Local News

March 20, 2014

Area’s Eagle Scouts honored

Dalton native and Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Kyle Wingfield lauded the Boy Scouts of America on Thursday for its impact on the lives of those who take part in scouting.

Wingfield spoke at the Northwest Georgia Council of Boy Scouts of America’s 2014 Dalton/Whitfield Patron Lunch, an annual fundraiser. The luncheon honored local men who have reached scouting’s highest honor, Eagle Scout, especially those who earned that rank 50 years ago or more.

Wingfield, himself an Eagle Scout, noted that many of today’s political debates boil down to a tension between self-reliance and individualism on one side and concern for the community and for the common good on the other. Wingfield noted that most people find both sets of values worthy, wanting people to be self-reliant and to also be concerned about their community.

“Where we draw the line is what we disagree about,” he said.

Fortunately, Wingfield said, there is an organization that teaches boys and young men both sets of values, that teaches them to both be self-reliant and to be concerned about the greater good. That organization is the Boy Scouts.

Wingfield went through the requirements just to make Tenderfoot, the first rank in scouting. Those include demonstrating and teaching others how to tie various knots, explaining what a bully is and how to deal with one, explaining the buddy system and how it relates to personal safety on outings, demonstrating how to care for someone who is choking and showing first aid for various injuries, and explaining the scout oath, law, motto and slogan.

“There’s a lot of explaining,” he noted.

To reach Tenderfoot, a scout must also help pitch a tent, help prepare a meal while camping and show improvement in various physical exercises.

“Try to imagine many teenagers who aren’t involved in scouting trying to do some of those things,” Wingfield said.

Dalton Scoutmaster Jimmy Shaheen, himself an Eagle Scout, agrees that scouting teaches many important lessons. But he says most scouts probably don’t realize that until they have been one for several years.

“Nobody comes to scouting and says, ‘I want to learn about citizenship,’” he said. “They say, ‘I want to go camping.’ ‘I want to shoot a gun.’ ‘I want to do a ropes course.’ Well, they can do all of that, and, along the way, they pick up these other things as well, the citizenship, the first aid.”

Several people said that with the increase in the number of single-parent homes, scouting may be more important than ever.

“With the changes going on in the family, young children, boys particularly, may not pick up these things in the home. They may not pick up on them at school, and they may not be attending church,” Wingfield said.

Thad Watters, president of the Northwest Georgia Council, which covers Whitfield, Murray, Chattooga, Floyd, Gordon, Bartow and Polk counties, said it would well serve the young scouts attending the luncheon to see the dozens of Eagle Scouts who attended.

“It will encourage them,” said Watters, himself an Eagle Scout. “Part of the journey to Eagle Scout is working with those older than you. I think that seeing these men and learning what they have accomplished in their lives will help these scouts be more proud of what they are doing.”

Billy Nimmons, former pastor of Dalton’s First Baptist Church, was presented the Boy Scouts of America Distinguished Citizen Award for leadership in the community. Nimmons has served on numerous denominational boards and on the boards of several Baptist colleges and universities as well as being active in various community groups.

Officials said the luncheon raised $27,285, which will go toward funding scouting in Whitfield County and in the Northwest Georgia Council area.

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