On March 13, at Saint John’s Methodist Church in Seaford, Boy Scout Troop 281 took top honors as Troop of the Year at the Boy Scouts of America Annual Sussex District Recognition Brunch. Scoutmaster Tom Roth was presented the award by District Boy Scout of America Committee Chairman by Steve Small.
There are 15 troops in the Sussex District, all of whom are keen to receive the award each year. Troops within the district are considered for the award based on how they rank in various facets of scouting, in accordance with Boy Scouts of America (BSA) standards.
“Basically there is a setup,” explained Lt. Cmdr. Wayne Stacey. “There are so many goals that each scouting unit has to acquire, such as community service hours, which is a big thing. Also, trained adult leadership, participation and a strong outdoor program — camping, hiking, stuff like that. The big thing is community service and activities.”
Stacey, who works for the U.S. Coast Guard, is an Eagle Scout, as are his three boys, who were all in Troop 281. He had previously been scoutmaster and continues to work with the troop.
“Since the early ’90s, we have been troop of the year twice. And it doesn’t come every year. It’s a very coveted award to receive,” Stacey noted.
The troop, which has more than 40 boys, participates in community service through local church food pantries and busing tables at various Lions Club dinners, as well as handling out free water at the Bethany Beach 4th of July Parade, which they have been doing every year since 1992.
For more than 30 years, Troop 281 has had a working relationship with the Lord Baltimore Lions Club, through sponsorship and service.
“They support the Lions by helping us with some of our activities – mainly busing tables for our dinners,” explained Karl Gude.
Gude has been active with BSA for 17 years and currently serves as the troop’s charter representative. He is also currently the vice-district governor for the Delaware Lions Club, where he has been a member for more than 18 years.
“The Lions support the Boy Scouts financially,” Gude said. “Being the charter rep, I have to make sure they have a place to meet, that their leaders are safe and that the troop is running smoothly and for the good of the boys.”
Gude presented the Troop of the Year award to Troop 281 at their annual Court of Honor on March 25, along with a service award.
“When I presented it to them, I told them how proud the Lions Club was of them,” Gude noted. “The other award they got at the same time was an award for the most service hours per scout in the Sussex District. And that was really very impressive and that goes hand in hand with our motto as Lions, that we serve. So that was a really a neat award to present to them because it shows that these are a great group of boys. They’re out there in the community helping and serving. Personally, that one was pretty neat for me, to be able to present it to them.”
Boys within the troop received the service award for the work they do with the troop but also for work they do outside of scouting.
“Some of them work at a food pantry. Some of them do service work through school, honor society, Leo Clubs, through school, church and community service,” explained Gude. “When I presented it, I told them that they need to look at the plaque and the names of the boys that have made Eagle, and that I hope all of them make Eagle, and that we’re here to support them, and that we’re very proud of what they do.”
Eagle Scout is the highest rank within BSA, attained by earning a minimum of 21 merit badges, as well as completing a service project before the scout’s 18th birthday. The project, which must be designed by the scout and approved by troop officials, must show leadership and organization skills, and ultimately benefit his community.
“The troop has been very strong in producing Eagles Scouts over the last decade. It has produced many Eagle Scouts, averaging about one a year,” continued Stacey. “If it weren’t for the support of the Lord Baltimore Lions Club, the troop would not enjoy the success that it now has today. That’s a fact.”