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Troop celebrates golden anniversary

Troop celebrates golden anniversary

Troop celebrates golden anniversary

Former Troop 342 Scoutmaster John D. ...


    The Boy Scouts of America just celebrated their 104th birthday, and a local troop has the distinction of celebrating almost half of those years.
     Boy Scout Troop 342, sponsored by Statesboro Primitive Baptist Church, celebrated 50 years of scouting with a Feb. 1 banquet welcoming many current and former Scouts and families.
    Rarely does a troop have this kind of longevity in continuous years and sponsorship.
    Approximately 22 boys are on the roster and actively participate in troop functions, and more than 40 young men have completed the requirements over the years to become Eagle Scouts, the highest Boy Scouts’ attainable rank.
    Scoutmaster Lovett Bennett Jr. attributes much of the boys’ accomplishments to their ambitions, but he also believes the leadership surrounding the boys has been extraordinary.
    “Our troop has been very successful due to the hard work of its adult leaders and parents, as well as the constant support of the Statesboro Primitive Baptist Church,” Bennett said.
    The leaders, parents and boys of Troop 342 keep busy throughout the year. With almost one campout per month, fundraisers throughout the year, service and Eagle projects and merit badge classes, the boys never lack for activities.
    “Our Scouts earn their own way to both the high adventure camps (for the older boys) and summer camp (for the younger boys) by selling Boston butts and other fundraisers,” Bennett said. “They also wash cars and trucks each spring for spending money for their trips.”
    The older Scouts have had the opportunity to attend high adventure camps — such as Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, Northern Tier in Minnesota and Sea Base in Florida — every summer, except one, since 2006.
    Some of the service projects completed this year include cleaning graveyards for the Bulloch County Historical Society, building bluebird boxes for Ogeechee Area Hospice, placing American flags on the graves of deceased soldiers during Memorial Day and, recently, helping the Statesboro Food Bank move from the old Sallie Zetterower Elementary School building to the former Julia P. Bryant Elementary School building.
    Boys and young men taking part in Scouts learn much about leadership, citizenship, integrity and life skills.
    “Scouting put my brother and me in a place where we were surrounded by people who were caring and wanted the best for us,” said Alex Acosta, a Troop 342 Eagle Scout. “They helped mold the individuals we are today and gave us a great set of morals to which we try to live our lives every day.”
    Acosta and his brother, Lester, were the troop’s first and second Hispanic Eagle Scouts.
    Alex Acosta quoted the Scout Law: “A scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.” 
    In addition to the Scout Law, Scouts learn and quote the Scout Oath at all functions: “On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.”
    Brooklet City Councilman Tom McElwee, the banquet’s keynote speaker, reminded the boys that their uniforms, merit badges, meetings and jamborees did not make them Scouts. Rather, doing their best to live each day by those two documents is what makes them Scouts.
    Through 50 years of scouting, Troop 342 has seen many boys become leaders and successful young men. The following includes just a small sampling of distinctions of their Eagle Scouts.
    ­— Don Coleman works as a National Park Service ranger in the Blue Ridge Parkway area.
    — Brothers Emerson and Derrell Melton have served as local, professional firefighters.
    — Brothers Bob and Edwin Smith are physicians in the Atlanta area.
    — Jamie Hotchkiss is an employee of the City of Statesboro.
    — Scott Collins is the Georgia State Patrol trooper.
    — Will Bennett works with Hunter Cattle Company.
    Three brothers, Greg, Steven and Griff Parrish of Brooklet, all attained the Eagle Scout rank.
    “Our dad was also an Eagle Scout and was one of three brothers who became Eagles,” said Steven Parrish, who now is the administrative coordinator for the Emergency Department and Critical Care at Houston Medical Center in Warner Robins, Ga. “It was definitely expected in my family. My dad took it very seriously.”
    Through scouting, Parrish was introduced to hiking and backpacking. In 2009, at age 23, he set out to hike the entire Appalachian Trail. He successfully completed the trek in four-and-a-half months.
    And as if that were not enough of an accomplishment, he is credited with saving a person’s life while on the trail.
    “About two weeks into my hike, I came across some day hikers,” Parrish said. “One had just fallen and hit his head on a large boulder and had a concussion. Because of scout training, I knew what to do in the situation.”
    Staying with the injured party for more than six hours, Parrish used his hammock to get the hiker off the ground and covered him with his sleeping bag.
    “He was disoriented, unstable, dizzy and approaching hypothermia,” Parrish said.
    Another Eagle Scout, Torin Danilowicz, a former Statesboro resident, performed the Heimlich maneuver on his mother when she choked, saving her life. He had completed first aid training at summer camp and taken a CPR class from the American Red Cross prior to the incident.
    In the words of former Scoutmaster Emory Melton, “You can go just as far as you want to as an Eagle Scout.”

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