BOY SCOUTS – AN AMERICAN HERITAGE FOUNDED IN ENGLAND

Posted: September 4, 2016 in Uncategorized
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Growing up in rural America in the 50s and 60s, a young boy was exposed to the wonderment of the Boy Scouts of America.  Scouting in Union Parish was a way of life for many of the young men and helped to mold them into good citizens for the future building of our great nation.  As a young man we had two scout troops in the parish.  One was in Bernice and one was in Farmerville and each year the troops would go to summer camp at camp KiRoLi in Monroe.  Named for the three civic organizations that built and supported it, Kiwanis Club, Rotarian Club and the Lions Club, the camp helped the scouts hone their outdoor skills.  This camp was closed in the mid-1970s and moved to property donated by the T.L. James Company and this new camp bears that name.

Scouting originated in England by Lord Baden Powel in 1907.  A couple of scouting type programs in the United States had been started at the same time that Powel had launched the Boy Scout program.  In 1909 a Chicago publisher, was visiting London.  He became lost on a foggy night.  From out of the fog came a young British Boy Scout and provided guidance to help the publisher find his way in the foreign city.  This scout is referred to as the “unknown scout”.  When the American publisher offered the boy a tip the boy denied, explained that he was a Boy Scout and he was doing his daily good turn.  The publisher was so impressed that he met with the English Boy Scout staff.

In 1910 the Boy Scouts of America was incorporated and was later turned over to the YMCA for development.  One of the early ardent supporters of the Boy Scouts was Theodore Roosevelt.  He had been vocal about the decline in the manhood of the American male and saw the Boy Scouts as a means to ensure that manliness would stop its’ decline.

Anyone possessing very old Farmerville High School yearbooks, the Pine Knot, will see pictures of boy scouts in their uniforms.  It was a way of life for the boys of our area.  Farmerville had Troop 16.  Several years ago it was noted that this troop was the longest active chartered Boy Scout troop in Louisiana.  At one time the scouts met in a very unique cedar logged scout hut on the edge of Farmerville. This was built by the citizens of Farmerville after World War II.   Located in the woods, people visiting the hut were greeted with two large totem poles.  A connected garage housed the crown jewel of any troop in the state, a trailer that carried six aluminum Grumman canoes, the only set in the area.  After a half century these canoes are still in use.

As dynamic as Troop 16 was with its material holdings, the true gem of the troop rested in its’ leadership, its’ scoutmaster and the person considered to be one of the best in the country was Larce Holder.  Affectionately referred to as ‘The Big L”, Mr Holder instilled a love of the outdoors, respect for nature and our fellow man while reinforcing the tenants of the Boy Scouts.

Troop 16 was very organized and those that went into the military had an advantage over the other recruits.  Self-discipline and dedication to cause had been instilled into the psyche of these young men. Camping trips were planned a year in advance and each one had a theme.  Canoe trips were a yearly event.  As a child I remember watching on KNOE TV, news footage of f Troop 16 landing their canoes in Monroe after paddling from Farmerville to the Ouachita and on to Monroe.

Many a good citizen came from Troop 16.  Soldiers, sailors and airmen were forged in the hearth of Troop 16.  Bank executives, doctors, lawyers, engineers and even a Federal Judge had their roots with Troop 16.  Good citizens from across the state were members of Mr Holder’s troop.

When I arrived in Saudi Arabia, it was quit gratifying to watch the yearly Halloween parade in Dhahran.  Leading the parade were four Boy Scouts and being carried by one was the flag of the United States of America; the only place the American flag would fly in public outside of American government installations.

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