When John Green first donned a Boy Scout uniform in 1950—as an assistant scoutmaster—he had no idea that he was beginning a journey that would span a lifetime.
Green, founder and owner of John M. Green, REALTORS®, followed an uncommon path to become a Scout leader. He had no scouting experience, nor did he have children in the program. (His son would later participate, earning the rank of Life Scout.)
But when a college friend asked him to help resurrect a local Boy Scout troop, Green says, it seemed a natural fit—he loves the outdoors and working with young people. Since then, the modest, unassuming Green has left an indelible mark on his hometown of Franklin, Tenn., serving as mentor for generations of young men.
“I’m convinced that many of us might never have become firefighters, stockbrokers, or park rangers without the guidance of John Green’s Scout troop,” says Ronald Crutcher, an Eagle Scout with Troop 137 in the late 1950s. “Outside of my immediate family, no one in my life has helped me as much as he has.”
Green served as scoutmaster until the early 1970s, when he took a three-year sabbatical to focus on his own young children. After about 20 years in scouting, he’d already established a worthy service career. Remarkably, though, Green’s longest-running contribution to the program was still to come.
In 1975, Green founded Troop 137—chartered by his church, the Fourth Avenue Church of Christ—with about 16 boys. The troop now has 125 Scouts, age 11 to 17, and eight adult leaders, with additional help from many supportive parents.
Leading the Scout troop isn’t Green’s only involvement with his church. He taught Sunday school for 30 years and has served as deacon since 1982. For 12 years, he led the church’s benevolent ministry, which distributes $5,000 a month to charities.
Boy Scout Troop 137 meets weekly at Green’s renovated barn, and Green takes pride in staging experiences there that Scouts might not otherwise encounter. In the barn and surrounding area are ham radio equipment, computers, an archery range, and a telescope. Scouts tend bee hives on the property and cultivate vegetables in the garden. The troop has even raised a calf.
“We look for ways to give the boys something to work with, no matter what they’re interested in,” says Green, who helps to oversee the other adult leaders and instructs kids hands-on.
Green’s troop sponsors monthly campouts and an annual week-long stay at Camp Boxwell, near Nashville. For older boys, the troop sponsors adventure trips every year. Past destinations include the Adirondacks, Glacier National Park, and Philmont Ranch in New Mexico, a working ranch nestled in the Rockies. At 75, Green still takes part in some of these expeditions.
Green’s longevity and dedication have made him a legend in the Boy Scouts of America’s Middle Tennessee Council, says Daniel B. Sutherland, the council’s district executive. He cites Green’s uncanny ability to motivate both the youth and the adults in his troop.
And Green’s influence extends beyond what he brings to the weekly meetings. He also spends time counseling Scouts through family crises and life decisions, says Sutherland. Despite the troop’s size, “John knows every Scout by name, he knows their parents’ names, he knows where they are in their progress toward Eagle.”
Green’s contributions have earned him some of Scouting’s highest honors. But despite the recognition, he remains modest about his contributions. “I’m just a scoutmaster—that’s all I am,” he says. “And I’m fortunate to have very good people to help me.”
He’s more glowing when he talks about the scouting program and the boys he’s taught. Green stays in touch with many of his former charges and says that seeing his Scouts as productive adults “gives you the feeling that you’ve done something right.”
Although the city of Franklin has grown in size over the years, today’s Scouts are much the same as those he instructed 50 years ago. “They’re as good today as they were then,” Green says. “It’s good to have some things that last.”
Like Green himself. At an age when many people are enjoying their leisure years, Green has no plans to hang up his uniform. “I feel like I need to contribute what I can,” he laughs, “for as long as they’ll let me.”
How to contact John Green
John M. Green, CRB, GRI
John M. Green, REALTORS®
118 4th Avenue North
Franklin, TN 37064
Middle Tennessee Council Boy Scouts of America
3414 Hillsboro Road
Nashville, TN 37215