Six years after the founding of the Boy Scouts of America in 1910, the metro Atlanta area council opened its doors, and it’s been providing youth opportunities in citizenship, leadership and values. One of those youth exemplified the embodiment of the Boy Scout pledge was the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a member of a metro-Atlanta Scouting program at Ebenezer Baptist Church downtown.
According to its website, “the Atlanta Area Council has been here as the foundation behind every Scouting experience in metro-Atlanta. For 100 years, the Atlanta Area Council has been developing leaders; making an impact one Scout at a time.” Area supporters and advocates include baseball legend Hank Aaron, former President Jimmy Carter and former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young.
Banner events are being held throughout the year to mark the anniversary. It started with a Scout Sunday and February, and continued with the gathering of 3,000 Boy and Venturing Scouts and their leaders at Bert Adams Scout Camp in Covington for Campout 100 last Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Planning for the event started more than a year ago. Campout 100 was designed to offer an experience much like the Boy Scout National Jamboree.
“Obviously, we wanted to be a fun and exciting adventure,” said Tom Wilson, Director of Resource Services. “We wanted it to be a weekend of fun and excitement and we wanted to celebrate 100 anniversary of the council.”
But, he added, it was a chance to give campers a chance to glimpse how large scouting is and that “it spans the globe and time. I’ll never forget when my dad told me he was a scout, and I immediately felt that connection, the experience we shared.”
Wilson said he thought the Campout had done just that. “I think they saw the scale, the connectivity through time and across the globe. It’s incredibly diverse in its membership, but united in what they believe, the ideals embodied in the scout oath and laws.
“They left understanding they were the future, that their challenge is to bring scouting into the future,” he said.
“We had services all over camp for different faith traditions,” Wilson said. “There were 312 youth and adults at a mass inour dining hall said by Bishop [David P.] Talley, Auxiliary Bishop of Atlanta. We had a Protestant service with 387 present in our arena show area.”
In addition to the Catholic and Protestant services, there were Interfaith, Hindu and Muslim services, as well as a Jewish service on Saturday.
“It was neat for me to see all of the youth involved in that,” he said. “It was the kind of culmination of the event — it brought home the unity and diversity of our ideals. It was inspirational to me to see what a diverse and inclusive organization we are welcoming all faith groups.”
“We could not do that event without Covington and Newton County,” said Tom Wilson, Director of Resource Services for the Atlanta Council of the Boy Scouts. “You know how someone asks you, ‘what can we do for you?’ then they asked us what else can we do? And what else can we do?
“It was Southern hospitality at its finest,” he said.
Wilson gave thanks to Sheriff Ezerell Brown and Newton County deputies, who provided traffic control and patrolled parking areas. Sheriff’s deputies, including a K-9 unit, manned displays about the sheriff’s office. He thanked the county fire department, on standby and for the displays, as well as the school district, which provided areas of Alcovy High School and Heard Mixon Elementary school for parking, and to be used as a staging area in the event of an emergency evacuation.
Among community leaders who spent time at Bert Adams for the program were Covington Mayor Ronnie Johnston; Covington-Newton Chamber of Commerce President Ralph Staffins; Board of Commissioners Chair Keith Ellis; Commissioners John Douglas, who was a camper there as a Boy Scout, and Nancy Schulz; and Sheriff Brown.
Events included Human Foosball, Angry Birds, Quiddich, Bubble Soccer and the Order of the Arrow (all packs and troops patrol units) Great Race. But for Wilson, the most inspirational moment came on Sunday morning.
Throughout the year, Bert Adams provides a variety of camping programs, ranging from summer and winter camps, to youth leadership training. Learn more about Bert Adams Scout Camp and camping summer programs at http://www.atlantabsa.org/2902.
Tiger, Cub, Boy and Venturing scout troops or packs are encouraged to take the Heritage Hike to visit iconic sites, such as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthplace, and the Ebenezer Baptist Church. An exclusive patch will be awarded to Scouts who complete the hike.
They are also encouraged to participate in the April Scouting for Food project or conduct a service project of their own choice, and camp with their pack, troop or crew at Bert Adams or Woodruff Scout Camps.
Throughout the year, the Atlanta Area Council will collect and share 100 stories from 100 Scouts about 100 years of Scouting in the metro area. To learn more about sharing stories about personal Scouting experiences, visit http://100.atlantabsa.org/submit/.
To learn more about becoming a Scout volunteer, chartering organization or a Scout, visit http://www.atlantabsa.org/.