The event combined the 100th Anniversary celebration of the Boy Scouts of America with the Eagle Scouts coming together.
“This is the 100th anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America,” Matt Taylor Operations Director at Camp Oyo said. “So this is just the local celebration that we are having here, and in conjunction with that we just wanted to have an open house to show off Camp Oyo, and what the Boy Scout camp here is about. So it’s a combined event of the two different activities.”
Hosting the “Gathering of Eagles” was Portsmouth Attorney Franklin D. Gerlach.
“These are the ones who have attained the highest rating that there is through the Boy Scouts. And they are from all over the area. We have some very fresh Eagle Scouts who were just taken into it, and what we are trying to do is to encourage the Eagles to give back to Scouting in that they got the benefits of Scouting, and the leadership and the skills that they were able to develop,” Gerlach said. “And we’re hopeful that they will be able to give back to the community, as well as give back to Scouting and fill some of the leadership roles.”
Gerlach said he received his Eagle badge in 1950.
Cole Keller, Tecumseh District Commissioner, said he had a specific job in mind as he headed for the gathering.
“The Commissioner Service is in charge of service to the District,” Keller said. “We try to help each unit be the best unit it can be. And I’m going to be at the ‘Gathering of Eagles’ today to help recruit Eagle Scouts, because who better to help serve the community than Eagle Scouts, and once an Eagle, always an Eagle. So I’m going to try to get some of these old time Eagle Scouts to come in and help me help serve the Tecumseh District a little better.”
Dr. George White remembers that becoming an Eagle Scout was something he will never forget.
“It was one of the major thrills of my lifetime,” White said. “Because it’s hard to accomplish. It takes a lot of work. And then you have a nice court of honor. And I was awarded the Eagle in church, and it was quite a ceremony. So it was a very very proud moment.”
White says becoming an Eagle Scout is responsible for taking him out of the coal fields of West Virginia into a world he probably would not have seen otherwise.
“Scouting has been dear to me all my life,” White said. “It made a total difference in my profession and in my desire to learn. The experience of the National Jamboree, Valley Forge 1957, was unreal. Then I followed with the World Jamboree in England for several days.”
White chuckled as he talked about the last leg of his European journey.
“I spent my last four dollars in Paris for a ticket to the Folies Bergere. I left there totally broke.”
White said, joking aside, the trip showed him what a big world was outside of Boone County, West Virginia.
“So I came back home and I certainly studied a lot more,” White said.
As the Eagle Scouts gathered under a tent, Taylor watched from outside.
“What they have tried to do is contact all Eagle Scouts from the area through the years. So they are here just for a reception,” Taylor said. “There will be some cake and punch and coffee, and then they will all receive a commemorative patch, that says, ‘Reunion of Eagles — Camp Oyo 2010.’”
Cole Keller said Scouting is something that should be experienced for a lifetime.
“When a boy starts Scouting, our mindset now is from Tiger Cub to Eagle Scout. We don’t want you to stop. We want you to go all the way through the whole program,” Keller said. “The three aims of Scouting are character development, citizenship training, and physical and mental fitness. So if you do those three things, you learn those in Scouting; the other thing you do as a Scout is you learn how to be a leader. You learn to lead by leading. So the Scouting program is designed to make a better citizen; make you a better member of your community, of your country, and also to be a leader of that country. That’s what Boy Scouting does.”
Frank Lewis may be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 232 or firstname.lastname@example.org