Boy Scouts establish fairground camp again

posted Aug 30, 2008, 8:39 PM by Boy Scout Troop 856   [ updated Aug 30, 2008, 8:41 PM by Boy Scout Troop 856 ]

"Camp Excelsior" activities draw attention, as scouting returns in force to state fair.

Declining membership and a lack of volunteers have kept large numbers of Boy Scouts from showing off their skills at the New York State Fair for years. But this year, the Scouts are back in force and intent on letting people know they're still around.

More than 100 Boy Scouts have been working in shifts to sell popcorn, hand out information, lead demonstrations, play games and help people build bluebird houses on a plot of grass next to a reflecting pool in front of the Horticulture Building. They've turned the plot into a encampment named "Camp Excelsior," complete with a monkey bridge, weather rock and even a catapult - although they haven't fired it.

"We're at a point in our organization where it's almost like we have to reintroduce ourselves to as many people as possible because scouting of yesterday is just that - it's in the past," said Tim Herne, event organizer. He attributes the decline in membership to the number of activities youngsters have today, such as sports, clubs, jobs and school. "We have to redefine and make the public know that we're still a relevant part of our society, our community."

In previous years, handfuls of Scouts were at the fair for only a few days. The last year they were at the fair for its entire run was 1928, Herne said.

The Scouts were absent from the fair last year, but about 10 adults manned a two-person booth in the Science and Industry Building to hand out information on scouting programs, said Martin Mau, executive of the Boy Scouts' Learning for Life program.

This year, the Scouts have been present the entire fair. They are from 456 packs, troops and posts in the Onondaga, Oneida, Northern Lights, Interlakes, Ontario and Tri-Rivers districts, which are run by the Hiawatha Seaway Council. Their new outdoor location has the potential for 370,000 people to pass by, according to Herne, the executive of the Interlakes district.

"Oh, my god, it's such an improvement," Mau said of the new location and extra manpower. "We've really gotten some great exposure and we've picked up about a dozen kids that are going to want to join us."

Michelle Reynolds, of Syracuse, said she was passing by the camp when the some rock-climbing photos caught the eye of her son Emmett, 12.

"It was interesting because he was just asking about it (the Boy Scouts) and we just happened to stumble upon it," said Reynolds, who added that she will be enrolling Emmett in the Boy Scouts.

Emmett said he thought the Scouts' demonstrations were "cool, because I like doing stuff with my hands and building stuff."

Cubs To Camp At Schools Seeking Scouts To Sign Up

posted Aug 30, 2008, 8:36 PM by Boy Scout Troop 856   [ updated Aug 30, 2008, 8:38 PM by Boy Scout Troop 856 ]


If you see a campground on your local elementary school's playground, it's just an invitation to join the Cub Scouts.

Volunteer Boy Scouts from the Horseshoe Trail District of the Pennsylvania Dutch Council will flood Lancaster- and Lebanon-area schools, setting up mock campsites on school playgrounds and talk up the advantages of being a Cub Scout in classrooms for first through fifth graders.

Boys will hear about the program, sample Cub Scout activities and take home a free CD with Cub Scout games and videos or a Boys' Life magazine.

Volunteers also will attend open houses to mingle with the boys' parents and to give them information about Scouting's values. Sign- ups will be held at various schools, churches and fire halls through September.


Every boy who joins will receive a free "I Joined Cub Scouts" T- shirt and two free tickets  Dutch Wonderland.

Interested boys, parents and guardians can attend the sign-up in their neighborhood or call or e-mail the Boy Scout Office at 717- 394-4063 or Find general Cub Scouting information at

Screw FEMA, call the Boy Scouts

posted Aug 30, 2008, 8:34 PM by Boy Scout Troop 856   [ updated Aug 30, 2008, 8:35 PM by Boy Scout Troop 856 ]

We had to go run some errands this afternoon. When we got back, Julie checked her e-mail and found that the den mother for Matthew's Cub Scout troop sent out an urgent request for Scouts to come to the Dallas Convention Center immediately to set up for Louisiana refugees fleeing from Gustav. Matthew put on his Scout uniform, and he and Julie set out for the convention center downtown.

