Sunday, February 17, 2019

Van Horn honored as troop's 19th Eagle Scout

Jacob Van HornOn Saturday, Jan. 12, Troop 50 bestowed the Boy Scouts of America’s highest rank during a ceremony honoring new Eagle Scout Jacob Van Horn. He is the son of Eric and Rebecca Van Horn, currently residents of Opelika. Jacob is the troop’s 19th Eagle Scout since its founding in 2012.

Jacob’s ceremony, held at Auburn United Methodist Church, included family and friends in addition to his fellow Scouts and leaders. Assistant Senior Patrol Leader Hunter welcomed everyone present and led the opening flag ceremony. Assistant Scoutmaster Andrew Baird, Junior Assistant Scoutmaster Liam, Lead Troop Guide Joe, and Troop Quartermaster Everett participated in a candle-lighting narrative that reminded everyone in attendance of the meaning behind the colors of the American flag — followed by an opening prayer from family friend Paxton Brittle, and welcomes from Scoutmaster Andrew Baird and Chartered Organization Representative Michael Tullier.

Liam, Joe and Everett (left to right) light candles signifying the principles behind the colors of the American flag, which are also found in Eagle Scout badge.
Liam, Joe and Everett (left to right) light candles signifying the principles behind the colors of the American flag, which are also found in Eagle Scout badge.

An honor guard of Troop 50 Scouts led Jacob to the stage, where Troop Committee Chair Rob Stanford led him in the reaffirmation of the principles of the Scout Oath. He then reminded Jacob of the obligations of being an Eagle Scout — namely, living with honor, loyalty, courage, service and vision.

Rebecca Van Horn pins Jacob with his Eagle Scout medal.

Scoutmaster Baird administers the Eagle Scout Charge to Jacob
Scoutmaster Baird administers the Eagle Scout Charge to Jacob
Following this, Scoutmaster Baird administered the “Eagle Scout Charge,” officially marking Jacob as an Eagle Scout. Jacob’s mother, Rebecca, pinned his Eagle Scout medal on his uniform, and his father, Eric, presented him with an Eagle Scout neckerchief. In turn, Jacob presented his parents with lapel pins noting their new status as Eagle Scout parents. Along with receiving a framed Eagle Scout certificate from Mr. Baird, Jacob received from Mr. Tullier a certificate of membership in the National Eagle Scout Association (NESA) — a gift from the troop.

Jacob closed the ceremony with some personal word of thanks, and special presentation of Eagle Scout mentor pins to those who played a special role in his progress toward earning Scouting’s highest rank. Those receiving mentor pins included Mr. Baird, Mr. Stanford, Andrea Holliday, Dan Strickland, Paxton Brittle, Kal Busman and Wes Fanning.

Jacob is presented the James J. Baird Jr. Honor Scout Award at the troop's June 2018 court of honor.
Jacob is presented the James J. Baird Jr. Honor Scout Award at the troop's
June 2018 court of honor.
Originally a member of Troop 158 in Tulahoma, Tennessee, Jacob joined Troop 50 in September 2016 after his family relocated to the Lee County area. During his tenure in Troop 50, he served as patrol leader, lead troop guide, senior patrol leader, junior assistant scoutmaster, and currently serves as an assistant scoutmaster. Through his Scouting participation, he earned 22 merit badges and was named one of co-recipients of the troop's 2018 James J. Baird Jr. Honor Scout Award . He was also elected for membership in the Order of the Arrow, Scouting’s national honor society, and now serves as the Chattahoochee Lodge’s camping promotions chairman.

Jacob and volunteers work on his Eagle Scout project
Fellow Troop 50 Scouts assist Jacob with the final
touches on his Eagle Scout project at the troop's
annual planning retreat at Pioneer Park on April 20.
For his Eagle Scout leadership service project, Jacob planned and led volunteers to reconstruct two new arbors in the garden area of Loachapoka’s Pioneer Park. Family, friends, and fellow Scouts and leaders logged more than 259 service hours planning and constructing the project. The new arbors, as well as new curb Jacob and volunteers replaced adjacent to the arbors enhance the experience and safety for visitors to the park’s garden.

