By Jessica Farrish
When Sophia resident Melanie Leach’s younger son, Tyler, was in elementary school, he tried several different activities.
None of them “stuck,” Leach said.
But then, Tyler, now 13, became involved with the Boy Scouts.
“It’s like it opened up a new world to him,” recalled Leach, the manager of the Crossroads Mall branch of United Bank. “He went on his first camp-out and got involved in the community.”
Watching Tyler’s involvement encouraged his older brother, Mark, now 17, to become a Scout, said Leach.
Both are currently Life Scouts and are expected to become Eagle Scouts, she added.
“It’s taught them so many things about respect, about leadership, about being a part of your community that they couldn’t have gotten from any other organization,” Leach said.
Leach was one of around 25 community leaders — including Pinecrest Development Corp. Vice President Bill Baker and Raleigh County Commissioner Pat Reed — who attended the annual Seneca District Luncheon to kick off the local Friends of Scouting Campaign for the Seneca District of the Buckskin Council.
All local funds help boys in Raleigh, Fayette, Greenbrier, Summers and Pocahontas counties become Boy Scouts — serving the community, gaining mentoring opportunities and learning leadership skills that can build confidence and assist the Scouts in their adult lives.
Seneca District Financial Adviser Butch Antolini reported that scholarships are needed to ensure that local youths can join Boy Scouts of America.
Antolini’s 14-year-old son, Jack, a Life Scout, has been a Scout for eight years.
“It’s been fun to watch him grow in Scouting, and I would like to see every kid that wants that opportunity have that chance,” said Antolini. “My wife and I were blessed so we can finance Scouting, but there are a lot of kids out there that don’t have that opportunity.”
Seneca District Chairman Doug Proctor, a den leader for Bears and assistant Cubmaster in Fayetteville, was an original owner of Class VI River Runners in Fayette County, now Adventures on the Gorge.
The Boy Scouts contributed to his love of the outdoors and led him to West Virginia, he said.
“I had a great Scouting program, and my parents took us on camping trips,” he said. “We probably did every state park in Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio. Things were pretty crude back then, in the 1960s, but that experience of being in the outdoors and also being in Scouts is that true connection on why I’d decided to come down here to be a raft guide making 18 bucks a day back in 1976.
“It’s because I loved the outdoors and that experience I had,” he added. “That’s what Scouting is all about for the kids in these five counties and all of West Virginia.”
Proctor reported that during Jamboree last July, Boy Scouts completed more than 300,000 community service projects in nine counties within the National Park Service districts, valued at around $5 million in time and service.
This year, Scouts ages 14 and older may leave camp at Dilly’s Mill in Pocahontas County and instead attend High Adventure Camp at the Summit Bechtel Family Reserve in Fayette County, said Proctor.
Kids at High Adventure Camp will also complete community service projects, following the Scout motto of doing “a good turn every day.”
“What we need is to get our kids involved, and I think that Summit is that carrot they eventually get to go to,” said Proctor. “We need to capitalize on that and get more of our kids involved in Scouting here.”
Those who want to contribute to the Friends of Scouting Local Campaign for the Seneca District to help local boys become Boy Scouts and attend Scout camps may call District Executive Trey Aliff at 304-308-0405.
A second Friends of Scouting luncheon will be Thursday at Smokey’s on the Gorge.
Those interested in attending may contact Proctor at 304-673-6266.
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