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Scouting revival is Lions goal

A portrait and magnolia painter

Wesson Lions Club is seeking to revive Scouting among young people in and around town.

“Our first task is recruiting new leaders, with the hope that membership of young persons 11 to 17 years old will follow when the roles of Scoutmasters and assistants are filled,” says Alton Ricks, currently an active Lions Club member who chairs its scouting oversight committee and one of the early leaders of Wesson Scouting.

Scouts BSA, as Boy Scouts of America has been known since 2019 to reflect its policy change allowing girls to join separate, gender-specific troops, is one of the largest youth organizations in the United States, with about 1.2 million youth participants. Founded in 1910, about 110 million Americans have participated in its program as part of the international Scout Movement. It was a founding member of the World Organization of the Scout Movement in 1922.

In Wesson, a Presbyterian pastor founded BSA Troop 125 in 1933, and along with subsequent leaders, including Ricks and, most recently Ken Carraway and Wayne McKenzie, built an active organization with some 57 members who received the Eagle Scout Award – the highest presented by the organization.

There were ups and downs in its membership over the years, but the local Troop remained an attraction, particularly for boys, with summer camping at the Hood Scout Reservation near Hazlehurst, until McKenzie left the post as Scoutmaster and the COVID pandemic curbed social interaction.

Rated number eight among the top ten Boy Scout camps, Hood’s facilities include a challenge course with climbing walls, pole swings and dual zip lines that is also equipped for outdoor personal experience games and events. Also at the camp are ranges, targets, guns and ammo for shooting sports; areas and equipment for ATV trail riding, mountain boarding and mountain biking; and lakes and waterways for swimming, boating and other aquatic program.

In Wesson, the Scouts also have their building on Beech Street – venue for meetings and gathering to work on projects.

BSA’s stated mission is to "prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law." Youth are trained in responsible citizenship, character development, and self-reliance through participation in a wide range of outdoor activities, educational programs, and, at older age levels, career-oriented programs in partnership with community organizations. For younger members, the Scout method is part of the program to instill typical Scouting values such as trustworthiness, good citizenship, and outdoors skills, through a variety of activities such as camping, aquatics, and hiking.

The main Scouting divisions are Cub Scouting for ages 5 to 11 years, Scouts BSA for ages 10 to 18, Venturing for ages 14 through 21, and Sea Scouts for ages 14 through 21.

The BSA charters local organizations, such as churches, clubs, civic associations, or educational organizations, to implement the Scouting program for youth within their communities. Units are led entirely by volunteers appointed by the chartering organization and supported by local councils using with paid professional Scouters and volunteers. Learning for Life is an affiliate that provides in-school and career education.

At its peak, BSA had an active membership of more than four million youth in 1973, with the drop since then reflecting decreasing populating of outdoor events nationally.

Contact Alton Ricks at 601-643-2466 for more information to discuss volunteer leadership in the organization.



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