Boy Scout Troop 149 has been chartered to Friendship Presbyterian Church and its Men’s Club since May of 1959, and celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 2009 with an event featuring alumni and current members. There were 9 scouts in the troop when it was first chartered under Scoutmaster Starr Lee. Troop 149 has met continuously since that time, with ups and downs of activity level, size, and adult leadership. Paul Matthews accepted the position of Scoutmaster in August of 1994, and the troop has grown to include many active youth and adults, who help out in various capacities ranging from troop committee positions, to assistant Scoutmasters, to merit badge counselors and event coordinators. Troop 149 is one of the largest and most active troops in the Cherokee District, our 9-county area, and also provides leadership at the Cherokee District and Northeast Georgia Council level through our adult volunteers. Our Scouts regularly provide leadership beyond the troop level, for instance as summer camp staff and as leaders of the Order of the Arrow, Scouting’s honor society.
Some “Points of Pride” for Troop 149 include:
- The troop is recognized annually by the Council as a “Quality Unit” and has also won numerous awards, ranging from the best web site/marketing award, to the Unit Safe Scouting Award.
- At least nine adults with Troop 149 have received the District Award of Merit, the district’s highest recognition for adult volunteers; and three of our adult leaders (Paul Matthews, Mike Floyd, and Bill Orr) have been recognized with the Silver Beaver, the Northeast Georgia Council’s highest recognition for Scouting volunteers. Troop volunteers have also been recognized as Scoutmaster of the Year, Scouter of the Year, Assistant Scoutmaster of the Year, Committee Chair of the Year, and Committee Member of the Year, for all units in the Cherokee District.
- The troop takes part in about a dozen camping trips per year, including a week of resident camp at Camp Rainey Mountain in Clayton, GA, and weekend activities such as backpacking, wilderness survival, rafting, canoeing, bicycling, caving, snow-skiing, waterskiing, and rifle and shotgun shooting. High-adventure activities have included 7 two-week trips to Philmont Scout Ranch in northern New Mexico, as well as six sailing trips in the Bahamas.
- As of February 2010 (Scouting’s centennial!), 82 young men have earned the top rank of Eagle Scout in Troop 149, including 60 during Paul Matthews’ tenure. We have averaged about 7 Eagle Scouts per year recently.
- Our troop carries out dozens of community service projects every year, which are selected, coordinated and staffed by our Scouts. Since we began tracking service projects in 1995, well over 200 service projects have been logged, representing some 14,000 hours of direct service and tens of thousands of dollars in donated materials and supplies. These projects are very diverse, and range from roadside cleanups; to sending care packages to overseas military; renovating playgrounds, landscaping, and mulching at local churches and schools; sorting canned goods at the food bank; building outdoor classrooms, concessions stands, gazebos, retaining walls, and storage buildings for local schools and non-profits; recycling Christmas trees; retiring US flags; and many, many more.
Our regular troop meetings are held on Monday nights from 7-8:30 pm at Friendship Presbyterian; we meet every week, except the week we are at summer camp and the Tuesday between Christmas and New Year’s. For each meeting, the rotating Duty Patrol is responsible for setting up, leading the flag ceremony, and cleaning up after the meeting. The members of this patrol will need to be at the meeting a few minutes early and stay a few minutes after.
In keeping with our goal of a boy-led troop, the Senior Patrol Leader and his Assistants run the meetings, which are planned at monthly Patrol Leaders Council meetings. Most months have a theme, which may relate to the camping trip as well. Participants are required to be at the troop meeting prior to any camping trip, to help with planning.
Our goal with every meeting is 100% of our Scouts engaged in meaningful activities. We try to plan to have skills instruction for newer Scouts; an Eagle-required merit badge being offered; and at least one other merit badge or instructional activity for older Scouts. Instruction is done by our Scouts, Assistant Scoutmasters, and Merit Badge Counselors. We also have inter-patrol competitions or games at each meeting, then a closing ceremony.
Philosophy of Scouting
Scoutmaster Paul Matthews explains some of his philosophy of Scouting:
“Our goal is to deliver the Promise of Scouting. That is, we want to ensure that every Scout who is in our troop gets the chance to take part in the adventure, character development, leadership development, skills development, self-confidence, and of course, FUN that is Scouting! As Lord Rober Baden-Powell, founder of Scouting, noted, Scouting is ideally a “game with a purpose”– providing meaningful opportunities to develop skills, ethics and character, in the context of having a great time. If we can create a program that is consistently fun (for youth AND adults), follows BSA’s principles, and provides growth opportunities for all our members, we feel like we are meeting our goals.
We do this through the Methods of Scouting– for instance, the Advancement program, patrols, Camping/Outdoors activities, interaction with adults, leadership development, the Uniform, etc. Advancement, and working towards the rank of Eagle Scout, is not the end goal of what we are after but a great method and by-product. In our troop, we want to provide the structures and opportunities so that every Scout can achieve ranks and merit badges, showing his continued development of proficiencies, leadership and skills and receiving recognition for his efforts, up to Eagle Scout and beyond. Our goal is at least one camping/outdoor activity every month, including troop and patrol camping trips. We also want to ensure that we provide opportunities for our Scouts to help pay for their Scouting activities, through fund-raisers and “Scout accounts”– a Scout is Thrifty. No one should have to forego Scouting due to financial concerns. We also value the ideals of service to each other and to the community, which we demonstrate through leadership and service projects. Equally importantly, we value and affirm the worth of all our members– there is no place for bullying, hazing, or harassment in Scouting. We are all part of the World Brotherhood of Scouting.
Finally, we consistently strive to promote youth leadership, and to achieve a boy-led troop. We value and need adult participation in our troop, and have a range of areas that adults can help with; we encourage our adults to be active and to take part in training to help them realize their potential. At the same time, we recognize that youth development is a key focus of what we are about. Our Scouts, with adult and peer guidance and support, are capable of great leadership and decision-making, and our job as adults is to help them develop and implement those skills (the “be, know, and do”) to successfully operate our troop and to develop their own self-confidence and leadership abilities. As Baden-Powell said, as adults we should ‘never do anything a Boy can do’! Our goal, then, is to be the best troop we can be, to support the development of youth and adult members, to deliver the Promise of Scouting, and to have a great and adventurous time while meeting these goals.”