Julie just phoned from the convention center. "Everybody's gone," she said. "The Scouts have already been here and set up 1,000 cots. There's nothing left to do. It's all been done. I tell you, if you have a natural disaster, screw FEMA, call the Boy Scouts."

Heh heh heh. Love us some Boy Scouts.

Eagle Scout raised money for Comair memorial

posted Aug 30, 2008, 10:15 AM by Boy Scout Troop 856   [ updated Aug 30, 2008, 10:16 AM by Boy Scout Troop 856 ]


A granite fountain with carvings of 49 doves in flight has been dedicated in Richmond, Ky., as a memorial to those who died two years ago this week in the crash of Comair Flight 5191 in Lexington.

The fountain, an Eagle Scout project of 17-year-old Brian Huybers of Richmond, is believed to be the first memorial erected to victims of the crash, six of whom either lived in Madison County or had close ties.

They were Carole Bizzack, Brian Byrd, Lynda McKee, Cecile Moscoe, Judy Rains and Victoria Washington.

"When I saw the crash on TV it didn't really hit me, until I saw all the blue buses full of family members," Brian said.

After learning from a Scout leader that Mayor Connie Lawson hoped to erect a memorial to the local victims, Huybers adopted it as his Eagle Scout project.

With guidance from Richmond city manager David Evans -- and volunteer assistance from Russell Sitter, whose Lexington firm "The Fountaineer" designs fountains around the world -- Brian's project was completed in time for the memorial's dedication in Richmond's Lake Reba Park last week.

"This young man was going to community groups and churches and raising money the hard way," said Sitter, himself a former Boy Scout. "You see, he didn't have a connection to the victims, except that he wanted to do something for his community. That kind of selflessness exemplifies what Boy Scouts are about."

Sitter, who designs work for sculptors and who donated most of his work on the 8-foot-tall, 3,000-pound memorial, said he had seen dove images used in several dedications after the crash and that doves seemed a fitting symbol for the fountain.

"The 49 doves carved in granite are all going in different directions … partly because all the people on that plane were going to so many different final destinations," he said. "The only thing that they had in common was that event."

Water cascades over the doves from the top of the tan granite column, set on a base that is being finished in matching granite facia, inset with personal dedication plaques. The walkway around the fountain forms a Celtic cross and is bordered by a garden with benches.

"Brian did a lot of fundraising for the memorial, but we realized that he would not be able to raise the total cost, so we knew that the city would be committed to making up the difference," said Evans. "There are some donations still coming in."

Brian said reaction has been positive from families of those for whom the memorial was created.

Hampton Scout seeks Eagle badge with N.H. SPCA project

posted Aug 30, 2008, 10:12 AM by Boy Scout Troop 856   [ updated Aug 30, 2008, 10:14 AM by Boy Scout Troop 856 ]


HAMPTON —— A Hampton Eagle Scout is putting rescued dogs at the New Hampshire Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals on a better path. Literally.

Winnacunnet High School senior John Derba, 17, of Boy Scout Troop No. 176 in Hampton will construct a walking path for dogs at the SPCA in Stratham to achieve his Eagle Scout status. "I figured it would benefit a larger community rather than just a single town," Derba said. "Not only the people but the animals, too."

With this new trail, SPCA volunteers can walk dogs along it rather than in the parking lot or along the edges of the back yard, Derba said. The trail will wind around the outskirts of the outdoor kennels and dog exercise pens behind the SPCA building.

The path will be made using garden path stones and there will be small rock gardens decorating the edges of the trail. Derba is receiving assistance with the rock work and gardens from Stratham Hill Stone and Stratham Hill Nursery.

The SPCA is in the process of getting granite benches engraved with names of people who have donated to the organization in the past for placement along the trail.

Paula Parisi, SPCA manager of humane education programs, said they wanted a dog walking path and nature trail for a long time. She said the SPCA has large grounds that people walk the dogs on, but it will be nice for people to have the trail.

"We're really excited about it," Parisi said. "It will be a great addition to the landscaping here."

Derba had to finish a number of preliminary requirements before even applying for his Eagle Scout project. He has many merit badges, has done hours of community service, was the senior patrol leader of his troop for three years and is currently the junior assistant Scout master.

The goal of his project is not for Derba to actually construct the path, but to display the leadership skills he has learned as a Boy Scout. He will have help from his troop, SPCA workers and volunteers to build the trail.

