One hundred years of service

I’ll post some thoughts about the Tea Party Convention later on — I’m in between meetings at the Capitol at the moment — but I’d be remiss if I didn’t offer a hearty congratulations to the Boy Scouts of America, which was incorporated 100 years ago Monday.

Scouting was a major part of my life for at least 10 years. I worked at a Scout camp for five summers, attended several national Scouting events and earned the rank of Eagle Scout. But what I remember best are times like burning chicken soup on my first backpacking trip in the Cohutta Wilderness Area, chasing a horse that got loose before a trail ride, learning how to cook biscuits on a makeshift reflector oven in a fire pit (we did get some things right), and recording some of my best memories with my dad, brother and some of my best childhood friends.

It is an organization that teaches responsibility and independence in an era of finger-pointing and dependency. It has helped to shape some of our country’s finest leaders — both those you’ve heard of and those you haven’t — as recorded in two books by my friend, Atlanta native Alvin Townley.

It is an organization that deserves our admiration and thanks. It definitely has mine.

30 comments Add your comment


February 8th, 2010
11:29 am

geez, must be a slow news day. bookman’s screed is about Super Bowl ads? are you aware the Boy Scouts was formed by a British military officer (Baden-Powell) to, among other things, introduce young males to the values and language of the military? it’s true, with WWI on the horizon, Baden-Powell, a combat veteran himself felt it important to “indoctrinate” the next generation of British soldiers. even the Scout uniforms (khaki, campaign hats, etc.) are “martial” in nature. don’t get me wrong, I too was a Scout, although in addition to First Aid, Wilderness Survival, Firemanship and Cooking merit badges, I also smoked my first cigarette and downed my first mouthful of J&B scotch at a Scout Jamboree. be that as it may, I do agree I learned much about personal responsibility in the scouts (never smoked thereafter, and didn’t liquor again until I was of legal age).

Intown Lib

February 8th, 2010
12:27 pm

BSA is all these things you’ve said. I am hoping I can take my boys through it or something like it. But, I’ll definitely be scrutinizing their culture and policies for elements of exclusion before I sign-up. Overall, a good organization though.


February 8th, 2010
12:43 pm

I too was a scout, and I think they have helped a lot of folks over the years. I am worried, however, that values they represent and the culture they try to instill have under attack in the last few years. Independance and self reliance are clearly not the values in vogue under the current powers that be.


February 8th, 2010
1:06 pm

You’re right on with this article Kyle. I would also subscribe that if all the politicians who have been Scouts would apply the Scout Oath and Law in their political life there would be a lot more civility in Washington, DC, Atlanta GA, and other state capitols around the nation. But never let it be said the politicians should lead by example be they Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Tea Party, conservative, or liberal.


February 8th, 2010
2:29 pm

The Boy Scouts of America was not incorporated on this date. It was created by Congressional Charter found at 36 USC 309.


February 8th, 2010
2:46 pm

Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer were Boy Scouts.


February 8th, 2010
3:14 pm

Great article, Kyle!

As a former scout (started as a Webelos in the 5th grade in So. California
and a Boy Scout – only earned First Aid & Swimming as merit badges
before moving to GA), I would like to salute the Boy Scouts of America on
its 100th anniversary, and hope it endures for another 100 years.


February 8th, 2010
3:53 pm

My husband still wants his steaks charred. Claims it’s the Boy Scout way. His tales of Camp Thunder are hilarious.

The Law of the Pack

February 8th, 2010
5:49 pm

I wanted to be a Boy Scout, but I never even made it out of the Webelos. After I was banned from my Cub Scout Den, the 4-H club, and the Young Pioneers, I knew my last chance to avoid reform school and have a normal childhood was with the Webelos, which is a transitional stage between cub scouts and youth detention centers.

To become a Webelo, there is a final exam ceremonial right of passage nite. When my nite came, boy was I nervous. I did okay in naming the 3 parts of the uniform, and I was perfect when I described the meaning of the Webelo badge. But, during the flag ceremony I accidently let the flag touch the floor, and then when I over reacted to lift the flag, I knocked over a framed picture of JFK and the glass smashed into a thousand pieces. Well, that was the end of my boy scout dreams.

