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Boy Scouts enjoy trips, building friendships

Boys will be boys, but there is at least one local organization dedicated to giving those boys the skills they need to become men.

Alan Runion is proof positive of what Boy Scouts has to offer.

A member of Andalusia Boy Scouts Troop 46, which is one of many local organizations dependent on money from the Covington County United Fund, Runion is a junior at Straughn High School and the 16-year-old son of Shannon Thomas and Ray Runion. He has been in Boy Scouts since he was 10.

“The great thing about Boy Scouts is that you can watch everyone progress and learn leadership skills,” he said. “The things that we do together are so much fun — the trips, especially.”

Since 1910, Scouting has helped mold the future leaders of this country by combining educational activities and lifelong values with fun. According to their Web site, The Boy Scouts of America “understands that helping youth puts us on a path toward a more conscientious, responsible and productive society.”

Those are exactly the lessons taught to the 35 boys currently in the local program, said Scout Master David Bryant.

Boys in the first through fifth grade start in Cub Scouts. Between ages 9 and 10, they transition to Boy Scouts. At each level, the boys must perform certain skills tasks to make it to the ultimate level — Eagle Scout.

Runion is about six months away from becoming an Eagle Scout, Bryant said.

“Alan is a prime example of what a Boy Scout is and can accomplish,” he said. “He’s a smart, well-mannered young man who knows what it means to work for and with his community. He takes his Boy Scout commitment very seriously.

“It’s the skills these boys learn — leadership, management and life skills and even practical things like shopping and cooking — that will serve them well throughout their lives,” he said. “That’s why it’s important to encourage their participation.”

Runion said one of the biggest benefits of being a Boy Scout is traveling.

“The trips are the best,” he said. “We’ve been whitewater rafting in Tennessee; hiking in New Mexico, and this year, we’re going to the Grand Tetons for a 10-day, carrying all you need to survive in the wilderness, trip.”

Not surprisingly, those trips are expensive. Runion works part time at CJ’s Grille to fund his excursions, and also participates in Scout fund-raisers.

“We’ve had bake sales, car washes and we’re going to be selling Boston Butts sometime this month,” Bryant said. “The boys sell tickets and that money goes into an account for them, so they really do work hard to earn those trips.”

Portions of the money donated each year by United Fund go to purchase things like tents and other assorted camping gear items.

“We buy stuff that has to last and it’s not cheap,” Bryant said. “So that money that we get really goes a long way in helping us provide these experiences for these kids. They’re our future and that’s why it’s important to donate to United Fund.”

Coming Saturday: The Covington County chapter of the American Red Cross.