Boy Scouts in Vicksburg set to Celebrate 75 Years of Service

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Boy Scouts from Troop 251, with one of their leaders, Dan Gettle, gather for Veteran’s Day observance in Oswalt Park in 2014.

By Sue Moore

February 2015 marks 75 years of continuous service by Boy Scout Troop 251. Being able to celebrate this milestone is a huge accomplishment for the youth of this community, according to Scoutmaster Kevin Borden.

To recognize this anniversary, the Troop is planning an official announcement at the Feb. 8 11 a.m. Scout Sunday service at Vicksburg United Methodist Church (VUMC). The church is the sponsoring organization of the troop and Pack 251.

Vicksburg troop 251 was originally chartered in 1917. During the Depression it missed a few years due to hard times. The troop re-chartered in 1940, making 2015 its 75th year of continuous service. Cub Scout Pack 251, led today by Renee Hawkins, was chartered in 1950, making 2015 its 65th anniversary year.

Eagle scouting is the highest achievement for a Boy Scout. Over the years, 47 boys in Troop 251 have attained that rank, with the latest being Alex Cannizzaro and Danny Gettle in 2014. There are currently 11 Life Scouts in Troop 251, Borden is proud to say. Life Scout is the rank before Eagle Scout.

Feb. 8 will kick off a host of activities being planned throughout the coming year. Those activities will include a spaghetti dinner before the evening performances of the Rotary Club Showboat, a camporee at the Historic Village on April 24-26, which the community is invited to attend, an anniversary float in the July 4 Schoolcraft parade, and a Nov. 11 celebration honoring the nation’s veterans at VUMC.

Currently, there are 40 boys enrolled in Troop 251 and 66 cub scouts in Pack 251, representing a big increase in membership over the previous year. The community’s dedication to scouting has impacted many lives according to Kip Young, the organizer of the year-long 75th anniversary celebration. Adult leadership of the scouts is just as dedicated with many people stepping forward to make the various anniversary events happen, Young said.

Troop 251 Boy Scout headquarters are at the Boy Scout cabin located on Barton Lake. It was built by the Rotary Club in 1949 on land donated to the scouts by the Charles Aulm family. It’s a terrific outdoor venue that provides Vicksburg scouts a place to meet during the spring, summer and fall months. The cabin is also a great place for an occasional winter campout.

Scouting’s mission is to prepare every eligible youth to become a responsible, participating citizen and leader who is guided by the Scout oath and law, Young emphasized. Scouts experience many hands-on outdoor and community service programs that are designed around fun with a purpose, he said. “Scouting makes a difference in families, the community, and most importantly the youth of Vicksburg.”

Like anything, scouting costs money to provide the programs necessary to keep the youth engaged. Therefore Pack and Troop 251 are launching their Strong Scouting Strengthens Communities capital campaign as part of their 75th anniversary celebration. The goal is to raise funds for scholarships, equipment, and other support services needed to provide a top-notch program and keep the growth momentum in Vicksburg going.

The Scouts will be asking the greater Vicksburg community to dig deep to help fund their goal of $40,000 needed to help sustain current growth and to lay a foundation for the next 75 years of scouting in Vicksburg.

Fundraising efforts throughout the yearlong celebration will include the sale of special commemorative T-shirts, hats, patches and other items. Money raised will help the Scout Growth Fund and purchase equipment such as tents and a new roof needed at the Boy Scout cabin. In addition, funding will be needed to help pay for celebration activities, including street banners in downtown Vicksburg, a scout silhouette display and camporee at the Depot in the Historic Village.

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Boy Scout and Cub Scout leadership gathered at the Vicksburg United Methodist Church, their sponsoring organization, to plan the 75th anniversary celebration. They are from left to right standing: Kip Young, Todd White, Gary Miller, Kevin Borden, Renee Hawkins, Buff Coe, Gary Fleming, and Vickie Schmidt. Kneeling from left to right: Chris Goodwin, Dan Gettle, and Matt VanderMeulen.

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