So when I see big shots like Kyle Wingfield bragging about his Boy Scout badges and all the fun he had on camping trips, well, it makes me relive some sad moments.


February 8th, 2010
6:53 pm

As a Webelo, me and two other Walton county boys got tricked into going to a two week camp at Rock Eagle one summer.

No body told us that there were CLASSEs!!!! In the summer.

We fought our way out of there the second night and were picked up in Madison a few days later. It was pretty cool before that. I won state in the pinewood derby in 1979. I illegally used power tools to whittle my car. So did everyone else. You had to as per my father.

Harold Hobbs

February 8th, 2010
7:46 pm

I am amazed at all the negative postings about the Boy Scouts of America. The post about having his first cig and alcohol drink in a scout troop was obviously in a unit that was run by Scout Leaders that had no clue how to run a Scout Troop. Yes Bundy and Dahmer were scouts … but what about the other 110,000,000 youths that have gone through the Scouting program and when on to be Congressmen, Astronauts, CEOs, Governors and on and on. There is no doubt that Scouting and in particular those that have made Eagle, have had a very positive impact on the American life style and culture. I serve as a commissioner within the organization and I can tell you that if a troop had leaders like those that neo-Carlinist had, we would remove them immediately. Any organization is only as good as its leaders and the BSA demands that their leader be trained in the positions for which they are to serve. If not, they cannot serve as a Scouter. Yes, scouting was started by a military man in England, with the intend of building character and outdoor skills in young men so that if they so choose, they would be fine candidates for the Bristish Officer corp … but there was no connection between the Scouts and the military, other than Baden Powells prior service. Scouting was brought to the US by a business man by the name of William Boyce. He was helped in the streets of England by a Scout, and the Scout refused money for his service. Mr. Boyce wanted an organization that build character like that in the US. He formed a Scouting unit upon his return to the US and it eventually merged with 2 other outdoor youth groups and became the Boy Scouts of America. There was no military connection with the BSA and it’s founders. Please do not degrade the BSA unless you are fully aware of the great achievements of the organization over the last Century through the Club Scouts, Boys Scouts, Ventures, Varsity, Sea Scouts, Order of the Arrow, Woodbadge, commissioner service, etc. As a side note Teddy Roosevelt was the first Chief Scout Citizen appointed in 1910. Happy Birthday to the greatest youth centered organization in the United States!

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

February 8th, 2010
8:53 pm

Hey Kyle — We went to our first-grade son’s Blue and Gold banquet on Saturday to celebrate 100 years of Scouting. It was a huge gathering — filled a church gymnasium. They got their newest badges and also trophies for Pinewood Derby. My only complaint was it last two hours and we had a 2-year-old going crazy the whole time.

They had a representative there from the larger Boy Scout administration and I’m pretty sure she said that the NorthEast Georgia chapter (or whatever they call it) produced more Eagle Scouts than any other part of the country. So that’s pretty neat. She said the dens here are very strong and the boys really stick with it. They put on a very nice event.

Our first Pinewood Derby was also impressive. The track was all electronic and they could tell the speeds and everything. They had everything projected via computer. Very high tech.

The Boy Scouts have definitely pushed us out of our comfort zone. The camping was good for us to try as a family — we had never put up a tent or camped outside. Also the Pinewood Derby made us use saws — something I haven’t done since 7th grade industrial arts class.


February 8th, 2010
9:18 pm

My father and foour brothers all enjoyed scouting. My sister and I did Girl Scouts as did both my girls. It was all very positive for all invovled.

Lindsey Brown

February 8th, 2010
9:22 pm

I remember getting my Eagle Scout magazine and reading stories written by an old friend. Happy Birthday to an organization that has done so much.

Jeff K

February 8th, 2010
9:31 pm

Happy Birthday to a GREAT organization. My brother was a Boy Scout and now is Mayor of a large metropolitan city. My son was an Eagle scout and is quite successful; he has worked for years since with new Boy Scouts. I too was a Boy Scout and a Scout leader for many years. I can’t think of a finer organization ever developed. The way integrity and character are instilled in the boys alongwith the many other attributes of fine quality is without equal. Maybe that is why many colleges provide credit for being an Eagle scout, or why the U.S. Military Academies place such merit in those individuals that have been scouts. The time we live in is much different from the time when my brother went to the National Jamboree and saw Roy Rogers and Bob Hope. We now get a daily dose of murder and mahem on the news alongwith constant arguments and lies from those we shoule be looking up to. In the midst of this is an organization that has maintained its strength and integrity. God Bless you Baden Powell and God Bless the Boy Scouts of America on their 100th birthday.


