Sikeston Depot Museum features display of Boy Scouts memorabilia

Monday, January 11, 2010
Jim Starks, chairman of the Cherokee District Centennial Committee, works on a display at the Sikeston Depot Museum celebrating the Boy Scouts' 100th anniversary year. The exhibit will be on display through January and February . (JILL BOCK ~ Standard Democrat)

SIKESTON, Mo. -- When asked about his feelings on the Boys Scouts of American organization celebrating its 100th birthday this year, Vern Griffith had one word: "Cool!"

"This is a big deal for all of the Scouts, I think," said Griffith, the Cherokee District chairman and former scout master of Troop 41. "Scouting has come a long way over the past 100 years, and I know it certainly has changed in the last 40 years since I was a Boy Scout."

To mark its centennial, the organization will have several events across the nation, state, and right here in Southeast Missouri.

"We have a bunch of different things planned," said Jim Starks, Cherokee District centennial chairman. "Each district has been asked to have an activity, and ours is a display of Scouting memorabilia at the Sikeston Depot Museum."

The display includes old uniforms, books, patches, neckerchiefs, pictures, old Scouting equipment and more. It is now on display at the Depot, 116 W. Malone Ave., which is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday in the Depot's main gallery through the end of February.

One particular item of interest is the Troop 41 original charter from 1939, Griffith said. "It lists the unit leaders and committee members," he said. "And many of them are names that are recognized today as being community leaders."

Starks said the items on display have been gathered over the past few months from past members.

Mike Marsh, director of the Depot, said the display is well-rounded.

"We're really pleased with everything," he said. "And all the patches and neckerchiefs almost creates a secondary display."

For Marsh, the exhibit has special meaning.

"Scouting is a topic really close to my heart. I was a Scouter, Eagle Scout and leader," he said. "It means a lot to me, and I know it also means a lot to an awful lot of people."

Griffith and Starks agreed that while Scouting has changed a lot in 100 years, the organization's goals remain the same.

"The overall mission of Boy Scouts is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetime by instilling in them the values of the Scout oath and law," he said. "A lot of that is developing leadership skills in the boys, both within their individual dens, packs or troops, as well as in the community through service projects and being aware of how the community works."

Starks added: "It's been a big impact on the lives of a tremendous amount of people. In my opinion it's one of the better, if not the best, programs for boys."

Although camping skills and learning to tie knots are important lessons for Boy Scouts, that's not all Scouting is about. "It gives them a lot of access to different life skills, teaches leadership and really good values," said Starks.

Through the year, the individual units are asked to participate in special events and come up with their own, said Starks.

"One of them is an alumni search, in which we're trying to get in touch with our alumni, get them registered and involved again in the Scouting program," he said. "We also have a generations connections program, and are encouraging people to trace their generations in Scouting."

Additionally, the units will put on demonstrations or other events. "We'll have outside presentations on Dutch oven cooking, knots, lashing and more," said Stark. He said unit leaders plan to publicize the events, which will be open to the public.

A mini jubilee is planned in St. Louis for June, which local Scouts will attend. Other displays are also in the planning stages for Kennett, Portageville and other towns in the Cherokee district.

Starks said he's looking for a big turnout from several individuals when it comes to celebrating the centennial.

"There are generations of Scout leaders and volunteers in the area who really want to come forward and take part in these celebrations," he said. "There are so many men and women who played major roles in the Scouting network and we would like for each and every one of them to be a part of this century of service celebration."

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