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Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2016

Boy Scouts still going strong

Sunday, February 16, 2003

David Lee Brashears works on his Pinewood Derby truck with his dad, Tim.
SIKESTON -- Eight-year-old David Lee Brashears has been working for weeks on his truck for the Pinewood Derby. At the moment, David Lee's having a little trouble because the wood is splitting where the wheels are supposed to go, but, the three-year Cub Scout member assured, "It's OK. It can be fixed."

What started as a kit containing two pieces of wood and glue has transformed into a truck -- complete with a flatbed -- that needs a couple finishing touches such as a coat of paint and tires and wheels. David Lee will race his truck at the area's Cherokee District Scout-O-Rama in March and said he can't wait.

Eagle Scout Michael Hasty, 17, remembers his Pinewood Derby days as a Cub Scout. And as a Boy Scout, it was a trip to South Carolina, where the Scouts saw the USS Yorktown submarine, that sticks out in his mind as one of the best experiences in Boy Scouts. Most recently, Hasty was hired for staff at the Scout's summer camp where he will work with and teach younger Scouts.

For 93 years, the Boy Scouts of America has been providing memories for millions of boys across the nation. February is the anniversary month of the organization and several local Scouting programs in the area have been celebrating the occasion.

For example, members are encouraged to wear their uniforms to church and school during anniversary week which was Feb. 2-8. They're also encouraged to take part in activities that recognize the organization and members. Also in February, the Cub Scouts hold their Blue and Gold event where members are recognized for their accomplishments and receive badges.

"I learned so much through Scouts," Hasty said. "It's so much fun. I think I might have learned more from scouting than school because they relate so much to the real world. It gives you a reality check."

To obtain the highest rank of Eagle Scout, Boy Scouts must complete a service project that they have coordinated and successfully manage and complete. Hasty chose to repaint his former grade school's playground equipment, which was in Morehouse.

Cherokee District Executive Nick Roberts joined the Scouts as a Cub Scout in 1985 and worked his way up to Eagle Scout. He then went on to receive a degree in outdoor recreation from Southeast Missouri State University and has been currently working as a professional scout for the past two-and-a-half years.

"The one thing parents comment on most is the fun that their kids are having," Roberts said. "It's not a classroom setting. We have fun as well as meet our goals.

Membership since 1910 totals more than 110 million nationwide, according to data supplied by the Boy Scouts of America Council. Currently there are 1,600 members in the Cherokee District, which includes Scott, New Madrid, Mississippi, Pemiscot and Dunklin counties.

Roberts said membership is definitely on the rise for the area. "A lot of people are looking for a tradition they can share and continue with their kids," he said.

Vern Griffith is one of those parents. A former Scout, Griffith reacquainted with the Scouts when his son joined. He now serves as Scoutmaster for Troop 41 in Sikeston.

"I had a very positive experience in scouting as a youth," Griffith said. "Now, to a certain extent, I am reliving those days. My goal as Scoutmaster is if I can help some of these boys have the same experience I had, then I've succeeded."

Currently 400 adults volunteer for the Cherokee District, Roberts said. Volunteers make the program, and it wouldn't exist without volunteers, he added.

The purpose of the Boy Scouts of America--incorporated on Feb. 8, 1910, and chartered by Congress in 1916--is to provide an educational program for boys and young adults to build character, to train in the responsibilities of participating citizenship, and to develop personal fitness.

Leadership development is probably the top priority in the Scouts, Roberts said. Community service is a large portion of what the Scouting program is about, Roberts said.

Last year the district donated 8,000 hours of service to the community, Roberts noted. Service ranged from scouting for food, cleaning up the city park, participating in the Adopt-A-Highway Program and conducting U.S. flag retirement ceremonies.

Of course Scouting isn't for everyone, Griffith noted. "We don't push boys to advance to the next level," he said. "If they want to, that's fine. If they don't, then that's OK, too."

Scouts learn to always be prepared, as the motto suggests, and treat others the way you want to be treated, Hasty noted. "You have so much fun -- but you learn at the same time," Hasty said. "And because it's so much fun, it sticks with you long after the experience is over."