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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.”