Money should not deter participation in Boy Scouts

Published 11:33 am Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Fun with a purpose.

That is what the Sequoyah Council of the Boy Scouts of America offers to young men in the Tri-Cities region. To make sure as many boys who want to can participate, the group relies on funding from the Elizabethton/Carter County United Way to help make that happen.

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“One of the biggest things we focus on is that no boy will be left out who can’t afford it,” District Executive Mike DePollo said. “We provide scholarships for boys whose families cannot afford to pay. We never refuse a boy who wants to be in the scouts if we can provide a scholarship to make it happen.”

The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to help teach young people skills they will use in life, while instilling in them the desire to make a difference in their communities. Membership in the Boy Scouts costs $24 a year, along with the cost of equipment, books and supplies.

“We know that some families cannot afford that,” DePollo said. “We try to offer scholarships for our programs, along with scholarships to day camp and summer camp.”

Through the camps and sessions, Boy Scouts learn different life skills, such as first aid, team work and wilderness survival, DePollo said. They also complete lessons on civic responsibility and being involved in their communities.

One of the Boy Scouts major projects is Scouting For Food, which collects food for local food banks to be distributed back into the community.

“From personal experience, they will learn skills in scouting that they will not get anywhere else,” DePollo said. “Scouting instills a sense of community responsibility, and the scouts have the chance to pick up on skills they wouldn’t have the chance to anywhere else. It is fun with a purpose.”

The funding from the United Way of Elizabethton/Carter County also helps keep DePollo and other full-time employees out in the community working to recruit new children into the Boy Scouts.

“Right now, membership is key,” DePollo said. “We are focusing on building that back up.”

Currently, Carter County has one pack and one troop, DePollo said. A pack is for elementary age children and the troop is for middle and high school grades. When membership was at its highest, Carter County had six packs and three troops, he said.

“We tried to have one pack for each elementary school,” he said. “Over the years, it had gotten away from that. We are trying to build that up again.”

The goal is to bring the Boy Scouts to each community and have a pack centered in each elementary school again with a troop centered at the high schools, DePollo said.

For more information on the Boy Scouts, call 952-6961.

For more information on the Elizabethton/Carter County United Way, call 543-6975.