Derba will hold a yard sale to raise money for his project on Saturday, Aug. 30 and Sunday, Aug. 31 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at his house, 18 Belmont Circle in Hampton. He is accepting monetary donations people can send to his house to support the project. Derba hopes to have the project completed by the end of September.

Derba said when he is finished with high school and the Boy Scouts, he hopes to go to college to major in cinematography with a minor in acting.


John Derba, 17, of Boy Scout Troop 176 in Hampton holds a yard sale this weekend, Aug. 30-31 to raise money for his Eagle Scout project for the N.H. SPCA. The sale is at his home, 18 Belmont Circle, Hampton. Monetary donations can be mailed to him at this address.

Reverend claims Eagle Scouts contributed to his success

posted Aug 30, 2008, 10:11 AM by Boy Scout Troop 856   [ updated Aug 30, 2008, 10:12 AM by Boy Scout Troop 856 ]

PRINCETON — It’s been 58 years since Rev. Clarence Dillon built a Boy Scout bridge or raced for the finish of a swim meet, but he credits his faith, a solid upbringing and the organization that helped him soar among the eagles with making him the man he is.

The retired pastor of Princeton’s First Church of God on Mahood Avenue watched this summer as Travis Brown, a Princeton Senior High School junior, stood for his Court of Honor and became an Eagle Scout in his own rite. And, as Clarence delivered the invocation during the ceremony, he couldn’t help but think back on the camping experiences he enjoyed and life skills he learned during his own journey to become an Eagle.

“One who experiences a past of Boy Scouting never quite gets over the thrill and excitement of those days gone by in preparation for adult life,” he said.

To this day, Clarence believes his family holds a Boy Scout record. On July 16, 1950, Dillon, his father and two brothers all became Eagle Scouts.

While all three of the Dillon boys, James, Donald and Clarence, started scouting at the age of 9, they never put their whole hearts into the process of completing badges and advancing through the ranks until their dad, Wesley Dillon, became the chairman of the committee of Boy Scout Trop No. 48. As such, the Union Carbide employee took his three sons and other scouts on a two-week camping excursion intot he mountains of Greenbrier County at Camp Clifton Mclinitic.

When the Dillon campers returned, they had a new mission. In July 1949, all four Dillon men decided they would work together to become eagle scouts. It wouldn’t be an easy task, either. At the time, James possessed six merit badges. Clarence had one.

In the year that followed, the Dillons worked hard, and within 12 months, they had earned a collective 91 badges, three Star Ranks and four Life Ranks.

In addition, all four were members of the organization of “Honor Campers” at Camp McClinitic known as the Scouts of the Mountains.

Today, Clarence has compiled a book in tribute to the eagle honor his family achieved together. Its pages carry several a long list of stories written and published in South Charleston, chronicling the adventure and its reward.

One of those stories includes statements from Wesley Dillon, who worked alongside his sons to become an Eagle.

“It has been one of the most enjoyable work of my life. I sure know what it means to work with the boys, and I am sure they enjoyed every minute of it also,” he said.

In recent years, Clarence noted the Boy Scouts organization changed the Eagle Scout requirements to mandate that adults may no longer achieve the coveted rank.

“I think they said it was because it would be easier for an adult to complete the rank and do the work. But that’s not so,” he said. “My dad, he did everything we did. He had to follow us boys over every mountain and through every creek we could find in those days. He showed us by example.”

The activities were always among Clarence’s most beloved scouting memories.

“I liked swimming and being in the river. We always enjoyed hiking and camping and all the things scouts do,” he said, adding diving as a prime project too.

Along the way though, Clarence said he learned a lot about life.

“Really, I think I learned a lot of the things I learned in the Bible too — treat each other with respect, do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” he said.

His face beaming as he touted the organization that clearly holds a special place in his heart, Clarence recounted an observation a judge had once shared with him.

“He said he had never had an Eagle Scout stand before his bench,” he said. “That tells you something about the quality of people that become eagle scouts.”

Much has changed for Clarence and his family since they earned their Eagle pins. His parents, Wesley and Hurtle Gladys Dillon, have passed away, and his youngest brother, Don, died in recent years of of cancer. James is retired from Union Carbide an dlives in St. Albans. And, 13 years after he retired from the pulpit of the First Church of God, Clarence, and his wife, Shirley, still make their home in Village Green, near Princeton.

