The regional Boy Scouts council is one of the best in the nation, according to an executive from the organization who addressed the Mount Airy Rotary Club luncheon on Tuesday.
“The youth in Surry County are getting the highest quality program in the south,” said Brady Adcock, district executive, adding that the Old Hickory Council ranked fourth out of 273 councils nationwide.
“It’s pretty amazing when you think of it.”
Adcock, who oversees the Hanging Rock/Dogwood district, spoke from both personal experience and the results of a Boy Scouts of America ranking system.
The Old Hickory Council, which is headquartered in Winston-Salem, serves Surry, Stokes, Forsyth, Yadkin, Wilkes, Allegheny, Ashe and Watauga counties.
The council’s camp, Raven Knob, is located near Lowgap.
Adcock recalled attending camp there in the early 2000s, where he earned a pivotal merit badge in personal fitness.
“I weigh the same right now as I did in fifth grade,” he said.
But after earning the badge at Raven Knob, Adcock started running one mile a day.
He kept it up and ran competitively in high school and college.
“I’m still at it,” said Adcock, who has completed several marathons and super-marathons.
On April 18, he ran in the Boston Marathon. “I can connect that directly to what I did in scouts,” he said. “You think (scouting) is all about camping and adventures. It’s about character development.”
His experiences led to leadership roles in student government at college and beyond.
“All the things I’ve done through scouting I’ve been able to directly apply it to my professional career,” he said.
Last year, Adcock hiked the 2,190-mile Appalachian Trail.
“The mental and physical challenges were profound,” he said. “I couldn’t have done it without Boy Scouts. It was the most rewarding experience in my life.”
Adcock said the local scouting programs are well positioned to make a similar positive impact on the many youths and families involved.
He provided the members present at the luncheon with statistical data aimed at measuring the impact of the council.
Last year, the 4,525 youth involved earned 5,373 merit badges, provided 33,123 hours of service and collected 64,546 pounds of food for local agencies.
Scouts earning the rank of Eagle Scout numbered 147.
Raven Knob drew 4,600 youth from 12 states.
Adcock noted that while the data can only gives an indication of the quantity of the program, it is more difficult to a meaningful way to measure its quality.
The Boy Scouts of America established the Journey to Excellence Program to measure and recognize local councils’ level of effectiveness in delivering high-quality scouting experiences.
The criteria for the ranking system includes growth in outreach through recruiting and retention, financial sustainability, service hours, participation by scouts in camping and other outdoor programs, activity level of Scouts indicated by their advancement through ranks, engagement and training of volunteer adult leaders and mentors, support of local units through staff and volunteers, level of customer satisfaction among volunteers, scouts and parents and continuous improvement in key areas of quality program delivery.
According to the 2015 results, the Old Hickory Council ranked highest among the 90 local councils in 13 states comprising the southern region, and fourth among all 273 councils in the United States.
The Old Hickory Council earned the gold level of achievement, which is the highest possible.
At the luncheon, Raven Knob Ranger Dave Whitfield updated the Rotary group with news from the camp, which contributes significantly to the quality of the local council.
Whitfield noted that when he signed on as ranger in 1994 the camp serviced about 2,200 youth.
“Our facilities have grown exponentially,” said Whitfield, noting that investment in capital improvements have helped the camp “become the gem it really could be.”
Mentioning new workshop space to offer a welding merit badge and attention to STEM subject areas like robotics, Whitfield said the program has come a long way from his scouting days of sharpening knives and axes.
“This is the generation we’re in,” he said.
Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.