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New Boy Scout troop serving south Cape Girardeau
A new Boy Scout troop, No. 4215, meets weekly at the Cape Area Family Resource Center in the underserved area of south Cape Girardeau, according to Bill Crowell, Boy Scout district executive for the local Shawnee district.
"I don't really know of any Boy Scout troops that existed in the area before," Crowell said.
"We've been trying to get something started up in that part of town ever since I started here," Crowell said. "That was September 1999. The problem has been in getting someone in the community to step up to the plate."
Crowell said the credit in getting the troop off the ground goes to Jerry Hampton, assistant district commissioner.
Hampton, a Cape Girardeau resident with 40 years of experience as a Scoutmaster, values Scouting principles -- continuing to instill them in boys and young men after retiring in 2005 as Scoutmaster.
Hampton said his next-door neighbor, Dave Rutherford, expressed interest in having the Masonic lodge he belonged to, St. Mark's Masonic Lodge, sponsor a troop. Two Masonic lodges teamed up to sponsor the troop: Harmony Lodge No. 401 and St. Mark's Lodge No. 93.
Hampton and Crowell then visited the Boys and Girls Club of Cape Girardeau and spoke to the executive director, Luther Bonds, who created a planning group with the intent to recruit a Scoutmaster. Hampton said it took four to six months of meetings and phone calls to pastors he hoped would help to get the message out in finding a leader for the troop. Although Hampton said he was getting discouraged, he felt it was important for the south side of town to have a Boy Scout troop.
"Scouting should be made available to every kid regardless of how rich or poor, the color of their skin or where they live," Hampton said. "You can drive up and down South Sprigg seeing kids on the street. I'm thinking I don't want to see these kids get in trouble."
The troop has been meeting four months ago and already the group of 12 Boy Scouts have participated in the Multiple Sclerosis Walk, gone camping with Troop 5, and advanced from Scout to Tenderfoot and are now working on their class 2 rank.
Troop 5, an established troop, invited the new boys out to Elks Lake for a campout and helped them learn some of the requirements needed to advance in rank, troop committee chairman Herman Ray said.
Ray, who has participated with the boys in the activities, said Troop 4215 still needs volunteers.
"The boys in the troop are my motivation. They need to have something to do besides hang out on the streets and play video games. I'd like to give them the opportunity to do more things," Ray said. "I wish we had more people participating since we're just learning and need help to get things done."
Besides attending meetings, adult volunteers receive training, manage the troop and guide the Scouts. Troop 4215 Scoutmaster Howard Triplett volunteered to be a leader to the Scouts when he heard about the opportunity at a True Vine Ministries lock-in, his church in Cape Girardeau. Triplett is a member of the men's group at his church and has been a volunteer fireman at East Cape/McClure and Fruitland for eight years.
"Some of my boys, they don't have a father figure. We're there to help. We want to get them to believe they can do anything if they try hard enough," Triplett said.
"My dad was gone. My mentor was my mom and grandma," he said. "My mentor now is my pastor."
Troop 4215's upcoming activities include a south side cleanup Saturday; an open house from 7 to 8:30 p.m. May 19 at the Family Resource Center; a campout at Trail of Tears May 23 and 24; fundraisers for summer camp during May and then summer camp from June 21 to 27. When they get back from camp, the boys plan on going horseback riding.
"Scouting will offer opportunities and open up a new world to them," Crowell said. "They get exposed to new things because of merit badges which may open up careers for them as they become future leaders. I just think it's going to provide a lot of different opportunities to do things they haven't done before. Leadership, community service, camping, rock climbing and repelling."
While mentoring older boys, Triplett plans to enroll his sons, ages 6 and 7, in Cub Scouts. More information about the Cub Scout den can be obtained by visiting Jefferson Elementary School.