NEWBERRY — Scouting leaders and scouting enthusiasts dined together Monday night at a benefit for area Boy Scout programs and shared a noteworthy statistic about Newberry scouting.
Nationally the rate of Scouts who become Eagle Scouts is 4 percent but thanks to the dedication of parent supporters, Scouts and Scout leaders, the Scouts in Troop 222 in Newberry shatter that statistic.
When Troop 222 reconstituted around 12 years ago, there were seven boys involved, five of whom became Eagle Scouts. Since then, 16 boys have earned Eagle Scout awards, a 75 percent rate of success.
Activities have included camporees, time on the Appalachian trail, Sea Bays retreats, high adventure obstacle courses at Camp Old Indian, white water rafting, and learning to handle both a rifle and a shotgun thanks to support from the Mid State Dove and Quail group in Newberry.
In 2010, 20 members of 22 Troop 222 Scouts attended the National Scouting Jamboree. This year the troop will attend Camp Davy Crockett Frontier Camp and in March 2015, Scouts will spend a week sailing in Florida on a Sea Bays trip.
“We could always use more boys in scouting,” Troop 222 leader Alan Davenport said. “We meet Tuesdays from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.”
Though that troop stands out in Newberry County, the Friends of Scouting group in the county recognized all scout troops for the role they play in developing young leaders for the county and country.
Rep. Walt McLeod was honored as Citizen of the Year by the Newberry County Friends of Scouting and Newberry County Scout Troops.
“Scouting is a vital part of the community throughout Newberry County and this country,” said McLeod. “It’s important we support scouting to help develop character, citizenship and leadership to prepare future leaders for our church, community, state and nation.”
McLeod thanked the Newberry County Council members and firefighters for supporting scouting and the Scouting Explorer’s program.
McLeod was in Cub Scouts but did not pursue Boy Scouts himself. He and his wife, Julie, supported their son, Tad, in scouting, however, at a local troop through Macedonia Lutheran Church in Prosperity.
The younger McLeod, now grown and with a family of his own, was one of 4 percent of all Scouts to earn the rank of Eagle and said his time in scouting helped prepare him for Naval ROTC at Tulane University.
Rep. McLeod said intangibles from scouting helped his son earn an ROTC scholarship, one that helped pay for four years of law school.
He noted influential Americans who are Eagle Scouts such as President Gerald Ford, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Sen. Bill Bradley, former presidential candidates Michael Dukakis and Ross Perot, businessman Sam Walton, Judge William Sessions and filmmaker Steven Spielberg.
David Senn, chairman of the Newberry Friends of Scouting Group, said it costs over $30,000 a year to incarcerate one youth in a detention center but it costs around $150 to support a young man in scouting.
But Davenport pointed out how costs quickly can exceed that amount, noting that it cost $63 just for a class A shirt and badge for a beginner Scout.
Nearly $5,000 of the $20,000 was raised prior to the banquet. By the end of the banquet, another $4,220 had been raised toward that goal.
The Blue Ridge Council represents 12,000 people in eight South Carolina Upstate counties.
The Blue Ridge Council also donates money to the Friends of Scouting Group that helps with maintenance at Camp Old Indian, pays for program supplies when needed, helps fund projects for needy scouts and helps the non-profit council keep the doors open.
Sometimes the Blue Ridge Council can help in cases of financial hardship with shirts or fees.
In a show of brotherhood and scouting family support, over 10 area Eagle Scouts attended as did representatives for the firefighter’s Explorer Program in Newberry.