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Chandler discusses scouting at Rotary Club meeting

LANETT — District Executive Steven Chandler told West Point Rotary Club members last Thursday that the local council of Boy Scouts of America is continuing to defy national trends. The Chattahoochee Council includes multiple counties along both sides of the river and has a current membership of more than 53,000 youth.

“We’ve had 14 percent growth over the previous year,” he said. “We are one of only four councils in the U.S. with consecutive growth over the past four years. It’s been phenomenal. We’ve had 12 percent growth over the past four years. The national average is four percent.”

The George H. Lanier District currently has more than 580 youth who are active.

Local counties in the Chattahoochee Council are Lee and Chambers counties in Alabama and Troup, Harris, Muscogee, Heard, Meriwether, and Talbot counties in Georgia.

Chandler said that Scouting has changed with changing times. Explorers, for example is co-ed. It’s been that way for four decades now and is geared toward those in the 14-21 year-old group who are career oriented. Venturing is for those in the 14-21 group who are into high adventure.

“It’s what Exploring was 40 years ago,” Chandler said.

Chandler said that Scouting’s mission hasn’t changed. “It’s to prepare young people to make moral and ethical decisions throughout their lives,” he said.

The Council has three camping sites, all of which are relatively close to the Valley. Camp Pine Mountain is in Harris County just outside West Point. The other two camps – Camp Gallant and Camp Frank G. Lumpkin – are on West Point Lake in Troup County. Camp Gallant is for those who are into roughing it; nearby Camp Lumpkin has some of the nicer facilities of any Scout camp in the Southeastern U.S.

“It has gotten $650,000 in renovations,” Chandler said. “We have some new water front programs there. We can do week-long trips on West Point Lake.”

Chandler disputed some recent reports that Boy Scouting is going co-ed.

“That’s not true,” he said. “Exploring and Venturing are both co-ed for those in the 14-21 age group. There are separate but equal programs for boys and girls.”

Chandler said there would be no sharing of scout huts on camp outs.

A push toward admitting girls into Boy Scout units is likely driven by young adults who are having problems taking a son to a Boy Scout unit while a daughter has to go across town where the Girl Scouts are meeting. It would be easier on them to take both of them to one location.

Cub Scout units have girls participating with them but they don’t have Cub uniforms.

Venturing is very popular with girls.

“They outnumber the boys 3 to 1,” Chandler said.

There’s another program known as Scout Reach.

“It’s for anyone who might not otherwise be in Scouting for one reason or another,” Chandler said. “We have STEM in on this. They can learn computer programming and robotics.”