The words "Troop 4" bring many different memories to my mind...
I'm Matthew Lyles Hornbostel. I was an Assistant Scoutmaster for nearly a decade with this infamous and vaguely distressing inner-city boy scout troop. Before that I was a scout in the troop and earned the rank of Eagle with the group. Combining the time I've been a scout and the time I have been a scout leader, I was with Troop 4 for over 16 years, and I enjoyed it because I enjoy organizing games and group activities, shooting comedy videos, and teaching new ideas and concepts to people who haven't learned them yet. I'm the sort of guy who likes entertaining people and gets a kick out of the excitement that results from putting a big event together and getting it to go off smoothly, so whether that's a group game or a video screening, or a road trip or troop Christmas party, it's usually a great experience for everyone.
I can put a positive spin on the group, because it has plenty of genuine strengths. The scout leaders are hardworking, responsible, and follow the BSA guidelines, including the ones which make no sense whatsoever. We've been all over the map; in its final two decades Troop 4 has set foot in Arkansas, Hawaii, Missisippi, California, New Mexico, Louisiana, Colorado, and various parts of Texas. Scouts in Troop 4 get free food, free camping gear, free clothing and handbooks, free road trips... we do not ask any of the scouts to pay dues, we don't insist on wearing standard scout uniforms - T-shirts and jeans are often permitted - and we have an outstanding list of scouts in the last few years, who have reached the rank of Eagle Scout, and many of them have stayed with the troop as leaders after they turned 18, because they like the road trips, campouts, team games, parties, and various special occasions.
I also acknowledge that campouts and meetings can be unpleasant sometimes in Troop 4, due both to uncontrollable natural forces or inexperience, incompetence, and blatant misbehavior of Troop 4 scouts. I remember burnt food, misuse of tools, loud yelling for no reason, random acts of stupidity, insect bites, injuries, objects getting hit with axes, torrential rain, scalding summer heat, spiders, scorpions, fires, theft, broken cameras, broken windows, tent shortages, hideous stenches, blisters, cuts, wasp stings, splinters, blood, sweat, tears, desperation and exhaustion, and the look of panic in the eyes of the leaders who keep trying to keep things under control when something goes wrong at a scout event. So I'll admit that being in Troop 4 can be difficult. Scouting tests our mental, emotional, and physical limits. Obviously, you'll get more out of this program the longer you stick with it, but if you stay in Troop 4 long enough? We've been in remote wilderness, in snow and desert and swamps, in canyons and on beaches. We've hiked up mountains, and hiked 20-mile routes in 102-degree heat. We develop leadership skills, emergency preparedness and survival skills, first aid... we can tell you how to navigate by the sky, how to build a shelter, collect rainwater, how to fish, use a knife safely, how to start a fire without a lighter or match. We've built physical strength, and prepared for hurricanes, fires, and disaster scenarios. Stay long enough and you can learn CPR, bandaging, knots, crafts, swimming techniques, cooking, and selected topics chosen from a long list of merit badges. And yes, Troop 4 has won local contests for our accuracy with rifles and shotguns... and thoroughly failed to identify the seemingly obvious body parts of a horse. (One boy confused 'hoof' with 'neck'... it was embarassing!)
I also look back at Troop 4 as a comedic goldmine. Nowhere else have I found so many things that are so crazy and thus so easy to spoof. Troop 4, you see, was no mere boy scout troop. It was the oldest continuously running scout troop in the Houston, Texas area, and - to my knowledge - the only scout troop to have become a multimedia franchise. Other scout troops may have recorded videos, sure, but how many have deployed a FundLaser? How many troops can boast this many Eagle Scouts and yet also so many unmotivated dropouts who show up but fail to reach Basic Scout after a year? Only a troop as special as Troop 4 could have someone there for five months without being able to register them or figure out their name... that's Troop 4. Pathetic, yes, but pathetic with a lot of awesomeness mixed in there somewhere. So take a look around; we've redesigned this website, it's back, and it's set to expand - rapidly - complete with videos, comics, and hopefully some video games. If, for some insane reason, you still want to visit boy scout Troop 4 after browsing this not-approved-by-the-BSA website, we used to meet on Mondays at 7:00 PM, at Redeemer Lutheran (5700 Lawndale, Houston, TX, 77023). I say 'used to meet' because the troop dissolved in 2020 during year one of the Covid-19 pandemic. Even when it still met, we could never predict how many people would show up to a given meeting. Usually it was somewhere between 'none' and 'fifty'.
I think it's also worth pointing out the two inaccuracies in the content of this page, the first being that the oldest surviving documented evidence of Troop 4 activity dates back to 1916 and not 1918, - and while the troop already existed in 1916 we cannot say with any confidence that it ran continuously from then until 2020. (Due to the Spanish Flu pandemic, it may have gone on hiatus for about a year for 1917, but we've got no surviving documentation to say whether the troop was still chartered during that time and therefore we may or may not have been the oldest continuously running troop in the Houston area.) Secondly, the really big confusing thing here is the reference in our lower graphic to Cub Scout Pack 1, which [effectively] dissolved a few years before the troop itself went under.
A few notes that need to be made: This site will feature a ton of satirical content (video, game, and comic content) which is not bland, totally inoffensive, and humorless like the BSA would like.
If as webmaster I were to make any attempt to raise funds for the troop through or connected to said content directly, even if the funds raised by said content all went to the troop fund, it would still be in a legal gray area that could result in legal action by the BSA. The BSA is tightly controlling of its IP and has strict rules for fundraising, so we're not going to make any attempt to sell anything or have any ads or any such thing, on this website. You won't be seeing anything that even remotely suggests we're making a profit on anything in this website. We won't accept donations here either, despite the annual costs attached to having this domain exist online.
Not only does this site not generate any kind of revenue, it costs more than you might think. There's another site I run that has video content unrelated to scouting, and that site has some ads.
Ad revenue there plus a bit extra is divided between cast members present in those projects, and cast members in the Troop 4 videos.
So anyone who in the past was in T4, and appeared in one of the T4 video productions, should understand that soon (by mid 2023) those videos will be posted on this website under the videos section, but they will not be accessible to the whole internet, just those with the passcode! The videos will be password protected. There will also be additional comics spoofing the troop posted in the near future, along with a small Troop 4 adventure game.
If you were in those videos, expect to be paid a small fragment of cash each year, early on in the year, starting in 2024. If as you read this, it's past March 10, 2024, and you are not seeing any pay for your participation, this may be due to my lack of contact info for you. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what form payments should be made in. I can send these small annual payouts via any of the following:
-Paypal -Google Pay -Amazon Pay -Google Pay -Venmo
-Amazon gift cards -Apple Pay
Let me know. Contact me for discussion of desired payment method, and/or to request access to the video section.