduct projects that often address overlooked or neglected needs of the community, or  environmental  necessities.  Many of these projects are overseen by senior boys for their Eagle Awards, the highest level of achievement in Boy Scouts.   Residents will see examples of Troop 104 projects throughout El Cerrito. 
Walking the Hillside Natural Area Nature Trail, hikers may see stairs and benches constructed long ago by area Boy Scouts, and may make use of a detailed field guide listing plant and animal species on the trails, written by a Boy Scout.  Those aluminum fish shaped placards on many the city’s storm sewers that remind us ‘No Dumping, Drain to the Bay’ were put their by Boy Scouts.   A Troop 104 scout reconstructed two of the holiday display camels from the Shadi display, city treasures .  Retaining walls and benches at Tassajara Park, fences,  the old Teepee and trail signs at Canyon Trail Park, handrails and the court facility at Huber Park and planter boxes at Madera Elementary School and Middle College Eco Club, have all been built by T104 scouts.  The bleachers at El Cerrito Vista were built by scouts many years ago, and in May this year, the benches were rebuilt again, organized by Troop 104 Eagle candidate Tim Jeung.   Scouts spend time learning about sports, crafts, science, trades, business, and future careers by earning merit badges, but it is through service and building projects that help put theory to practice in the community for these teenagers.
Of course, Troop 104 scouts go camping and have gone on many other outdoor adventures near and far.  These boys typically campout every month, on the ocean or in the mountains, and many points between.  The scout district’s week-long summer camp is in the Sierra on the Stanislaus river, at Camp Wolfeboro.  Practically all of the scouts return year after year, and many are Wolfeboro Pioneers, one the oldest fraternities in scouting.  In many years, some of the Troop also go on expeditions, at sites organized by the Boy Scouts of America.  In 2013, some of the Troop went on a 75 mile, 12 day backpacking trip to Philmont Scout Ranch, a the High Adventure Base  in the mountains of New Mexico.  This summer two crews from the Troop will be paddling and portaging canoes for a week and a half in the Boundary Waters of Minnesota and Ontario.  Through its seventy-five year history the Troop has hiked, biked and camped all throughout Northern California, and has traveled to other states, including Hawaii, and even outside the US, to Costa Rica and Canada.
The June 14 anniversary event at Camp Herms will celebrate the  scouts and scouters (parents and adult leaders), their community efforts and adventures and the longevity of El Cerrito Troop 104.  And it will be fun!   The Troop also promises great food, dance music for the whole family, interesting displays and activities from the scouts, meeting past and present scouters and neighbors,  and feeling welcome.    Anyone wishing more information may contact Damian Hayden, 510-###-####.

And the troop produced a special anniversary issue of its Trailmaker newsletter to commemorate the event.

Scouts at 90th Wolfeboro

Troop 104 commemorated the anniversary of the Council’s summer camp in great scouting style, with over 30 boys and 1 girl — from Venture Crew 104 — spending a week in the Sierras near Bear Valley. As usual, campers went this way and that earning merit badges, ticking off skills towards rank advancement, pursuing rockers — particularly the 90th anniversary rocker (which even included singing!) — and hanging out in camp playing cards, or in the case of this year’s camp, jamming on fiddles and banjos.