After completing the Eagle Scout rank requirements, which included planning and executing his service project, Jacob appeared before the Saugahatchee District’s Eagle Scout Board on Oct. 16, 2018. He is among the three Troop 50 Scouts to earn the Eagle Scout rank during 2018.

Outside Scouting, Jacob volunteers by building sets and costumes for Auburn Area Community Theater productions. He plans to attend Auburn University this fall, where he will major in electrical engineering.

Jacob and his extended family at the conclusion of his Eagle Scout Court of Honor
Jacob and his extended family at the conclusion of his Eagle Scout Court of Honor

Eagle Scout badge
Since the first Eagle Scout was awarded in 1912, nearly 2.5 million Boy Scouts have completed the Eagle Scout’s performance-based rank requirements, which currently include serving in progressive leadership positions, demonstrating outdoor and Scouting skill competencies, earning at least 21 merit badges, and planning and executing a seminal Eagle Scout leadership service project. During 2017 alone, 55,494 Boy Scouts earned Scouting’s highest rank.

For more photos from Jacob’s Eagle Scout ceremony, visit the troop’s online photo album.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Journey to Excellence

       For the sixth straight year (which is every full year of the troop's existence) Troop 50 has achieved gold status in the BSA assessment process known as Journey to Excellence. The program is a self-evaluation which allows units, districts, and councils to measure their strengths with a goal of continual improvement. The unit scorecard contains eleven objectives in the fields of Planning and Budget, Membership, Program, and Volunteer Leadership; and rates various metrics at bronze, silver, and gold levels.

       In 2018, Troop 50 met ten out of eleven objectives. We received gold scores in recruitment (due to a 19.2 percent growth for the year), retention (91.7 percent of the scouts remained in the troop at
year's end), advancement (71 percent of our scouts advanced by at least one rank), and leadership & family engagement (due to our large number of registered leaders and parental involvement). We also scored in the silver range for our camping program, consistent use of the patrol method, and our Webelos to Scout transition plans. We received a total score of 1250 points to achieve gold status, which required us to meet at least eight objectives with a collective total of 1000 points.

       The troop has much to be proud of in 2018. Our scouts collectively earned ninety-nine merit badges and had thirty-five rank advancements. This included three new Eagle Scouts and six Eagle Palms. In fact, we now have four Eagle Scouts who have each earned Bronze, Gold, and Silver Palms. Scouts and adult leaders together spent 408 nights of camping, hiked 154 miles, and gave 971 hours of service to the community. These numbers not only reflect on the commitment by the scouts to the program but also the high level of support that we receive from adult volunteers, parents, our charter partners at the Auburn Rotary Club, and the members of the First Presbyterian Church and Auburn United Methodist Church. This meaningful support gives us what we need to meet the troop's mission to GATHER young men into a quality scouting program, GROW them into servant leaders, and GO into the community in service and fellowship.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

A Troop 50-style Christmas

Troop 50 Scouts with many of the toys donated through the troop's Toys for Tots drive.

Luke opens the court of honor as
master of ceremonies
On Sunday, Dec. 16, Troop 50 Scouts, leaders and families gathered for the troop's final event of 2018 — its annual December court of honor and Christmas party. It also included the swearing-in of new youth leaders elected and appointed at the troop’s meeting on Monday, Dec. 10.

To complete one of the requirements for Communications Merit Badge, Luke opened the court of honor and served as its master of ceremonies. Following the opening flag presentation, Scoutmaster Andrew Baird offered parents a brief overview of various high-adventure opportunities the troop was considering for future summer outings. These options include Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, Northern Tier High-Adventure Base in Northern Minnesota/Southern Canada, Florida Sea Base in the Florida Keys, and The Summit Bechtel Scout Reserve in West Virginia.

Whit receives Architecture Merit Badge from Senior Patrol Leader Joe (left)
and Assistant Senior Patrol Leader Jason (center)

Following a brief break so Scouts and families could enjoy a buffet of sweet and salty treats, the ceremony resumed with the presentation of ranks, ranging from Tenderfoot to First Class, to four Scouts. Additionally, the court of honor included the presentation of 15 merit badges — including Architecture Merit Badge, which three Scouts earned as part of the troop’s Merit Badge Day held the previous weekend.

Scoutmaster Baird administers the troop's oath of office for elected and appointed youth leaders.

