By Katie Milligan
On Friday, March 24, State Representative Tim Barhorst and other prominent community leaders gathered at the Urbana Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5451 for the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) Friends of Scouting fundraising luncheon, hosted by the Tecumseh Council.
The Tecumseh Council is celebrating 100 years this year since its formation in 1923. The council serves the counties of Logan, Champaign, Clark, Greene, and Clinton by offering four different BSA programs: Cub Scouts (for youth in first through fifth grade), Scouts BSA (for young men and women aged 11-18), Venturing (an adventure program for young men and women aged 14-20), and Exploring (a career-focused program for young men and women aged 14-20). Currently, the Tecumseh Council is serving over 1,849 youth members with the help of over 827 adult volunteers through 82 local scouting units.
The year 2022 was another highly successful one for the Tecumseh Council’s five counties. Over 32,000 nights of camping occurred at Camp Hugh Taylor Birch in Yellow Springs, and over 35,000 pounds of food were collected during the council’s Scouting for Food drive for the community pantries in Logan, Champaign, Clark, Greene, and Clinton counties. An impressive 21,000-plus hours of community service were reported, and 2,040 merit badges earned by Scout BSA members and 718 ranks earned by Cub Scouts (with 75 Cub Scouts earning the pinnacle rank, Arrow of Light). Additionally, the council had 40 youths participate in its National Youth Leadership Training experience.
The event kicked off with networking and a formal introduction from Tom Gates, the Tecumseh Council District Chair for Champaign and Logan Counties.
Next, Gates welcomed Duncan Greenlee and Max Rudolph, Life Scouts of Troop 11 both working on their Eagle Scout projects, to lead the attendees in the Pledge of Allegiance, Scout Oath, and Scout Law.
At Gates’ invitation, Greenlee then shared what the Boy Scouts organization has meant to him throughout his life.
“I’ve been a Scout all my life, and I’ve learned so much from it,” said Greenlee. “It’s taught me how to be a leader. I’m proud to be a Scout.”
Gates then gave a brief background on scouting– an organization founded in 1908 by Robert Baden-Powell with 20 members that has grown to over 100 million members over the last century worldwide. Gates hailed Baden-Powell as a hero who has helped generations of youth lead and serve in their communities.
Gates, a previous Scout himself who earned 37 merit badges, said, “I look at my scouting career as the foundation that built my life, that built my career. For me, scouting is everything. Because of scouting, I am a better man.”
David Greenlee, Duncan’s father and Scoutmaster of Troop 11, gave an invocation before the gathering enjoyed a light lunch.
Afterwards, Scout Executive and CEO Rob Lavoie gave a brief state of the council address. Lavoie touched on the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic had on scouting; in June 2020, Camp Hugh Taylor Birch in Yellow Springs opened thanks to the Tecumseh Council community of volunteers coming together, and it was one of only 58 boy scout camps (of 465 in the nation) that opened that year.
“There was a lot that we had to do to open, but the smiling faces on all the boys and girls that we served made life really easy,” said Lavoie. “Your gifts have made all these things possible at Camp Birch. We couldn’t have opened without your support three years ago, and then remained open since then.”
Lavoie also mentioned some of the recent accomplishments for the Scouts at Camp Birch: a sawmill was purchased (used to construct five picnic tables to date with more forthcoming), a new archery shed was built, new archery and rifle range pavilions opened up and even a new zipline was installed.
Lavoie also celebrated that the Tecumseh Council boasted 47 Scouts who reached the prestigious rank of Eagle Scout in 2022. Eagle Scout projects begin when Scouts are 11 years old and continue for about five years, involving between 140-160 hours of service and work.
Lavoie then welcomed the afternoon’s keynote speaker to the podium: 85th District State Rep. Tim Barhorst.
Barhorst, who hails from Fort Laramie, has two business degrees and is a small business owner as founder and president of Business Partners, Incorporated, a full-service comprehensive employee benefits and financial planning group. Barhorst also owns and operates Behm’s Restaurant on Grand Lake St. Mary’s.
Barhorst shared that his 14-year-old son is currently a Scout and is enjoying pursuing his merit badges.
Barhorst explained an acronym that serves as a guiding principle for his life in business and politics: T.R.I.P., which also aligns with the Scouting mission to build strong leaders. T stands for trust, R stands for respect, I stands for integrity, and P stands for place.
“When you’re in a small town, you are accountable for what you do,” Barhorst said. “Our towns and our communities are very similar in this district, whether it’s Shelby, Logan, or Champaign. I’m here to serve; I’m here to fight for our values and serve our community.”
Gates returned to gift Barhorst with a Scout coin before closing the afternoon, thanking all for attending and for their support of local youth through Scouting.
Prior to the luncheon, the Friends of Scouting had raised $155,000 of their $286,000 goal.
If you are interested in donating, visit www.tecumsehcouncilbsa.org.
Reach the writer at [email protected].