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Decatur Eagle Scout discusses program with Kiwanians

By Patrice Stewart
pstewart@decaturdaily.com 340-2446

Decatur Kiwanians learned about Boy Scout activities Thursday from one whose Eagle Scout project continues to benefit Somerville Road Elementary School.

Nathan Fowler of Decatur talked about the accessible playground for which he helped raise $30,000 in 1997 while he attended Decatur High.

Then he and Scouting executives told the civic club about the organization in the 21st century.

Fowler, now a senior in mechanical engineering at The University of Alabama in Huntsville, said scouting continues to be a positive influence. He gave some facts from a study called "One Hundred Scouts."

Of every 100 boys who join Scout groups, 75 percent will get some education beyond high school, half will serve in the military (with high percentages in the service academies) and 17 will become Scout leaders later, he said.

Four will become Eagle Scouts, and one will use skills learned in scouting to save a life. "Only rarely will one ever appear before a juvenile court judge," he said.

Military value

The military values Scout training so much it immediately promotes enlistees who were Scouts one rank above others, Fowler said.

"Only one in four boys in America will become a Scout, but it is interesting that of the nation's leaders in business, religion and politics, three out of four were Scouts," he said.

He listed some famous Scouts: Steven Spielberg, Neil Armstrong, Walter Cronkite, the late President Gerald Ford, Henry Aaron, and Jim Morrison of The Doors.

"In my circle of friends, I'm known as the 'Boy Scout,' not because of my association with the organization," he said, but because he is equipped to handle any situation and to respond and lead in emergencies.

Paul Tatum of Decatur, Arrowhead District executive, told the service club that he supervises 59 units with 1,117 Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and coed teen Venturers in Morgan, Lawrence and Limestone counties.

About 200 boys from this district attended one of the five camps this summer, he said. A week-long day camp for Cubs at Point Mallard was one of the largest in the area.

Tatum expects fall signup to bring in more than the usual 300 new Scout members because they will be allowed to resume recruiting in Decatur City Schools.

He recognized several of Arrowhead's 27 Eagle Scouts who attended and said that group provided more than 300 hours of community service last year.

Hispanic community

Tim Cooper of Birmingham, who oversees Scout programs in 22 North Alabama counties from Montevallo up, said they are addressing the growing Hispanic community by using soccer, rather than hiking and camping, to attract them.

They want to involve more parents, he said, and for long-range planning use the corporate SWOT process of identifying Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.

They are trying to keep Scouting costs down and plan to work with a company on an outdoor training center to be used by both executives and Scouts.

"Scouting has changed a lot in the last few years, but the principles remain the same," he said.

"Kids have a lot of influences, such as cell phones and electronic games, but they still need to know how to be gentlemen, opening doors, pulling
out chairs and saying 'Yes, ma'am,' " said Cooper.

The Kiwanis Club of Decatur was recognized for its support of Boy Scouts.

Several members were cited for their efforts: Tim Lovelace, who is district Scout commissioner, or lead volunteer; Barrett Shelton, who headed up a fundraising drive that brought in $95,000; and several board members.

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