During the court of honor, youth leaders elected and appointed at the troop’s Dec. 10 meeting were installed. They include:
  • Senior Patrol Leader: Camp
  • Assistant Senior Patrol Leader: Hunter
  • Lead Troop Guide: Joe
  • Lead Instructor and Bugler: Jason
  • Troop Scribe: Trey
  • Troop Chaplain’s Aide: Rhett
  • Instructors: Michael V. and Luke
  • Junior Assistant Scoutmasters: Louie Harris, Aiden Lytle, Liam Schallock, Nicholas Zuk and Creighton Williams
  • Pop Tart Turtles Patrol: Boone (patrol leader), Luke (assistant patrol leader) and James (quartermaster)
  • Radioactive Snowmen Patrol: Miles (patrol leader), Tyson (assistant patrol leader) and Will (quartermaster)

Joe and Scoutmaster Baird
The ceremony was the final troop event under the leadership of outgoing Senior Patrol Leader Joe. To mark his six-month tenure, Scoutmaster Baird presented Joe with the traditional handmade neckerchief slide that has come to distinguish Scouts serving in the troop’s top youth leadership position.

At the conclusion of the official court of honor program, Scouts and a few leaders set aside formalities (and, some might say at times, civility) for the troop’s annual “Dirty Santa” gift exchange. As with past year’s gift-exchanges, highly coveted and exchanged presents included camping gadgets like flashlights and multi-function tools, as well as a few technology items like Bluetooth speakers.

Connor celebrates opening one of the frequently "stolen" pocket knives as part of the troop's "Dirty Santa" game.

The court of honor also included the troop’s annual holiday service project — a Toys for Tots drive to support the efforts of the City of Auburn's Public Safety Department. Gifts donated by Troop 50 families included bicycles, sports gear, board games, books and toddler toys. Typically, after all the court of honor activities are over, Scouts and leaders would walk the donations to the main City of Auburn fire station; however, because the station is under construction, the toys were later delivered to the city’s Department of Public Safety office.

The troop’s Patrol Leaders Council will meet on Monday, Jan. 7, and the troop will resume its regular Monday evening meetings on Monday, Jan. 14.

For more photos from the court of honor, visit the troop’s online photo album.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Badges and bowling

While the rainy, cold weather outside on Saturday, Dec. 8 was frightful, the inside of Auburn United Methodist Church, where Troop 50 Scouts gathered for the annual Merit Badge Day, was delightful. More than half of the troop’s Scouts attended the event to add one more badge to their merit badge sashes – either one of two Eagle-required badges, Citizenship in the Nation or Cooking, or Architecture Merit Badge.

Assistant Scoutmaster Christian Dagg, an associate professor in Auburn University’s College of Architecture, Design and Construction, and head of its School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture, counseled Scouts on Architecture Merit Badge. In addition to familiarizing Scouts with the basics of and careers in the architecture field, it marries Scouting’s emphasis on being conservation-minded with concepts like sustainable architecture and the use of renewable and recycled materials in the build environment.

Assistant Scoutmaster JP Pendleton taught Citizenship in the Nation Merit Badge. Requirements help Scouts understand the principles of U.S. citizenship, including one’s rights under the Constitution, Bill of Rights and other subsequent constitutional amendments. It includes a focus on many of the historic milestones behind the founding of our country, as well as how constitutional checks and balances affect how the federal government operates today.

Finally, Chartered Organization Representative Michael Tullier counseled Scouts on Cooking Merit Badge. Classroom instruction includes teaching Scouts about the need for safe food-handling techniques, how to avoid foodborne illnesses, and how to prevent and treat injuries that may occur as part of cooking. The merit badge also helps Scouts incorporate good nutrition standards into their meal planning, and how to read food-packaging labels. Scouts will complete the merit badge requirements as they plan, shop for and cook meals at upcoming campouts, as well as doing the same for meals they plan and cook for their families.

Following the merit badge classes, many of the Scouts participated in a troop outing to go bowling. As the gutters outside continued to collect water from the day’s ongoing rain, the gutters inside the bowling alley were just as busy collecting bowling balls rolled by our budding Scout bowlers.

For more pictures from the troop’s Merit Badge Day, visit the troop’s online photo album.