As fall arrives on the calendar, so does the annual recruitment time for boys ages seven and up to join one of the local Boy Scout troops. "Our Pack, number 355 meets twice a month," Bergie Speaks III Assistant Cubmaster of Pack 355 said. "Although we are a fairly small pack, we try to do a lot of activities with the scouts. Our latest excursion took us to Patriot's Point in Charleston where we spent two nights on the aircraft carrier the USS Yorktown. The kids loved it. We also visited Fort Sumter. "Throughout the year we work on the handbook and begin teaching the boys scouting skills," he said. "We have a family camping sleep-over in the basement of the church where the scouts work on their Cub Scout book, watch movies, and learn how to build a fire. Our Cubmaster is Jason Reavis and together we try to encourage the children and present positive attitudes and actions through scouting. Any time of the year a young man wants to join the Cub Scouts, he can, but we do our annual recruitment in the fall through meetings at the local schools. Our only organized annual fundraising program for the BSA begins on Oct. 1, with the favorite popcorn sales." Recruitment efforts begin in September with information meetings at local schools and churches encouraging boys in the first grade and up to join the nation's largest values-based youth development organization. An interested child can join scouting at any point during the year, but an effort is made to recruit members in the fall to begin learning scouting and earning badges and awards. "There is a grant program available through the BSA for families who are financially unable to pay the fees for a child who wants to be in scouting," Speaks said. The BSA is a program for young people to help build character, train in the responsibilities of participating citizenship, and develop personal fitness. The program begins with an adventure in Cub Scouting. Cub Scouts are boys in grades one through five, ages seven through ten. Meetings are usually held twice monthly and concentrate on teaching skills to help enrich the lives of young boys. Boy Scouts are boys ages 11 - 17 who have completed fifth grade. Boy Scouts learn survival skills, first aid practices and specialty skills such as archery, swimming, camping, carving and many other areas of interest. The Venturing program is a co-ed program for children 14 - 20 or those who are 13 and have completed the eighth grade. The BSA is celebrating their 100th anniversary of being a volunteer-based, fee-driven organization. Over 50 million children have been through the programs of the Boy Scouts since its inception in 1910. "The Boy Scouts of America believes and, through nearly a century of experience, knows that helping youth is a key to building a more conscientious, responsible, and productive society. Since 1910, scouting has helped mold the future leaders of this country by combining educational activities and lifelong values with fun," he said. "The Boy Scouts of America believes and understands that helping youth puts us on a path toward a more conscientious, responsible, and productive society. "Scouting, with programs for young men and women, helps meet these six essential needs of the young people growing up in our society: mentoring; lifelong learning; faith; traditions; serving others; healthy living and building character." "People need to learn all through their lives," he said We live in a society that rewards continual acquisition of skills and knowledge. Scouting provides structured settings where young people can learn new skills and develop habits of continual learning that will help them succeed. From its foundation, scouting has offered a concrete program of discovering, sharing, and applying knowledge and skills." At the end of 2009 there were 2,912,039 children in the BSA program with 1,137,971 scout leaders and volunteers. Across the country there were 49,037 Cub Scout packs; 40,977 Boy Scout troops; 8,522 Varsity Scout teams; 19,752 Venturing crews; and 6,137 Posts. The BSA program is based on teaching and encouraging boys to participate in programs with faith traditions saying on their website "Young people need faith. There is abundant evidence that children benefit from the moral compass provided by religious tradition. We acknowledge that faith can become an important part of a child's identity. Each of the major faiths breeds hope, optimism, compassion, and a belief in a better tomorrow. Scouting encourages each young person to begin a spiritual journey through the practice of his or her faith tradition. One of the key tenets of Scouting is "duty to God." While Scouting does not define religious belief for its members, it has been adopted by and works with youth programs of all major faiths." The program also focuses on the need for people to serve others through community service. The phrase "Do a Good Turn Daily" is a core scouting precept. The BSA encourages young people to recognize the needs of others and take action accordingly. Scouting works through neighborhoods, volunteer organizations, and faith-based organizations to help young people appreciate and respond to the needs of others. Another focus for a Boy Scout is to practice healthy living by being both mentally and physically fit. A commitment to physical wellness is reflected in scouting's outdoor programs such as hiking, camping, swimming, climbing, and conservation. First aid, lifesaving, and safety programs are also synonymous with scouting. The BSA programs include strong drug abuse awareness and prevention programs that emphasize the value of healthy living habits. Character building is also a focus of Boy Scouts in teaching children values and responsibility. The BSA focuses on teaching affirmative values such as fairness, courage, honor and respect for others. This begins with the Boy Scout Oath and Scout Law. As many children live in today's society, they often have a need for a mentor," he said. "A person who can have a positive relationship with the child and providing themselves to be a good role model can be an invaluable asset in the life of a child." Local Cub Scout packs include the following: Pack 355 Traphill Baptist Church, 11917 Austin Traphill Road., Traphill; Pack 656 Little Mountain Grange #601, 982 Grange Road., Elkin; Pack 644 Pleasant View Baptist Church, 1073 Mining School Road., State Road; Pack 658 Group Of Citizens Of Cool Springs, 172 Crestbrooke Place, Elkin; Pack 654 Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, 724 U.S. 21 North, State Road; Pack 648 Methodist Men-First United Methodist Ch, 340 Hawthorne Road. Elkin; Pack 625 First Baptist Church, 134 Winston Road., Jonesville; Pack 340 Roaring River United Methodist Church, 1311 Somers Rd., Ronda; Pack 529 Dobson United Methodist Church, 1659 Caves Mill Rd., Dobson; Pack 591 LDS Church - Dobson Branch, 293 Cedar Run Road., Dobson; Pack 653 Boonville United Methodist Church, North Carolina Avenue., Boonville. Direct contact information for each pack and Boy Scout Troops can be obtained by calling the Old Hickory Council at 336-760-2900.