"Scouting gives boys a chance to reach their full potential, to develop character and to be a positive person in society," Rev. Dale Swofford, troop Scoutmaster, said. "It's definitely character-building, but it does it in a sneaky way," he said.
While the scouts have fun cooking, camping and volunteering in the community, learning sneaks its way in, Swofford said.
To participate in the Scouting For Food program, the boys were up early Saturday, collecting bags of food, which will be delivered to Tri-C Ministry Monday. On Feb. 5, the boys left approximately 125 empty bags on door handles throughout the community.
The troop then continued its work clearing the Tannery Branch trail, an ongoing project with the Jonesville Historical Society to develop the trail behind the Jonesville First United Methodist Church, where Swofford serves as the pastor. The troop hopes to develop the trail into Lila Swaim Park. Swofford said he uses the outdoors as a tool for building character and leadership skills within the boys.
Included in their full day was the Ebenezor United Methodist Church Sweetheart's Banquet, which featured Jamaican-style foods and Jamaican music. The boys helped cook Jamaican jerk chicken, black beans and rice, and okra and tomatoes.
"I'm teaching the boys how to cook," Swofford said. "It's good for these boys to see a man in the kitchen who knows how to cook." He said he loves watching the boys learn and discover new things.
Following their cooking lessons, the scouts had a sleepover and rested for another full day on Sunday.
Sunday morning, the boys attended church together in uniform for Scout Sunday, an annual day to recognize the scouts and their contributions to the community. Scout Sunday is also being used as a farewell to Scout Committee Chair Don Lackie, who is moving out of state.
"Without Don, I could never have gotten this troop off the ground," said Swofford.
Boy Scout Troop 625 originally began in the 1930s, and Charles "Buck" Tullock served as Scoutmaster for many years until his death in the 1980s. Swofford said the troop flourished under Tullock's leadership and disbanded shortly after his death.
After moving to the area in 2009, Swofford, who has more than 50 years experience in scouting, revived the troop and Boy Scout Troop 625 was re-chartered on the 100th anniversary of BSA. The national organization celebrated its 101st birthday Feb. 8.
"It's just part of who I am," Swofford said of scouting.
The goal is for the troop to be open to all boys in Jonesville, regardless of financial condition, Swofford and Assistant Scoutmaster Dwight Stevenson said
Swofford and Stevenson have big plans for Boy Scout Troop 625. Soon, the boys will be camping once a month year-around and fundraising for summer camp. Summer camp costs $300 per scout, and fundraising will play a key role in allowing the boys to attend. Swofford and Stevenson hope to take the troop to the coast this fall to allow some of the boys to see the ocean for the first time.
Along the way, the boys will be earning merit badges for their participation in a variety of educational activities. More than two million merit badges were earned through BSA in 2009, with first aid, swimming, camping, cooking and citizenship in the community as the five badges most often earned.
"A lot of boys discover their career through scouting," Swofford said. Merit badges include space exploration, cinematography, communications, journalism, and computers, among others. Famous scouts include: astronaut Neil Armstrong, film director and producer Steven Spielberg, broadcast journalist Walter Cronkite and Microsoft founder Bill Gates.
The boys aren't boy scouts for an hour and a half a week...they are scouts for life, Swofford said.
Boy Scout Troop 625 meets at the Scout Hut, behind Jonesville First United Methodist Church, on Mondays from 6:30-8 p.m.