Ritch said that he had been a Cub Scout “on and off for about a year,” when he was younger. “We moved around a lot,” he said.
After graduating from the University of Alabama with a degree in political science, Ritch said he wanted “to find a job in public service. I had a neighbor in Rome, Ga., who was an executive in northwest Georgia, and he said he really enjoyed it, said it was a good profession. He said it would be a chance to impact the community, and he kind of steered me that way. I wanted to stay in Alabama, so I started interviewing around here.”
Scouting in northern Alabama is “still going strong, but we are looking to grow some this year also,” he said. “We have troops doing a lot of service projects, including building a handicapped accessible playground in Munford, which is one of the biggest ones we’ve got going right now.”
This particular project is generally the work of Troop 4132 out of Bethel Methodist Church and is particularly the Eagle Scout project of Jacob Smith.
“He’s one of five in that troop going for their Eagle Scout,” Ritch said. “They all started out together in Cub Scouts, and for a while it was just the five of them. But the unit has grown up a lot around them.”
The Troop will be working with the Talladega County Board of Education on this particular project.
This Troop is also preparing for the Fall Camporee, which will be held had the TOP Trails Park and feature a search and rescue theme. “This is open to any boy that wants to participate,” Ritch said. “If they just come out, we will get them registered and in a Troop somewhere.”
Fall is the heaviest recruiting season for Cub Scouts. “We just had 125 kids for our fishing rodeo,” he said, and there are more events coming up later in the month. “Starting next Saturday, we’ll have family camping, with bb guns and bows and arrows, a haunted hay ride and other events.”
The Cub Scout day camp this summer will involve three larger locations throughout the area, including the Museum of Natural History in Anniston and at least two other locations to be announced. This represents a change from last summer, when day camp was at the Bemiston Recreation Center exclusively.
The city of Talladega has been very helpful, Ritch said, noting that last year’s Camporee took place at the Municipal Sports Complex.
A lot of recruiting, if not most, is done through “friends just telling friends what a good time they’re having,” Ritch said. “But we do also go to the schools, tell them about the opportunities to camp, fish, swim, shoot bb guns. But we’re trying to spread the word outside the schools, too.”
In the city of Talladega, Trinity Methodist Church serves as a home base, he added.
“Some people think they can’t do scouting when they’ve got sports practice, but when the season ends, we’ll still be going year round.”
The Boy Scout camp that will be going on at the same time will include activities such as badge earning, swimming and firing rifles and shotguns.
“We get the kids hooked at first with the camping and bb guns and fishing, but then they also learn things like citizenship and leadership,” he said. “You can impact each kid, and then they turn around and impact their community. You make them not just a part of that community, but an active participant. I’ve now seen Boy Scouts just starting out that are working to achieve their Eagle Scout now. You see them working forward toward their goals, and watch them learn over time. Only 2 percent of Scouts get to the Eagle Scout. It’s a lofty goal, but it’s exciting to see. And it’s not just good for the kids, either. Adults get a lot out of it, too. Some are tentative about joining at first, but they benefit too. It’s a great organization to spend some time with children, to learn new activities with them.”
Contact Chris Norwood at email@example.com.