"On my honor, I will do my best, to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout law."
In the 100 years that Boy Scouts of America has served our country, more than 104 million boys have taken that oath. Today, Gwinnett County benefits from the works of more than 10,000 scouts along with thousands of scout leaders.
Participants cross generational lines from 6-year-old Tiger Cub Scouts like Wesley Hilyard, whose dad Mike Hilyard leads Den 13 in Pack 564, to senior citizens who stayed involved even after their own sons were grown.
One longtime leader is Tom Holliman, District Chairman of the Sweetwater District of the Northeast Georgia Council.
"I believe in the program. Scouting is one of the last faith-based organizations in the country and what it can do for our youth is amazing," the Grayson resident said.
Council Commissioner Carter Wood said, "We want to raise a whole generation who make decisions the rest of their lives founded on the Scout Law. Scouting is a game with purpose: character development, citizenship and leadership. It pays off. One fourth of all boys will come to scouting at least for a little while, but of people who rise to the top, three-fourths have been scouts."
Former Scouts who've risen to the top in Gwinnett include Superior Judge Warren Davis, County Commissioner Charles Bannister, State Representative Clay Cox and Gwinnett Daily Post Publisher J.K. Murphy. Judges Robert Mitchum and William Brogden both claim the title of Eagle Scout.
Speaking of Eagles, Hilyard said, "The Sweetwater District has turned out more Eagle Scouts than any place in the world."
And on that note I would like to congratulate Colin Richard Scanian of St. Monica's Catholic Church, Zan McKay Draney of Johns Creek Latter Day Saints and Andrew Franklin Weaver of Norcross Presbyterian Church who just last month became the newest Eagles in the county.
Throughout the year all of Gwinnett's Boy Scouts will be celebrating their big 100. One big project is the Generations Connection, through which Scouts connect with older relatives who have been scouts and record their scouting history together. Snellville mayor Jerry Oberholtzer is putting a little different twist on the project. Oberholtzer, a former scout whose sons are both Eagles, will be overseeing the planting of a Centennial Forest on Saturday morning.
"We're reintroducing elm trees that were blighted in the '30s," volunteer Phil Davis said. "These are trees their grandparents lost, but these Scouts can be proud to return with their grandchildren someday and say that they planted these trees to continue on for generations."
For those who believe in the scouting program but don't have time to get involved, Friends of Scouting offers opportunities to help the boys do their best. Knights of Columbus and Lilburn Business Association are already on board, but there's room for the whole community! For more information call Denise Dreyer at 770-962-2105 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Susan Larson is a Lilburn resident. E-mail her at email@example.com.