And, he often looks back on his scouting days with the fondness of a youth well-lived and thoroughly enjoyed.

“I firmly believe that our Boy Scouting experiences and training had much to do with where our family is today. Our father took the much-appreciated time to spend with his boys each sumer, as well as throughout the year. Both parents kept us in church, where they were our youth leaders and taught us everything by example. They showed us the way,” he said.

And, the boys themselves followed those examples.

“We’ve all had a good, Christian life. All the girls we dated were, without question, good, Christian girls, and it’s just been a good life,” he said.

Although he couldn’t be prouder of the Boy Scout experience he had, Clarence said shrinking numbers of scouts worries him.

“Boy Scouting is not the same today. There are far fewer groups of Cubs or Scouts, sinc e other activities are taking over in their place,” he said. “Many of these groups are run by good, dedicated people, and we thank God for them. But, we are so thankful for Boy Scouting in times gone by. It meant everything to us.”

Boy Scouts Survive Flash Flood on Camping Trip

posted Aug 30, 2008, 10:09 AM by Boy Scout Troop 856   [ updated Aug 30, 2008, 10:10 AM by Boy Scout Troop 856 ]

"During the night you could hear like just trees and rocks falling," said Boy Scout Colin Muench.

"It was pretty creepy."

It was also pretty scary, for 13-year-old Colin and the five other New Jersey Scouts who found themselves stranded in an Arizona canyon during a flash flood in mid-August.

But thanks to their troop leaders, their own smarts and some very helpful Native American rangers, the Scouts made it home alive.

Their ordeal began during a camping trip at Arizona's Grand Canyon.

On August 15th, the Scouts and their adult leaders decided to camp at Havasu Falls.

But the next day, a park ranger told them to move to higher ground, because of the possibility of a flash flood.

So they moved.

Saturday night, they say, they went to bed, anticipating another day of hiking on Sunday.

But those plans changed early Sunday morning.

The Scouts say other campers woke them up around 1a.m.

The reason?

A flood was coming through the canyon where they were sleeping. And they had to move fast!

They made it to another campground, where they spent several nervous hours.

But their ordeal wasn't over.

The waters were still rising.

Suddenly, their new campground was under water.

The Scouts and their leaders say they had to climb into trees to keep from getting swept away.

And they had to do it in pitch black darkness.

"It was really, really scary, because you couldn't see anything," said one of the Scouts, 13-year-old Avery Walker, at a news conference back home in Maplewood, New Jersey on August 21st.

The Scouts estimate they were in the trees for only 15 minutes.

But it must have felt like hours.

"We did a lot of praying," said Colin's father, Dr. Kevin Muench, in an interview with ABC News. Dr. Muench was one of the grownups who came along on the trip.

"I told the boys it's OK to be scared," Dr. Muench continued, "But we're going to be OK."

By this point, several Native Americans from the Havasupai tribe had arrived on the scene. The Havasupai live in the area where the flood happened.

The Native Americans alerted the Scouts and the other campers that the water was going down slightly.

At that point, the Scouts and their leaders quickly climbed down from the trees and waded through the shallower part of the water. Dr. Muench says some of the smaller Scouts got piggyback rides from some of the other campers.

But their ordeal still wasn't over.

In order to get out of the canyon, they had to climb up a cliff.

The Scouts say the Native Americans rigged ropes at the top of the cliff, so they and everyone else could climb to safety.

Dr. Muench told ABC the cliff was 70 feet high.

But everyone made it to the top.

"The American Indians helped us a whole lot," Avery told Phoenix TV station KNXV. "Without them, we'd still be there."

Finally, a Black Hawk helicopter flew in and flew the Scouts and their troop leaders out of the area.

The Scouts found that part of the rescue to be particularly cool.

"If I had to ride the helicopter, I would do it over and over and over again," said 12-year-old Ryan Morey, at the news conference after they all got home.

Looking back, Colin says he learned from the whole experience.

"I probably learned a lot of stuff like how to survive a real dangerous situation," he said at the news conference. "It was exciting, because nothing like this has happened to me before."

What did Avery think about their experience?

