Urban Views Weekly Newsletter

Duty to God, Country, Others, and Self

Boys To Men

By: J. Chevont’e Alexander

Boy in Boy Scouts of America

The Boys Scouts of America is a worldwide brotherhood. The Heart of Virginia Council is the Greater Richmond’s Boys Scouts group that covers the Central Virginia area, including 24 counties and four cities. The city of Richmond is the Capital District. Since the beginning of the organization, the Scout program has been a fun and educational experience concerned with instilling values. Besides providing a positive place where boys can enjoy safe, wholesome activities, Boys Scouts focuses on building character, improving physical fitness, teaching practical skills, and developing a spirit of community service. Boys Scouts lays the foundation of developing boys into men.

Todd Martin, the Heart of Virginia’s Director of Field Services is an Eagle Scout (and always an Eagle Scout), comments that, “Boys Scouts provides a sense of identity and purpose for the child”.

Through Boys Scouts young men are able to discover the limitless possibilities of what they can do in life. The organization shows them how to respect themselves and their community — a formula of how to live your life. Boys Scouts introduces kids to a sense of community, and teaches them that they are a vital part of what makes up a community.

“Boys Scouts shows them that they are a part of something greater than themselves, and that we are all in this together.” continues Martin.

Boy Scout at Shooting Range

Why Scouting?

For almost 100 years, Scouting programs have instilled in youth the values found in the Scout Oath and Scout Law. Today, these values are just as relevant in helping youth grow to their full potential as they were in 1910. Scouting helps youth develop academic skills, self-confidence, ethics, leadership skills, and citizenship skills that influence their adult lives.

The Boy Scouts of America provides youth with programs and activities that allow them to :

  • Try new things.
  • Provide service to others.
  • Build self-confidence.
  • Reinforce ethical standards.

“Its more than just camping.” chuckles Martin.

While various activities and youth groups teach basic skills and promote teamwork, Scouting goes beyond that and encourages youth to achieve a deeper appreciation for service to others in their community.  Scouting provides youth with a sense that they are important as individuals. It is communicated to them that those in the Scouting family care about what happens to them, regardless of whether a game is won or lost.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Scouting promotes activities that lead to personal responsibility and high self-esteem. As a result, when hard decisions have to be made, peer pressure can be resisted and the right choices can be made.

Scouting changes lives

Through this character building and leadership development program youth build a positive sense of self and life direction.  Positive adult mentors guide boys through the program, instill a sense of community pride and set them on a path to turn into responsible men.  Scouting is still going strong.  The Heart of Virginia Council serves 13,000 youth in central Virginia through the hard work and dedication of over 4,000 adult volunteers.  It is one of the greatest grass roots success stories.  Supported by a small staff, volunteers use the Scout program to instill values and purpose in our youth.

100th anniversary of the Eagle Scout Award

What’s Scouting’s greatest moment? For many Scouts, it’s the Eagle Scout court of honor.

When a boy named Arthur Eldred became the first Eagle Scout in August of 1912 in New York, it came as a surprise to Boy Scouts of America officials.  Leaders of the BSA were focused on building the organization’s reputation and membership. They thought it would be years before a Scout earned the award. A century later, Scouting is ready to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Eagle Scout Award.

There was a recent study done by Baylor University to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Eagle Scouts. The study showed that Boys Scouts are more involved in their community as they get older than the general population. From a young age, Boys Scouts teaches community service, how to survive outside, and through personal experience start to develop the child into an individual and contributing member to society.


Scoutreach is the Boys Scouts of America urban emphasis program. This initiative is focused in special areas around the area (low income areas).  The Heart of Virginia Council employs twelve part time program aides who run Scouting programs in difficult to serve areas with Richmond, Petersburg and Chesterfield. The council aims to develop relationships with local civic and religious organizations to transition Scoutreach programs to self-sufficiency within their neighborhoods. The Boys Scouts of America know the importance of having leadership present in these areas to help develop a sense of volunteerism. There are close to 400 youth participating in these programs.