February 8th, 2010
10:08 pm

It saddens me to see all of the negative posts regarding such a fine organization. Most of them, I’m sure, are from people who don’t have a clue as to what scouting is really all about.

For 100 years, BSA has been helping to turn young boys into young men by teaching them to live their lives according to the twelve principles of the Scout Law: Trustworthy; Loyal; Helpful; Friendly; Courteous; Kind; Obedient; Cheerful; Thrifty; Brave; Clean; Reverent.

If everyone on the planet lived their lives according to those traits, the world would be a MUCH better place.

Long live the Boy Scouts of America!

Former Scout

February 8th, 2010
11:16 pm

It saddens me the way the Boy Scouts have changed since when I was a scout in the sixties. It had become too dependent on religious groups for its survival. There are some troops that are exclusively one religion or another. To such an extent that non-members of that religious group do not feel welcome.

I am not blowing smoke. The problem is a concern to the Boy Scouts.

If you are a minister and reading this, please do not pressure your members to enroll their sons. Please do not make the church’s Boy Scout troop into the young mens youth group of your church. And finally, if you see someone in your wearing a Scout uniform pushing their religion on a non-member, please ask that person to stop.


February 8th, 2010
11:40 pm

No doubt, Kyle the Conservative loves any organization which actively discriminates against a group of young people who need all those principals listed in the Scout Law so desperately. Go Scouts, the first in a long line of gay-hating “Christian” organizations that gay teens should expect to encounter in their lives.

I was a Scout, but I wouldn’t give them a single dime of my money today – they have become just another outlet of right-wing Christian hate and exclusion.


February 9th, 2010
7:01 am

- Former Scout & lol :

Scouting isn’t run exclusively by Christian churches. The Boy Scout
Troop I was a part of in California was run by a Mormon church. There
are some Troops that are run by Buddhist and other denominations in
Asia and elsewhere. The Boy Scouts of America is but one part of a
global organization of Scouts.

The old issues I still have of Boy’s Life from the early 80’s
had mostly ads for camping equipment, stories about survival and
public service (similar to Reader’s Digest ), military
articles (first article I ever read on the Navy SEALs), and cartooons
of Pee-Wee Harris and a recurring series of British author
John Christopher’s sci-fi book The White Mountains – not
a whole lot of ads or articles by Christian organizations that I can
remember, but that was over 20 years ago – maybe times have

As an adult, I’ve had no connection to BSA, but from what I
understand, most of the Troops are managed by the United Way
organization – there was a scandal a few years back in Atlanta
with inner city Troops with overinflated numbers.

I still think it’s the greatest organization for young school-age
boys to be a part of.


February 9th, 2010
7:27 am

HH, go easy. as noted, it was a slow news day. My scoutmasters were responsible, dedicated men. they most certainly were not aware of the contraband, and when they learned of it, the ringleader was removed from our troop. my point was, it is not possible to account for the behaviors and activities of a troop of 11-14 year-olds. and for all the non-traditional behaviors, our troop did win it share of ribbons at Camporees, Klondike Derbies, etc. we were also cited for administering first aid to a fellow scout who fell while hiking (scalp and facial lacerations). I guess we were; trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly kind, courteous, brave clean and “irreverant”

An Old Scouter

February 9th, 2010
8:09 am

After Lord Baden-Powell passed away, this letter was found among the papers on his desk. It truly tells what he had in mind when he started the Boy Scouts. Early on, someone told Baden-Powell the Scouts were not military enough. He replied, “The military prepares men for war. Boy Scouts prepare boys for peace.” RIP, BP and thanks for everything.


