ST. PETERSBURG — In 2010, the Boy Scouts of America celebrated a century of providing constructive, character-building activities for youngsters.
After 100 years, Scouting remains popular. In this part of Florida, the Skyway district's membership is up by 15 percent, but dedicated volunteers are needed.
"We can never have enough volunteers," said Yeng Her, Skyway District director. "People can give in a number of ways, they can give of their time or money or resources."
Candice Nyarkoh, the Skyway District senior executive, added that "what we need is commitment."
The commitment is three hours per week and up, depending on the volunteer position. Volunteers with any background can be trained for recruiting, promotions or day camp activities working with kids.
Every volunteer must go through youth protection training before submitting an application to the Boy Scouts of America, and two leaders must be present in any situation working with the kids.
Most recruiting is done by word of mouth because advertising for volunteers is too costly.
"We don't always realize the results of Scouting right away, but it comes back to the community, we see it down the road," Her said.
"The ethical foundation and all the qualities that come along with Scouting contribute to successful people. That's what we're trying to do, give them mentorship. We need more adult leadership, that's what we would like to focus on this year," said Joe Smith, Skyway District chairman.
Smith, a retired police officer, has been involved with the Scouts for most of his life. He is also the coordinator for the Southeastern Public Safety Institute (police academy) at St. Petersburg College. He said there was at least one Eagle Scout in every class over the past year.
"We have a high concentration of Eagle Scouts in the (Pinellas County) area and we would like to appeal to them since they know the program inside and out."
"Productive activities plus education work great together to produce future law-abiding citizens. I met a man who was a judge for about 18 years, and he said the amount of people who came before him that were Scouts, he could count only on one hand," said Nyarkoh.
"It all starts with character building," Her added. "If we instill the good character, they will be better citizens in the future. They are our future."