Volunteers with the local Boy Scouts of America district are hoping area businesses will step up to expand its Columbia County programs.
The Columbia County Friends of Scouting, a fundraising campaign, started recently.
"What we wanted to do was to implement an awareness campaign targeting the business community," said Zack Daffin, district campaign chairman. "And to make them aware of the value of Boy Scouting in Columbia County and its tremendous potential."
The number of Columbia County Boy Scouts ages 11 to 17 grew from 290 in 2009 to 411 this year, Daffin said. That figure doesn't count the boys in Cub Scouts (first- through third-graders) and Webelos (fourth- and fifth-graders).
Daffin said he got involved with the campaign because he was a Boy Scout and appreciates the values-based educational and physical experience it provides.
Daffin said 89 percent of senior class presidents were Boy Scouts, as were 72 percent of Rhodes scholars, 85 percent of FBI agents and 57.4 percent of astronauts.
"It is obvious that the program works," Daffin said. "And it works to develop confidence in our young people."
Most funds used in Boy Scout troops are raised by troop members. Each troop participates in an annual nationwide popcorn sale. But other funds used for activities, trips, camps and jamborees are raised by the boys or come out of parents' pockets.
"Each individual troop does their own thing," said Scoutmaster Danny Kuhlmann, leader of Troop 2 in Martinez.
Kuhlmann's troop is the largest in the two-county Kiokee District, which also includes McCormick County, with 58 active members. He has led the troop for more than 13 years.
In 2009, the troop raised about $4,300 in yard sales and other events to purchase an enclosed trailer, Kuhlmann said.
Because his troop is a very active group, it takes lots of trips, including camping, white-water rafting and to jamborees.
When extra funds are needed, Kuhlmann said, he often pulls out his own wallet. He puts $6,000 to $10,000 each year into troop needs. But not all troops raise as much money as his, and not all leaders can afford to contribute as much, so any additional funds would be a help, he said.
Daffin said he has sent letters to area businesses, though individual donations also will be accepted. He is asking for donations of $50 to $250.
"So far, it has been a wonderful response," Daffin said, adding that the goal is to grow the Boy Scout opportunities in the county and make more parents aware of the program.
The funds could be used to assist boys who can't afford Scouting and possibly to the development of Camp Blackstone, a proposed Scout camp on Blackstone Camp Road in Evans.
"The new camp coming up, Camp Blackstone, that would be a great thing for the money," Kuhlmann said, adding that having a local camp would save tremendously on travel costs.
Anyone wishing to make a donation can send checks, made out to the Georgia-Carolina Council, BSA, to: Zack Daffin, 3530 Wheeler Road, Augusta, GA 30907.
For information, call Daffin at (706) 739-1072.
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