There is some exciting news relating to the Boy Scouts here in the CSRA. Perhaps it is fitting that on the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Boy Scouts that we all take stock of what our local scouts are doing. The news is very good, but there is need for help from the community. Let me explain.
The Robert E. Knox Boy Scout Reservation is undergoing a number of major projects that will make this outstanding 500-acre facility so much better in the years ahead. On a splendid site in Lincoln County on the shores of Clarks Hill Lake, this reservation is, most appropriately, out in the boondocks.
Last month, two engineering units of the Georgia National Guard accomplished a great deal at the Knox reservation. One unit, which specializes in vertical construction, built a number of structures that include a staff pavilion measuring 24 feet by 60 feet. This pavilion, which will serve as the headquarters for the summer camp staff, comes complete with restroom facilities and showers.
Other projects include the construction of six cabins known as "Fred Sheds" (in honor of former Scout council president Fred C. Davidson) for the staff to sleep in during their summer stay.
THE NATIONAL GUARD also is preparing the site for the construction of a 3,000-square-foot boathouse and a program shelter where shotgun shooting will be taught. The other Army unit, which specializes in horizontal construction, built a multi-tiered amphitheater that will seat 800 Scouts and their leaders. The amphitheater is in the perfect place -- high on a hill where everyone will have a spectacular view of the lake.
Also under way is the construction of the sports complex, which will have both a baseball field and a football/soccer field.
These soldiers, who have greatly enjoyed this work, will return later in the year to finish up those projects that are not yet complete. Thanks to the generosity of a number of local businesses, all of the essential construction materials were in place when construction began June 14.
The Knox Scout Reservation is situated on perhaps the most scenic piece of property on the entire lake. It can be reached by driving 55 minutes north.
Here are some directions: Drive out Washington Road. As you pass Pollard's Corner, continue straight (Ga. Highway 47) for another nine miles, and look for the green sign on the right pointing to the Knox Scout Reservation. Turn right on Ashmore-Barton Road. About three miles later, turn right and continue to follow the green signs. Your last turn, just beyond a golf course, will be to the left (again look for the green sign). The Scout reservation will appear on your right within a mile.
The health of the Boy Scout programs in the CSRA is excellent. The number of Scouts is, again, on the rise. In 2009 the Scout population within Georgia Carolina Council grew by 13.9 percent, ranking it third of the 295 Boy Scout councils in the nation.
Doug Cates, who has been outstanding as president of the board, has agreed to stay in that position for another year. What is really impressive is that there is some kind of Scout activity taking place here in the CSRA nearly every weekend. Each activity is successful because of the good planning and hard work of our Scouting officials and hundreds of dedicated volunteers.
AS YOU LOOK TO the future, there is an important Boy Scout event that will take place this fall. Here is where your help is needed. A very special visitor will be the honored guest at the Boy Scout Fleur de Lis dinner on the evening of Friday, Nov. 5. Col. Leo Thorsness, a Medal of Honor recipient (and an Eagle Scout), will grace us with his presence.
He earned his Medal of Honor while engaged in aerial combat over North Vietnam in 1967. Shortly after that heroic mission, Thorsness was shot down. He spent six years as a prisoner of war. He was so badly tortured that his back was broken four times.
For the past two years, this dinner, which is held in the elegant upper rooms of St. Paul's Church, has been a sellout. I recommend that you make reservations soon. Just call the Boy Scout office at (706) 733-5277. Those who make reservations early will get the best seating. With only 89 living Medal of Honor recipients, meeting one is a special privilege.
For those who are able, I suggest you purchase a table (eight seats) and invite your family members and friends. If you cannot fill the table, turn the unused seats back to the Scout office and wounded warriors in the local area will be invited. They will be thrilled to be in the presence of the recipient of America's highest award for combat heroism. At the dinner, Thorsness will sign copies of his fascinating new book, Surviving Hell .
(The writer, a retired U.S. Air Force major general, is the secretary of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.)