Boys 11 and older who think camping, hiking, canoeing, rappelling, archery, shooting rifles, learning survival skills, whitewater rafting, skiing and making boats out of duct tape sound like fun should think about joining Boy Scouts.
Those graduating from the Cub Scouts or new potential scouts who are looking for a Boy Scout Troop, the selection process has been made easier.
Every Boy Scout troop in Lebanon will be at Baird Chapel on the campus of Cumberland University for an open house Monday from 6:30-8 p.m., so new scouts or Cub Scouts looking for a troop and their parents can determine which Lebanon troop is good fit for them. They can talk to scout masters and scouts about troop activities.
David Roberts is the cub master at Tuckers Crossroads and the scout master with the troop based out of First Presbyterian Church. He thinks the open house will make it a lot easier for new scouts to decide where they fit best.
"Normally, in their fifth-grade year Cub Scouts have to visit troops to find a Boy Scout troop. It's hard to track them all down and find out where and when they meet. So parents get tired and say, 'We'll just go with this one,'" Roberts said. "A lot of their success, and whether they stick with scouting and make it to Eagle Scout, depends on them finding the troop they fit into best. Every troop has its own personality, just like every boy does. If he finds the one who fits his personality, he's more likely to make it to Eagle Scout."
There are also practical considerations, such as time and location of meetings.
"If you don't go to meetings, you don't advance, and you don't have any fun," Roberts said. "This open house is even for new scouts. So we said let's get all the troops under one roof. Right now we're looking at about eight Boy Scout troops being there."
He also said the transition from cub to Boy Scout is when the organization loses a lot of boys.
"When you have a boy in fifth-grade, it's kind of intimidating to join with boys in middle school and high school that you don't know. When you're the new guy and the youngest, it's hard," he said.
Scott McRae, executive director of the Walton Trail District of the Boy Scouts of America, said it can be difficult for new Scouts to decide what troop is best for them. The open house is designed to let these scouts make a better decision.
"This way they can choose a leader they like," he said. "They may even meet other scouts they know, so they are more comfortable from the start in a new troop."
McRae also said many troops do fundraising activities, so they can offer scholarships to boys who may have trouble paying troop fees or buying uniforms.
"We had some record fundraising, so for some scouts it can be almost free," he said.
The idea is to make and keep scouts in an organization that promotes values and adventure for boys.
"If you're a new scout or looking to make the transition from Cub Scout, we're going to make it easier," McRae said.