"I (now) have stories to tell my children," he said.

Where Eagles Dare

posted Aug 30, 2008, 10:07 AM by Boy Scout Troop 856   [ updated Aug 30, 2008, 10:08 AM by Boy Scout Troop 856 ]

Jacob Renuart, 14, hopes to soar with the Eagles after this Saturday.

Eagles as in "Eagle Scout," the highest distinction awarded by the Boy Scouts of America and its international affiliates.

Jacob will take the final step toward that rank this Saturday, when he leads a group of more than 30 volunteers who will paint the exteriors of the rectory (priest's residence) and education building at St. Ann Catholic Church in Haines City, where he and his family worship.

A freshman at the prestigious International Baccalaureate High School in Bartow, Jacob not only recruited the teen and adult volunteers, he raised $1,400 in cash from local businesses, he said. The Home Depot donated some materials, and Publix Super Markets Inc. donated food for lunch, no doubt a key incentive for many volunteers, particularly the boys.

Since he'll need to spend only about $600 for other materials, the rest will be donated to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, an international Catholic group that advocates for the poor.

Once he submits the paper work and the national Boy Scouts certifies he's met all the requirements for Eagle Scout, Jacob hopes his scout troop, Troop 535 in Haines City, will hold the Eagle Scout Court of Honors by his 15th birthday on Feb. 3.

The paint job is the "leadership project," in which the Eagle Scout candidate demonstrates his leadership and organizing skills through a community service effort. Jacob also had to earn at least 21 required and optional merit badges - small projects demonstrating the scout's skill in a variety of areas from art to archery to wilderness survival and wood carving - and hold a leadership position in his troop. He is the troop historian, which requires him to take meeting minutes and snap photos of troop events.

One gets the definite impression the Scouts won't offer young Jacob his last opportunity to soar. In addition to attending one of the county's most challenging academic high schools, Jacob was "Jaguar of the Year," an academic honor at Jenkins Middle School, in the sixth, seventh and eighth grades; a member of the Junior National Honors Society; a statewide finalist in MathCounts, a national middle school mathematics competition; and a chess champion, said his proud father, Dan Renuart, a Haines City pediatrician.

"He's always been an achiever. He sets his sites on a goal and meets it," the father said.

Jacob didn't disagree.

"I don't like to sit around and wait for things to happen," he told me.

Boy Scouts Visit Cherokee Indian Reservation

posted Aug 30, 2008, 10:03 AM by Boy Scout Troop 856   [ updated Aug 30, 2008, 10:05 AM by Boy Scout Troop 856 ]

Submitted Photo
(seated L to R) Beverly Huff, Cody Bullock, David McConnell, Kevin Campbell, Marshall Keiffer, & Elaine Keiffer. (standing L to R) Joe Keiffer, Ben Baldwin, Josh Vick, Kathy Conway, Josh Gibson, Clayton Baldwin, Taylor Conway, John Huff, Wesley Humes, Robert Adams, & David McConnell.

This past weekend several of the Scouts from Boy Scout Troop 585 took a journey back to the beginning with a visit to The Cherokee Indian Reservation in Cherokee, North Carolina.

During their weekend adventure they worked on requirements for Rank Advancement, visited the Oconaluftee Indian Village, took in the Outdoor Drama “Unto These Hills”, along with visiting with several Indians at the campground during a Pow Wow. Also, several of the boys earned their Indian Lore Merit Badge while there.

Rebuilding continues at Little Sioux Scout Ranch

posted Aug 30, 2008, 9:59 AM by Boy Scout Troop 856   [ updated Aug 30, 2008, 10:00 AM by Boy Scout Troop 856 ]


BLENCOE, Iowa - Progress is being made on rebuilding the Little Sioux Scout Ranch after a deadly spring tornado.

Four Boy Scouts were killed and 48 others were hurt when the twister hit the western Iowa camp on June 11.

The basement of the ranger's home, which was destroyed, is now complete. The house should be finished by the end of September.

Work is also continuing on a creek crossing and the main valley has been cleared of nearly all tornado debris. A volunteer team will return in mid-September to continue clearing damaged trees.

Officials say the Mid-America Council of the Boy Scouts of America has received nearly $370,000 in donations toward the $1.8 million project to rebuild the camp.

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