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Extending the congregation’s reach through Scouting

May 20, 2019
By Ty LaValley

Scouts BSA Girl Troop 295, chartered by Springfield United Methodist Church, made history on April 1, 2019, when they held their first meeting at Camp K.T. Wallace in Guyton, Ga. The troop is the first Scouts BSA girl troop in the Coastal Georgia Council, which is located in the South Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church.

The troop began with three girls that crossed over from Pack 295, chartered by Guyton United Methodist Church. Two of the girls earned the Arrow of Light award, Cub Scouting’s highest award, the week prior. The girls wasted no time, immediately jumping into the fingerprinting merit badge class and selecting merit badge classes for summer camp. The Scouts will attend summer camp at Camp Bert Adams outside Covington, Ga., alongside the Troop of boys with the same number.

Frank Patterson, a 2011 recipient of the United Methodist Torch Award, began the girl troop in order: “To see the girls have their opportunity to earn the Eagle Scout award.” Frank was the Scoutmaster of the boy troop for 18.5 years before assuming the position of District Commissioner, which he held for six years. He has returned to being a Scoutmaster in order to pioneer this new expression of the Scouting promise. Troop 295 joins Troop 1, chartered by Bonaire United Methodist Church in the North Central District, and numerous Cub Scout Packs throughout the Conference in welcoming girls.

A few miles away, Rincon United Methodist Church is a prime example of how an aging congregation with few young families can still affect the mission of evangelism in the community through Scouting ministries. Although the church has one to three children and about the same number of youth on an average Sunday, the campus overflows with youth and children on Monday and Tuesday nights with a Boy Scout Troop, a Cub Scout Pack, and two Girl Scout Troops.

The units are a congregational bridge into the community. During a one-year span, the congregation partnered with the units to offer the Program of Religious Activities for Youth (P.R.A.Y.) which resulted in 34 Scouts receiving their age appropriate religious awards. In addition, the congregation recognized 10 adult mentors, awarded the Cross and Flame Award to Scoutmaster, Seth Zeigler, and the Torch Award to the former Scoutmaster turned Committee Chair, Ken Luikart.

Boys from the Boy Scout Troop provided the push power for the Faster Pastor entry in the bed race benefiting the local Family Promise outreach to homeless families. The partnership benefited the congregation, which felt like they didn’t have the ability to provide runners; and the community at large. The service hours between the four units number in the thousands.

Altogether, 88 churches in the South Georgia Conference are home to 128 Boy Scouts of America (BSA) units and 52 Girl Scouts of the USA units (GSUSA).

Ty LaValley is a Scouting Ministry Specialist and is the Conference Scouting Coordinator for the South Georgia Annual Conference. He is a recipient of the United Methodist Silver Torch Award for Scouting.

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