In 1971, Britt Helms joined Cub Scout Pack 108. He worked his way up to Webelo then moved on to the Boy Scouts – earning his Eagle badge in 1979. He didn’t know then that 24 years later, he’d sign his son up for the same pack and he, too, would become an Eagle Scout.
For 50 years, Cub Scout Pack 108 – the oldest in Fort Mill – has served as a landing pad and springboard for generations of boys. The pack will hold a Blue & Gold Banquet to celebrate its 50th anniversary on Feb. 15.
When Helms’ son joined the pack in 2003, Helms took over as Cub Master and served until 2008. He remembers when the pack tripled its size after a successful School Night for Scouting event.
“The pack grew from 40 Scouts to 120 Scouts in just one night,” he said. “We had to rethink the way we did everything to accommodate the increase in numbers.”
Fortunately, several of the pack’s adult leaders had recently attended Boy Scout Leader Wood Badge training which better prepared them to make the necessary changes in the program to effectively lead a large family of Cub Scouts.
These days, Cub Master Larry Caulder leads 62 Scouts in Pack 108. He said the boys basically learn the same skills Scouts learned 50 years ago.
“It’s survival skills – they learn how to tie knots, how to survive, how to start a fire, how to do CPR and first aid,” Caulder said. “We teach them stuff that, unless they go and get training somewhere, they’re not going to get.”
Each year, the Scouts set out to accomplish seven achievements – one of which is an elective. Caulder said the Scouts can choose from a list of 15 to 20 electives, everything from fishing and astronomy to geology and coin collecting.
Pack 108 meets at Unity Presbyterian Church in Fort Mill, which also celebrates an anniversary this year – 230 years. Predating the town of Fort Mill, Unity held its first service on March 18, 1788.
Church administrative officer Jacob Saylor offered a bit of context for the church’s history.
“Consider our country’s history as Unity was beginning its life and growth,” he said.
“George Washington became the U.S. President the following year in 1789. The Library of Congress was established in 1800. Imagine individuals and families coming together to worship God, create community and provide for each other in this frontier.”
Generations of families have called Unity home – to worship, to wed and to mourn the loss of loves ones. Saylor said Unity has maintained a vibrant and growing congregation by focusing on worship, encouraging a nurturing environment and serving Fort Mill residents.
“Another factor in Unity’s growth has been how the congregation and the community are woven together,” he said. “The Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts are examples of this connectedness.”
The Blue & Gold Banquet will be held at Unity Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall on Feb. 15 at 6:30 p.m. The banquet is open to anyone who has been involved with Pack 108 since its inception.
Helms said he was proud to have his son grow up in the same pack and troop that he did so many years ago.
“Though many things about the program itself have evolved over the years, the basic ideas of teaching good character, good decision making and leadership skills – along with lots of fun activities – remain as the foundation of the program,” he said.
Caulder is watching his own son move through Pack 108’s ranks. Although he was never a
Scout, he sees the value in the program.
“You don’t have to be an athletic sports star or a mathematical or scientific genius, Scouts is good for boys who don’t know where their niche is yet,” Caulder said. “It incorporates a little bit of everything. Every boy who goes in and does their best, they’re going to accomplish something in Scouts.”
Stephanie Jadrnicek: firstname.lastname@example.org