Dear Scouts,

If you have even seen the play Peter Pan you will remember how the pirate chief was always making his dying speech because he was afraid that possibly when the time came for him to die he might not have time to get it off his chest. It is much the same with me, and so, although I am not at this moment dying, I shall be doing so one of these days and I want to send you a parting word of goodbye.

Remember, it is the last you will ever hear from me, so think it over.

I have had a most happy life and I want each one of you to have as happy a life too.

I believe that God put us in this jolly world to be happy and enjoy life. Happiness doesn’t come from being rich, nor merely from being successful in your career, nor by self-indulgence. One step towards happiness is to make yourself healthy and strong while you are a boy, so that you can be useful and so can enjoy life when you are a man.

Nature study will show you how full of beautiful and wonderful things God has made the world for you to enjoy. Be contented with what you have got and make the best of it. Look on the bright side of things instead of the gloomy one.

But the real way to get happiness is by giving out happiness to other people. Try and leave this world a little better than you found it and when your turn comes to die, you can die happy in feeling that at any rate you have not wasted your time but have done your best. ‘Be Prepared’ in this way, to live happy and to die happy – stick to your Scout promise always – even after you have ceased to be a boy – and God help you to do it.

Your Friend,



February 9th, 2010
8:40 am

Its interesting to me that anyone who has an obvious love of nature could vote republican. I know its a generality, but it seems to me that the Republican party does not value the environment like they should. If you have made Eagle Scout, then you have camped next to rivers that should be protected. The free market will not protect nature.


February 9th, 2010
9:05 am

How strange—Lord Baden-Powell didn’t include a section on bashing homosexuals? He left out such an important point, according to the wingnuts?

Oh, and he’s also on facebook. Gotta love the 21st century.


February 9th, 2010
10:08 am

100 years is only 10% of a thousand.


February 9th, 2010
12:14 pm

Eagle 1988, OA, World Jamboree. I can say it is still my most crowning moment in life. Getting Eagle is NOT easy. I still stay in touch with friends from my troop. We often camp, and have introduced my family to the outdoors as well.

Best moment, is when I met a young man (with his father) camping last summer. He was about to transition from Weblows, to Boy Scouts. When I told him I was an Eagle scout, his eye grew very big like I was a hero. I then gave him a Swiss army knife an old scout master gave me. He didn’t understand what a thrill it was for me to give it to him. I hope one day he will.

Intown Lib

February 9th, 2010
12:29 pm

It is my understanding that BSA has something roughly equivalent to a don’t ask, don’t tell policy with regard to homosexual members or leaders. While I don’t want to rain a 100 year birthday for an otherwise great organization, this has to change for my family to participate. This particular tenet of the organziation’s values run counter to the values of my family and in my opinion, the nation’s.


February 9th, 2010
12:35 pm

Having been a member of the Boys Scouts for the past 23 years or so, I can say that it has been a very important part of my life. The lessons I have learned, the experiences had, and the friends made have been amazing. As with any situation, I would encourage anyone that has a problem with this group to learn more about them. It pains me to see all the negative comments. There are some bad apples in this organization, as there are in ANY group. To judge the group as a whole based on a few is a sad thing indeed.

As a boy in the program and as an adult leader, I can honestly say that I have never felt any pressure to lean a certain way religiously or politically. The letter from Baden Powel posted by An Older Scouter sums up my sentiments of the program and it’s goals. I only hope I can help others get as much out of the program as I have.


February 9th, 2010
1:23 pm

100 years of promoting homophobia.

Phil Reinke

February 9th, 2010
9:03 pm

What one receives from scouting has much to do with what one puts into it…yes it depends a lot on the scout masters and the parents…but it also not a spoon feeding organization. It made a significant impat on my life. The Pinewood Derby was one of the highpoints of my scouting experience…both as a scout and the parent of a scout. To give back, for what I received…I just wrote and released a book about the Derby called “Pinewood-Winning by the Rules” ISBN 978-1-60911-153-3. It shows that the BIG race can be won by sticking to the rules…Isn’t that what scouting is all about?
My son was district champ for 3 years in a row. It is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and through my website

Glass House Rocker

February 9th, 2010
9:47 pm

Camp Thunder’s name was changed several years ago to the: :Gerald I. Lawhorn Scouting Base:. The original area of 2200 acres was donated in part by the hardworking people of Upson County for the “exclusive” use of the Boy Scouts.

