Photo by Corinne Nicholson
LAWRENCEVILLE -- Thousands of Boy Scouts gathered at the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds on Saturday for a celebration of scouting traditions.
The Northeast Georgia Council ScoutBlast included exhibits, a pinewood derby race and Law Enforcement and Fire Explorer competitions.
Kurt Foster, a Tiger Cub pack leader, said ScoutBlast was a good opportunity for younger Boy Scouts to learn about the different troops they can join.
"It's an opportunity to meet other troops in the area and get an opportunity to find out what they want to do going forward," Foster said.
Lilburn resident Justin Speer, a Webelo, said ScoutBlast was "really fun."
"I got to teach other Scouts how to play marbles," he said.
At a parking lot at the Fairgrounds, Explorer groups showed off the skills they have been learning in a competition. Exploring is Learning for Life's career education program for young men and women who are 14 or 15 through 20 years old. Exploring programs are based on five areas of emphasis: career opportunities, life skills, citizenship, character education and leadership experience.
The Gwinnett County Fire Explorers competed against groups from Henry, Hall and DeKalb counties, as well as Asheville, N.C., and Sharpsville, Tenn.
"This is our future," Gwinnett County Fire Department spokesman Capt. Thomas Rutledge said of the Fire Explorers. "In this audience that you see today is future fire chiefs, future battalion chiefs, and future city and county leaders."
Fire Explorer cadet Josh Seabolt said he joined the program because he wants to be a firefighter.
"I have a heart to help people. ... I feel it in my heart. I know this is the job for me," he said, adding that the Explorers program will better prepare candidates for fire service. "Doing this will prepare us for what we're really going to face. ... It will either make you, or it will break you."
Berkmar High School student Sarah Stalsworth, a cadet, said she's wanted to be a firefighter ever since she first saw a fire truck. Saturday's competition -- which included bucket brigade, quick dress, rope tying and combat challenge events -- was intense, she said.
"This is what we've been training for up to this day," she said. "We're giving it all we got."