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Celebrate Central: Our Boy Scout Program

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By Mia Freneaux

    Most folks are aware of the history of the Boy Scouts Program – how Robert Baden-Powell, a British officer stationed in India, was discouraged to find that his soldiers did not have even the most rudimentary tracking or first aid skills.  Upon his return to England in 1907, he developed a program for boys that taught them stalking, pioneering, cooking without utensils, and other “survival” skills.  He then wrote a book, “Scouting for Boys”, and history was made.  The history of the Boy Scouts Program in Central may not be as well known.  A mere 14 years after Baden-Powell began his first troop in England, Troop 1 was formed in this area with ties to Central.  From research done by Bill Axtell and others who have been involved in the scouting program for years, Troop 1 can be linked to Troop 13, whose earlier records show it meeting at Central High School (the old white wooden school!).  Troop 13 reformed after it was officially chartered at Zoar Baptist Church in 1934, then moved to Blackwater United Methodist Church in 1939.  Their charter from 1940 is one of the oldest continuous charters in Louisiana.  Thus begins a 70 year verified record of active scouting in the City of Central. 

    Many of Central’s finest went through Troop 13.  Bill Loudon is the first recorded Eagle Scout, receiving this honor in 1937.  Teddy Smith was the next, but could not be awarded his Eagle till he returned from World War II.  He later became Scout Master.  Other Scout Masters well known to this community include Harold Ballard, Sam Lewis, Bill Axtell, Wes Forman, Charles Carmena and Alvin Loudon.  The first Central man to receive the Silver Beaver, Scouting’s highest volunteer honor, was Ray Pearce.  He has been followed by many Central men who took the time to work with boys and pass their skills on to them.  Central has a proud heritage of involvement with this fine program. 

    The Cub Scout program has been in place in Central since before World War II, though the charter has continuously been renewed for 35 years.  Many people recall with fondness having Cub Scout meetings led by Mary Grace Lewis in the tree house built by Joe Lewis at their Blackwater home before World War II.  If you have other memories or history notes, Jeff Sibley is trying to compile a more complete history of Boy Scouts in Central and would be glad to have any information or historical items.  You can contact him through this paper.

    Presently, Central has 3 chartered Scout troops.  Troop 13 meets at Blackwater United Methodist every Monday from 6:30 – 8:00. Matt Byland is its Scout Master.  The Troop stays very busy- activities this year included attending the Centennial BSA jamboree in Virginia, touring Philadelphia and Washington D.C. on the way. Boys from Troop 13 who attended were Matthew Terrio, Dustin Sinclare, Louis Wittenburg , Lucas Byland , Zane Byland and Gabriel Sibley. 50,000 Scouts from all over the nation attended! A look at http://www.flickr.com/photos/boyscoutsofamerica/sets/  will give you an idea of the incredible amount of activities the boys crammed into 8 days.  Some Community activities the Troop  participates in yearly are placing flags at tombs at Port Hudson Cemetary in preparation for Memorial Day, Cooking for Central ( Clean up, bussing tables), Arbor Day tree planting at Blackwater Conservation Area, the Central Christmas parade, Annual popcorn Sales, and the American Cancer Society Relay for Life – (distributing water, Clean up, Parking Cars).  The boys also have a monthly Camp Out with different themes such as Canoeing or Cold Weather Survival.

    Troop 322 went to Camp Kia Kima, in northern Arkansas in June for their Summer Camp 2010.  It was a great camp, where the boys participated in everything from swimming to electronics, climbing to canoeing, backpacking to emergency preparedness, and everything in between.  The Troop had 7 scouts and 2 leaders travel to Colorado this summer for a High Adventure trip. They visited many interesting sites on the way there and back. They visited: The Air Force Academy, Capulin Volcano in New Mexico, Pikes Peak, Foss State Park in Oklohoma, The Boy Scout Museum, as well as the Oklahoma City Memorial. The group had a great time white water rafting the Arkansas River. They stayed at the Abbey in Canon City Colorado. The Troop has helped the community with the St. Joseph’s Altar at St. Alphonsus, Clean up Central, Cooking for our Kids, and the annual St. Alphonsus Parish Fair. Troop 322 meets in St Alphonsus Room 102 on Mondays with its Scout Master, Mike Schlatre. 

    Troop 74 meets in Central at Scout Master Marty Munley’s home in Comite Hills Subdivision at 6510 Bryce Canyon Dr S.  Mr. Munley can be reached at 225-921-5068 or at cmunley1@cox.net.  Troop 74 meets every 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of the month at 6:30 pm.  They have a  website at  www.LA74.us.  In the last few years, The Troop has been to Camp Woodruff, Georgia, rafting on the Nantahala River, and to Camp Daniel Boone, North Carolina.  Several Troop 74 scouts and Mr. Munley, the First Assistant Scoutmaster for Istrouma Council Troup 1532, traveled to the 2010 National Jamboree this year.  Venture Crew 74 offers young adults (males and females ages 14 to 20) a chance to experience outdoor activities as well.

    The big excitement this year is the Istrouma Area Council Centennial Camporee on October 22-24.  2,000 local scouts are expected to be in attendance.  All three of Central’s troops will be there.  Every one of our troops has expressed the desire to let the community know they are available for any and all service projects.  Just contact the Scout Masters and a group of well-trained boys will be at your disposal!  With such a long standing tradition of service and personal integrity, Boy Scouts is definitely a program worth considering for your son or your own volunteer efforts.

BOY SCOUT TROOP 13 doing a service project and on a trip in Washington, D.C. (submitted by M.T. Byland):

 

 

BOY SCOUT TROOP 74 in Woodruff, Georgia (submitted by Marty Munley):

BOY SCOUT TROOP 322 in Camp Kia Kima, Arkansas (submitted by Randy Ryder):

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