I own property in the area and grew up there. The Flint River Council and its business associates–Ten Cate/ Southern Mills–have not been popular with area residents for many years.

We believe we may have been exposed to environmental hazards in the community–as well as the population downsteam in Georgia and Alabama and Florida.

Local residences buy their drinking water and take brief showers. They do not water their pets from tap water. Employees at the Southen Mills plant (allegedly) do not drink from the fountains–water which flows from sources underneath the plant, It stinks.

On July 1, 1988 the Flint River Council purchased 330.31 acres of land from Buckeye Cellulose Corp. for the amount of $162,280.00. Fifteen minutes later the Council sold the property to the THOMASTON-UPSON COUNTY INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY for $162.280.00. The property was then leased (or sold?) to Southern Mills, Inc as the location for its new finishing and dyeing plant.

After detailed discussion, the minutes of the Industrial Authority of May 19, 1988 states: “That the Industrial Authority enter into a binding contract with the Boy Scouts Flint River Council for the simultaneous closing of the acreage the Boy Scouts are buying from Buckeye Celloulose(sic), that the officers of the Authority be authorized to borrow funds from local banks to fund that purchase and that the Authority enter into an option with Southern Mills,ind. to sell that same land to Southern Mills Inc. for the cost of the land to the Authority plus interest incurred by the Authority. Which option would run until Sept.30, 1988.”.

On March 19, 1988, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources sent a letter to Mr. Doug Ellis, President of Southern Mills–and reciepient of the BSA;s Silver Beaver award–notifying him that:: “The Flint River and its tributaries will be the primary source of drinking water in the future for the South Metro area. In order to protect the quality of the Flint River Basin for future and current water supplies, the Environmental Protection Division will not approve any new or expanded wastewater discharges (beyond that which the Environmental Protection Division has permitted, approved, or committed to) in the Flint River basin upstream of the Flint River at the rescent (near Molena in Pike County:

Mr. Alfred Bolton and Mr. Steve Mitchell, Southern Mills Senoia were copied–Mr. Boltgon was the project engineer for Southern Mills and Mr. Mitchell was the plant manager. Both these gentlemen served on the Board of the Flint River Council at the time–along with Mrs. Florida Ellis who was also on the Board of the Georgia Conversency. Mrs. Elaine (Alfred?) Bolton was a member of the Flint River Council

Southern Mills had been given unenviable choice by the DNR of renovating, relocating or closing its operation in Senoia because of concerns about the public health.

Thundering Springs produces an abundant supply of water–it has not been interrupted for as long as anyone can remember. No one knows its source. Mr. Bolton had the idea of connecting Southrtn Mills to the imiganiary needs of the Flint River Clounci as an independent indentiity.

In an ad in the AJC Southern Mills announced its long term–100 year–business relationship with the Flint River Council of the Boy Scouts of America, INC. to purchase water for its new plant. Still tax exempt and receiving gifts from various sources.

In the process Southern Mills received a HUD grant. The City of Thomaston submitted an application to HUD for an Urban Development Action Grant. Eventually $1.4 million was received to help finance the infrastructure for the Southern Mills project.

Former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn has given credit repeatedly by the local newspaper, the Thomaston Times, his direct influence for making the Southern Mills Project possible. Of course, Southern Mills, Inc. did have a contract with the Department of Defense.

I am sure ole Sam only knew or cared about the welfare Southern Mills 70 or so employees. The rest of Georgia , Alabama and Florida can be on our own so long as the Defense Contract is safe for Sam and his friends.

Boy Scout leaders, honesty, integrity? Helping the less fortunate, protecting the environment? I will go along with a paramilitary group–at the Lawhorn Scounting Base there is a firing range. The weapons used are heavy caliber and the target is toward the public roadway.

This is all fact and easily verfiable. If you look the area on Google Earth, take a close look at the Canoeing Lake–that “reflection” may not be clouds.


Southern Mills was purchased by TenCate, Inc. TenCate is a European based company with world wide interests. Southern Mills was allowed to keep its name but the contract with the Department of Defense is now with a company based in Europe and one which has “interests” around the world.