Baird Chapel on the campus of Cumberland University was a beehive of activity Monday night as every Boy Scout troop in Lebanon converged for an open house so new scouts, or Cub Scouts looking for a scout troop, could talk to scoutmasters and take a look at what Boy Scouts has to offer.
Activities ranged from knife safety and making fruit cobblers in the parking lot to learning about home improvement and making homemade ice cream.
After passing leaders of Friendship Christian's Troop 206 demonstrated the way to make fruit cobbler in a Dutch oven, once in the door potential scouts met leaders Don Guy and Terry Sage of Troop 302 who spoke about knife safety complete with a large set of knives and tools.
"Some of these knifes are not allowed," said Sage as he demonstrated the difference between the forbidden knives that don't lock back and the ones that lock in place for safety. "Our council prefers a lock-back knife that won't close on your finger."
He said once a scout demonstrates proficiency with "Tote n' Chip," he can use a knife, axe or saw under supervision.
"Until you do, you're not allowed to carry one," Sage said.
John Stier, scoutmaster of Troop 302 said the open house was designed to keep boys interested in staying in scouting.
"When they graduate from Cub Scouts, that's when we lose them," he said.
Nearby, scouts Holden Guy and Van Anderson were churning homemade ice cream and demonstrating that scouts isn't all rough and tumble.
Across the room, scout leader Jim Gannoway showed Webelo Zachary Marshall, 9, the proper way to tie a rope and hang on in a life-or-death situation.
"Don't let go," Gannoway told Marshall. "If you're in a stream, you can't let go."
Potential Scouts and parents were crowded around the table where Scouts T.R. Kirby, Mason Roberts and David Mangrum discussed what they liked best about scouting.
"I think it's really fun - kayaking, rifle shooting, camping and climbing," Roberts said.
Troop 900 out of Trousdale County is one of the smaller troops, but large on fun. Scouts Cameron Hall, Robert Bergdorff and Stephen Sullivan displayed the awards the troop won for sawing a log, tomahawk throwing and for having the best campsite at the 2012 Springboree at Camp Boxwood.
"We went skeet shooting [Sunday]," Bergdorff said.
Assistant Scout Master Curtis Rowlett looked on while two scouts worked on tying knots.
"You learn a lot of good skills in the ranks," he said. "Scouts also participate in a lot of service projects and learn good citizenship. They learn what we call life skills."
Troop 643 out of the First United Methodist Church intrigued a lot of boys with their home improvement demonstration.
"They learn how to reset a breaker, how to wire an electrical outlet and learn to do it safely and gain control of the electricity," said David Morley, a parent volunteer with the troop.
That troop also boosts a lot of Eagle Scouts, including Jameson Sorrel, whose father, Dr. Harda Sorrel, is the troop leader.
Scott McRae, executive director of the Walton Trail District of the Boy Scouts of America, said the open house was a success and it had hardly begun.
"Oh my gosh," he said. "What a great turnout."
It seems in the Boy Scouts even a leader can continue to grow. Two such leaders were honored in a ceremony to mark their completion of the Wood Badge. Wood Badge is a training course for scout leaders, which results in their receiving a certificate, a small neckerchief, a leather slide and two small wooden beads on a leather thong. Lord Baden-Powell, the founder of scouting, directed the first course in 1919 and gave each of the participants one of the beads, which he had captured from the African chieftain Dinizulu. The name developed because its symbol was literally a badge of wood.
roy Davis invested Phillip Price and David Roberts with their Wood Badge.
Boy and their parents continued to come through the doors and taking a good look at the available troops in Lebanon and the surrounding area. One thing was for sure, Scouting offers boys adventure and growth to make them better men and better citizens while having a whole lot of fun.
Staff writer Mary Hinds may be reached at 615-444-3952, ext. 45 or firstname.lastname@example.org.