Given today’s fast-paced youth culture, the need for instilling values such as leadership, trustworthiness and self-reliance has never been greater. The Boy Scouts of America are passionate about “preparing every eligible youth in America to become a responsible, participating citizen and leader who is guided by the scout oath and law.” Since 1910, the BSA has grown into one of the largest youth organizations in the U.S., boasting more than two million youth members and one million adult volunteers. In Fairhope, Troop 47 is bringing this mission and opportunity to local teens. MB spoke with the troop’s 70-year-old scoutmaster Seth Peden about summer camps and what makes their troop so unique. In his time with the BSA, Peden has led hundreds of scouts and inspired an impressive 75 young men as they have completed rigorous requirements for the prestigious Eagle Scout distinction.
I’ve been a scoutmaster since 1993, so about 20 years now. I’m a retired Mobile City Fire Department captain. I was there for 27 years. Our troop is run more by the youth than the adults, so the hardest thing for us is learning to let them. There are no three or four people who make the troop function.
Scouts must be between 11 and 18 years old to join the troop. After turning 18, scouts can either leave the troop or remain as a youth adult until age 21. If they wish to stay with the troop beyond that, they become adult leaders.
Swimming, fishing and boating are just a few of the fun activities at summer camp. We also teach first aid, shotgun shooting, skeet shooting and even archery. The scouts learn skills such as knot tying, woodcarving and how to build campfires. They are also given free-time during which they can participate in an activity of their choice.
We had one scout who saved the life of his baby niece with the first aid skills he learned. The baby needed CPR. There were three nurses nearby who went to pieces and couldn’t handle the situation. The scout said, “Give me the baby, ” and performed infant CPR.
Every May, we participate in the annual Kids’ Fishing Day event at Weeks Bay Reserve. They have stock ponds down there, and the scouts can catch fish and then have a fish fry. We usually see about 50 youth participate in the event.
Prior to Thanksgiving we have a Scouting for Food service project for the Bay Area Food Bank. Last year we collected almost 1, 800 pounds of food. Our color guard also leads most every parade in Fairhope, including the Mardi Gras and Veterans Day parades. We also handle the flag retirement ceremony on Memorial Day. There is a specific and proper way to retire a flag that is tattered or damaged. We cut out the blue field and then it is no longer considered a flag. We have a ceremony for the flag, during which we disassemble it and burn the remaining parts. The retiring of a flag is not supposed to be done by anyone other than the military or the Boy Scouts of America. People give us their old flags all the time, and we’ve literally retired hundreds. To learn how to turn in an old flag, visit bsatroop47.org. MB
text by Joshua D. Givens • photo by Devin Ford