Kilgore’s Boy Scout Troop 252 has been growing over the past few years, thanks in part to efforts by Scoutmaster Mitchell Hancock and his wife Aimee.
Hancock gave a presentation to Kilgore Rotary Club, which sponsors the troop, on Wednesday and shared information about the troop’s growth later in the week.
“I’ve had a lot of help,” said Hancock, owner of Kilgore Lawn & Landscape, on Friday.
He moved to Kilgore in 2013 and took over as Scoutmaster the following year.
“That was one of the problems they had before I came. They were short-staffed as far as adults. My wife has done a lot as far as organization and keeping track of advancement and I’ve had the support of the troop committee.”
Hancock, an Eagle Scout, said Rotarian and longtime Scout leader Keith Hooks was one such committee member supporting the troop’s growth.
The troop has grown from just four members to 21. This growth in itself makes the troop more engaging and successful, according to Hancock.
“If some of the boys don’t show up on a Tuesday night, there’s still enough of them there to make it a fun time.”
A critical part of growing the troop’s membership numbers has been keeping the Scouts involved in a variety of exciting activities at their regular Tuesday night meetings.
“We try to have very good programs,” Hancock said.
“The Scouts plan what we do. We have a meeting every month on a Monday night and they plan all the Tuesday nights of the month and what we’re going to.”
The Scouts plan activities for the meetings, games and upcoming campouts.
The activities combine Scouting skills with interesting outings.
For example, Hancock said last Tuesday’s meeting saw the troop leaving their Scout Hut in Kilgore City Park for an archery lesson and practice at a local resident’s home.
Whether they stay at the Scout Hut or venture elsewhere, the Scouts get top-notch training on the skills they must learn to advance in the organization.
“I reach out to different professionals in the area to teach different merit badges. I try to find the most qualified professionals. They (the Scouts) really have received exceptional training on the merit badges from people who have been in these careers for most of their lives.”
The Scouts have plenty of activities in store for the near future.
After a hiking trek last weekend, they will embark on a nautical adventure in September.
The “You Make It, You Sail It” event at Lake O’ The Pines calls on Scouts to use kits to construct their own sailboats, which they will then enter into a race at the lake. The event, sponsored by Longview Yacht Club, is open to Scouts and the general public and is a fundraiser for Windridge Therapeutic Equestrian Center of East Texas.
The troop has made the aquatic competition an annual event, competing for the last five years.
October will see the Scouts heading to a Camporee, an event which gathers Scout troops from across East Texas for a two-day camping event which includes games and competitions and concludes with an awards campfire ceremony.
In November, Troop 252 will host “Scouting for Food”, an annual food drive in which the Scouts distribute bags in the local area to fill with food for donation to Helping Hands of Kilgore, the local food pantry.
The troop will team up with Cub Scout Pack 251 for the event.
Parents or boys interested in joining Troop 252 are welcome to visit the Scout Hut on Kay Street at Kilgore City Park on Tuesday from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
They can get more information and sign up at a meeting. Also, those interested can email Hancock at email@example.com