Doing their duty

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Troop 26 Boy Scouts Mac Henley, left, and Tyler Renfroe work on knot tying during a regular troop meeting at Atmore’s Boy Scout Hut, located on the southwest corner of Heritage Park.

Among the commitments outlined in the Boy Scouts Oath is a promise to do one’s duty to God and country, and after years of absence, young boys in Atmore are once again making that pledge.

The Atmore Scout Hut is littered with numerous awards plaques, one dating back to 1979. It is an award for Top Patrol at the Spring Camporee in the Alabama-Florida district.

Troop 26 went on hiatus for a number of years, but Scoutmaster Tony Gibbs brought the group back together this past April.

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The troop just returned from a camping trip in Pensacola last weekend, where they were invited by another troop as guests. According to Assistant Scoutmaster Greg Babiak, the troop that hosted Atmore’s Troop 26 won first place among all the troops at the camping trip.

Troop 26 had a great experience at the camp and grew in their scouting skills.

In fact, troop members Tyler Renfroe and Mac Henley said camping is their favorite part of being a Boy Scout.

“It’s awesome. I like it,” Renfroe said. “It gives me experience to be with my friends, camping, and learning.”

Henley agreed, when he said, “I guess it’s the camping. I’ve shot a shotgun rifle.”

Gibbs remembers the odd period when Atmore had a hiatus in scouting.

“All of our boys turned 18 and we weren’t getting any young boys,” Gibbs said.

Since then, things have changed.

“We have a very active and pretty good size Cub Scout pack and once the boys got through Cub Scouts, they had no place to go,” Gibbs said. “I went ahead and told them I’d be Troop Master.”

Gibbs has been involved in scouting for about 15 years now. He estimated there are roughly nine total troop members with quite a few more in the Cub Scouts.

Renfroe only recently joined back in August, but he’s already hard at work on earning the Tenderfoot ranking. Henley is already at the Tenderfoot ranking, but has encouraged Renfroe in his quest to earn the ranking. The ranking has several requirements, including first aid, skills in tying knots, experience on camping trips, physical exercises, and knowing the Scout laws.

“To have a Boy Scouts, you have to have a Cub Scout pack to feed the troop and we’ve got that,” Gibbs said. “We’ve got a good bunch of boys. They really seem to be thrilled.”

One of the thrills is the fact that the scouts get to try out more adventurous activities.

“Once they get to be a Boy Scout, it’s a little different. They get to shoot a real rifle and bow and arrow,” Gibbs said. “All of my boys, with the exception of a few, we’re getting started on merit badges, which they all have to have to earn Eagle.”

The group recently had a yard sale to raise funds, so that every one of the Boy Scout members will be able to go to Camp Euchee next summer.

“Summer camp’s a pretty big deal,” Gibbs said. “Summer camp is pretty expensive.”

Babiak estimated the sale was a success and noted he was proud of the hard work exhibited by the Boy Scout members.

Henley, who has three years of experience as a Cub Scout and has been a Boy Scout for about a year now,  said what makes summer camp fun for him is the element of adventure involved.

When asked what his favorite part of the summer camp was, he responded, “It’s probably how far off you might go from your house. You get to stay in a tent. It lasts a week. You’ve got to do different merit badges and other requirements. You eat in their dining hall for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You’ve got to work there. It’s not all fun and games.”

Gibbs himself is no stranger to summer camps.

“I’ve been to probably 12 summer camps with the troops,” he said. “You get to travel. It’s interesting. I enjoy it.”

Babiak said scouting teaches valuable life lessons, including leadership, safety, and service to others, among other things.

The ultimate goal of a Boy Scout is to earn Eagle Scout. In order to do so, a Boy Scout must complete 21 merit badges chosen from a total of about 120 different merit badges. The Eagle Scout culminates in the Eagle Scout Service Project.

“The goal of a service project is to give service to your community,” Babiak said.

For those interested, Troop 26 meets every Monday at 6:30 p.m. at the Scout Hut.