Scoutreach: Providing leadership skills to young children

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Now in its third year, more than 85 young boys in grades 5K through fifth grade are learning leadership skills in Cub Scout packs.

The packs are part of the Scoutreach Division of the Boy Scouts of America, which provides special emphasis to urban and rural Scouting programs. Funding for Scoutreach in Hartsville is underwritten by Sonoco Products Compay. The program is implemented by the Pee Dee Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America and the TEACH Foundation, which oversees the Comer School Development Program in four Hartsville elementary schools where the packs reside.

Since September 2013, the young boys meet at Southside Early Childhood Center, Thornwell School for the Arts, Washington Street and West Hartsville elementary schools where they learn scouting values and skills set forth in scouting.

Each school focuses on a difference grade levels. There are Tiger Cubs from the first grade and Wolves from the second grade at Washington Street. The third grade Bear Cubs are at Thornwell, and the fourth grade class was chosen to participate at West Hartsville. At West Hartsville, the Webelos are now in their second year.

Although the children at Southside are still too young to be Tiger Cubs, they are in a program called Learning for Life, says Sharman Poplava, executive director of the TEACH Foundation. The Learning for Life program teaches the same values as the Cub Scout programs and next year the students can hop right into Scouting. 

Each school has teachers and/or staff that assist the packs as leaders. And in addition to assisting the den leaders, new Scoutreach director Marquita Gaither helps coordinate activities and events.

The funding from Sonoco provides everything the scouts need, Poplava says. Transportation for trips, awards, uniforms and badges are all covered. 

The idea behind the Scoutreach program is to open up a new world for the children who would not likely have participated otherwise. The Scouts earn badges, learn to fold a flag, wear uniforms and learn to be responsible for their own actions, Poplava adds. "We believed the precepts of scouting tie directly to the Comer School Development program being implemented in four elementary schools."

One project that really took off last year was the Community Garden project. The Cub Scouts learned about nutrition and the value of nature. They designed and planted their own garden plots, and grew their own vegetables and /or flowers.

Community leader Nancy Myers spearheaded the project . She recruited a professor from Coker College and a teacher from the Governor’s School for Science and Math--both partners in the PULSE program--to assist with the garden project. Volunteers taught the boys how to grow vegetables, and provided structured activities to include community service, citizenship, responsibility, decision making, hands on recycling, and more.

In short, Scoutreach offers boys activities that enhance their basic school lesson plans and gives them a wider view of the community where they live. It also brings them in touch with the greater community around them, Poplava says.