From Staff Reports
Local boys seeking adventure, need look no further than Boy Scout Troop 555, its leader says.
Scouting in Texas has a history that goes back more than a century, with challenges that keep getting greater and greater.
Sometimes seen as a camping club, it’s in fact an organization that successfully makes leaders out of young boys.
With its roots in the military, the Scout movement worldwide has achieved more than most people imagine, helping boys learn new skills, have fun and generally excel.
Jefferson Scout Master Scott Baldwin told the Jefferson Jimplecute a little about the successes and failures of the local movement recently. Scout and Cub Master for 11 years, he said that sadly, recruiting efforts for someone to lead the Cub Scout Pack had were not successful, “so the Cub Scout Pack went away last year.”
But Scott isn’t stepping down anytime soon, and he is hugely proud of troop 555, which he describes as “truly a boy-led troop.” They camp out one weekend a month in summer and winter, and in all, average about 30 nights a year camping.
A highlight this year was the summer camp up north in Talihina, Oklahoma. “I think the boys all enjoyed the water sports at summer camp – canoeing and kayaking – and we had a couple who did some climbing.”
Why Should Jefferson Boys Consider Scouts? Scott’s immediate answer is that the mission of scouting is to make leaders of young boys. They work through scouting until they become young men, improving their skills with guidance and supervision so that they can ultimately accomplish their goals.
The highest rank attainable in the Scouts program in the US is Eagle Scout, and since it was first awarded in 1912, more than 2 million boys have earned it. Essentially, it recognizes both leadership and service.
There are currently three Eagle Scouts in the Jefferson Scout troop. There is another Scout who is about to do his Eagle project and another two boys who are working their way up and will likely become Eagle Scouts quite soon.
But in addition to Eagle Scout recognition, there are 188 merit badges that Scouts can achieve. To achieve Eagle, a Scout must earn 21 merit badges, but only 13 are required, leaving the Scout plenty of room to explore other badges.
The others are directly related to sports, hobbies and even potential job careers, ranging from archery, target shooting and golf to welding and pottery. Last year, the Jefferson Scouts even offered a merit badge for ice skating.
Scott likes a challenge, and he likes his Scouts to embrace challenges too. One of his favorites was two years ago when they camped in freezing conditions while the boys worked on merit badges.
“It was freezing outside and raining the entire time. But the boys started a fire and kept it going the entire weekend. They also turned out all the meals and did the cleanup. Most people would cringe if they thought of this, but it is one of my favorite memories. Many of the boys were ignorant about what it would be like out in the freezing rain, but they were having fun and we got to learn something.”
An accomplishment indeed! Ultimately, as Scott points out, scouting offers a brilliant lesson or two for boys, and it’s a good place for kids to be.
Maybe somebody will even opt to help regenerate the Cub Scout Pack!
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