Scout troop for court looking for volunteers

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 28, 2004

[7/28/04]A would-be Boy Scout troop for Warren County Youth Court first-offenders has plenty of interest among prospective members, but needs volunteer help to get going.

About 25 boys 11 to 15 are in the group, said Horace Allen, intake officer for the court, who has been conducting its meetings. So far, he has given the youths an overview of the program and instructed them on Boy Scouts of America tenets like the Scout law, oath, motto and slogan.

The group was started last fall under the direction of the judge for Youth Court and Warren County Court, Johnny Price.

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The ideals of the BSA were one reason it was chosen for a Youth Court troop, which would be the first such troop in the Andrew Jackson Council.

“I got into it myself,” Allen said. “I mean, I started going over the Boy Scout Oath, you know, (…) honor to do my best,’ and I got into it.

“The kids, they love it. They love the structure of it. I have videos to show them, videos about it. The adventure part is what I like to tell them you know, get them out camping. Some of them have never been camping, never been fishing, and so I think that will be great for a lot of the kids who will be doing it.”

The group is looking for a scoutmaster and volunteers, Allen said.

Youth Court administrator Rachel Hardy, said Price has been appealing through the city’s public-access cable TV channel for volunteers but has only had one so far, a student on a break from school who has since left.

“I think it’s a great idea and I think it’s something that would help the kids that come through,” she said. “And we’re going to have to look at it real seriously if we don’t get more volunteers.”

The structure of the BSA, including annual $400 dues for each member, may be an obstacle to building a troop that is part of the national organization, she said. Still, the continuance of a group based on at least a similar concept is one that the court plans to keep pursuing.

“Mr. Allen and I have talked about giving it sort of a time frame and if he doesn’t get the sort of response he needs, he just can’t you know, you can’t do 25 kids and be productive and keep them going in activities. And if we don’t get that we’re going to sort of regroup and refocus.”

The BSA is for boys ages 11-17, and most of the boys who have joined the prospective troop have done so under an order from Price. Once a part of the program, though, some seem to have become enthusiastic enough about it to have influenced their younger brothers to want to join.

“You had some who had siblings who may have been told by the court to come who may have been 12, but all of a sudden you have, you know, a 9- or 10-year-old who wants to be involved,” Hardy said.

The older brothers will go back home and tell their younger brothers that they were in the group, “and the next meeting (the younger brothers) come,” Allen said. “And I can’t turn them out. I say, Come on in.’

“I think that part, the excitement of the kids, is ready.

“We get the help to come in and help us I was even thinking that, you know, maybe a troop that’s already out there, that some of their people there, just could help us, get us on off the ground, that would be great.”

In addition to volunteer leaders, the troop is seeking a meeting place outside the Youth Court complex, Hardy said. Now it meets in the building’s courtroom.

“They need to be away from here,” she said.

A prospective volunteer could begin by attending a meeting, Allen said.

“Some of them might be former Boy Scouts that have been in it,” he said of prospective volunteers. “They might have ideas of how we can do this, and do that.”

The group has also been seeking financial support for items like annual dues and uniforms, Allen said.

“We’ve been asking because I want to get them dressed out, you know, get the kids dressed out (in uniforms). Get some companies to donate some money.”

Not all the boys who have become a part of the group so far kept a perfect disciplinary record, Allen said when asked about the program’s results so far.

“Nothing major curfew violations, things like that,” he said of the offenses of which boys in the troop have been accused since the troop began meeting, around November.

Meetings are on the third Thursday of each month. Those interested in helping may call Allen at Youth Court at 630-8004.