The members of Boy Scout Troop 1109 in south Forsyth plan to go camping more often. However, they don’t have some of the equipment required for such trips. The troop hopes to raise $2,000 for future outings. The Scouts held wash earlier this year and are planning a fall fundraiser as well. In addition, the troop has a Go Fund Me page at gofund.me/w62gvs.
SOUTH FORSYTH — A Boy Scout troop in south Forsyth that aims to teach its members leadership skills has earned several honors since its formation earlier this year.
Troop 1109, charted in February by the Kiwanis Club of Cumming, consists of 18 boys ranging in age from 10 to 16. So far, they have earned 27 merit badges, including one for American Heritage and Aviation Merit.
The boys also have gone geocaching, learned first aid and flown airplanes out of DeKalb-Peachtree Airport.
“The whole point of a merit badge is to give [the Scouts] exposure to a skill or a possible profession that they never would have had any opportunity to do so,” said Alex Gubbins, committee chair. “Some of them had never been in a plane before.
“So to get up there and actually fly at the controls, to realize, ‘Wow, I might want to actually do this as a profession,’ is a pretty cool thing.”
Gubbins was motivated to help start a new troop because she and her son wanted to find a smaller group. Forsyth County has high enrollment in Scouts, with one in four elementary school-age boys involved.
“In the area, most of the Scout troops have between 80 and 100 boys,” she said. “It’s very hard to find a spot to camp with 60, 80, 100 boys. We were really looking for an experience that would be smaller and allow the boys to have opportunities for leadership.
“When they’re in larger troops it can be years before they’re in a leadership position.”
Luke Stiers, 16, is the senior patrol leader for Troop 1109 and serves as a mentor for the younger members. He recently completed a week-long National Youth Leadership Training course in Gainesville.
The Northeast Georgia Council has more than 5,000 Boy Scouts, and about 160 were chosen for the program.
Stiers has been involved with Boy Scouts for five years and said he has learned valuable life skills.
“I’ve learned how to care for anything from recreational places to my backyard,” he said. “I’ve also learned how to lead by example with younger Scouts … I’ve learned scout skills like knots and how to pitch a tent.”
Committee secretary Stephanie Sanderson said Boy Scouts is a great learning experience.
“They learn public speaking because they’re in charge,” she said. “They learn responsibility. They go shopping when they go camping for the food … it’s a fantastic program.”
Scoutmaster Michael Scott said the troop is a “boy-led institution” that provides leadership experience.
“We let the boys do for themselves. Sometimes it’s a painful road to learn,” he said. “As leaders, we don’t jump in and take over and do for them. We just instruct them and guide them … instead of having a bunch of followers, you have a bunch of leaders.”
Scott became a den leader for his son’s Cub Scout troop seven years ago and has been involved ever since. In addition to being the scoutmaster for Troop 1109, he is also the cubmaster for a local Cub Scouts pack.
His son was previously a Cub Scout in that pack. When they needed a leader, Scott stayed with them as his son became a Boy Scout.
“I just couldn’t see them go without,” Scott said. “It’s such a good pack, and we had such a strong experience with them.”
Scott said the troop leaders have told the boys that they should aim to “leave a legacy” with their work.
“Something that in 20, 30 years, they can come back and say, ‘I was a part of that. Our troop is still around. Look at what we did, look at what we started,’” he said.
This legacy, he said, is evident in the boys’ earning of the Founders badge, which is awarded to Scouts who are members of a troop in its first year.