Troop 491:  Adventures of the Muddy Lions

Troop 491: The Adventures of the Muddy Lions is a movie about a young man growing up in a difficult environment and how Scouting plays an influence on him. The movie has completed principle photography and is now entering the post production phase. The filming mainly took place in and around Richmond, Virginia for 15 days.  With over 40 speaking parts (majority kids under 17) and numerous locations (Powhatan State Prison, Pocahontas State Park, Pine Camp, Richmond High School, Virginia Zoo, Jackson Ward, Cary Street, just to name a few) this film has been a monumental journey. It would not have been a success without the support of the community.

The movie producers thank the Heart of Virginia Council, the Boy Scouts of America and the community for their assistance and allowing them to tell this great story which utilizes many of the Scouts themes.

“I look back on my years of Scouting with fondness and I’m humbled to be able to give these lessons to today’s youth.” comments Praheme, a Richmond native who was enrolled in Scouts with Providence Park Baptist Church’s Troop 491 from  1989-1999 (Tiger cub to 2nd class).

Boy Scouts jumping into lake

Scouting for Food

Scouting for Food is an annual food drive in Richmond. This program is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year. All food is dedicated to the Central VA Food Bank, now known as FeedMore. Grocery bags are delivered to residents throughout the Richmond area to fill with food, and then the Boys Scouts will come back around to collect the filled bags.

Three hundred thousand pounds of food is collected, and almost 8000 people donate each year. This year, bags will be dropped off to residents on October 27, and food will be picked up no later than November 23. If a grocery bag is not delivered  to your home, please take all donated food items to any of the Martin’s Food Stores in the area.

Boys Scouts of America Needs Your Help

In September, the Boys Scouts will be opening every elementary school to invite families to join, A schedule will be posted soon at http://hovc.org/join/. September is the best time to join as school starts back up again.  Find a Cub Scout Pack (boys in grades 1-5), Boy Scout Troop (boys ages 11-17) or Venture Crew (co-ed for ages 14-20) at www.BeAScout.org.

Boys Scouts of America are also scouting alumni to reconnect and get involved at whatever level.  Volunteers can reengage through this website:  http://www.scouting.org/Alumni/Re-Engage/VolunteerOpportunities.aspx  or call 804-355-4306 to learn more about local opportunities and needs.

Invite a Scout leader to speak about scouting at their civic club or religious group.

Whether you were in Scouting as a youth or not, you can help by volunteering with a Troop, an activity or just being an ambassador of Scouting.

For more information, contact Todd Martin at 804-355-4306.  If you were a Scout, we want you back.  Your Scout skills are needed again to move Scouting forward in the Richmond-Petersburg area. The Heart of Virginia Council grants charters to local faith groups to “own and operate” a Scout Troop.  Use Scouting as part of your youth serving mission to reach out in your community. The cost is minimal but the benefits are priceless.

Lessons Learned

“Scouting is one the greatest organizations a man can devote his time and resources to. The return on the investment is realized right before your eyes. As a scout leader you are rewarded by experiencing firsthand the transformation from boys to young men. Serving as an assistant and as scoutmaster was one of the most exhilarating and rewarding experiences in my adult life. Working in scouting is an investment in our youth that pays dividends that last a lifetime for the boys and the leaders.”

James L. Watkins

Chairman, The Heart of Virginia Capital District
Deputy Executive Director
Venture Richmond, Inc.

4 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. Many thanks for the author, J. Chevont’e Alexander, to Todd Martin, Dir. of Field Servivce for the Boy Scouts, and to Jim Watkins, our Chairman for the Capital District. You have expressed well the lifelong impact that Scouting will have on all boys and young men that join this incredible organization! Please keep up the good work, and thank your for featuring the Boy Scouts and their role in our communities.

  2. John – thank you for your kind words. The Boy Scouts are one of our countries assets.

  3. Thanks John!

  4. Thanks for the great coverage. Scouting is a great program and a boost such as your article is aways appreciated.

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