Boy Scouts of America celebrate 100 years
This year marked the 100th anniversary for the Boy Scouts of America and the Darien troops didn't miss out on the chance to celebrate.
"Andrew Shaw was a First Selectman and he donated the land and the cabin that we use today," Gray said. "The boy scout troop started out as one troop but it grew to 130 kids so it had to be split into two."
"We have over 200 Eagle Scouts who are from Darien," Gray said.
Gray said one of the most important aspects of being in the Boy Scouts is that it's an activity that someone can stick with for a number of years while learning to be a strong leader.
As part of the 100-year celebration, a special event was held on June 4 to honor a number of individuals, Gray said.
"We had over 100 people attend," Gray said. As an added incentive, the Boy Scout council initiated a 100 year service competition where each troop was responsible for selecting a project, Gray said. One troop chose to gather supplies to send to Haiti while other troops engaged in projects like painting a world map on the Royle Elementary School playground or gathering computers to be sent to Guatemala, Gray said.
"Every year there are many projects and Ring's End has been a supporter by donating supplies because the scouts can't spend any money," Gray said.
Over the years, Gray said she has seen an increase in the number of kids who are getting involved with the Boy Scouts.
"This year we have 70 kids in one troop and 80 in another," Gray said. "It varies year to year but depends on the size of the classes."
Gray also pointed out that many of the participants in Boy Scouts are also involved in other activities.
"You learn to be very organized," Gray said laughing. "When you're a scout you're in it for almost the entire year, so it's quite a time commitment."
The Boy Scouts offers another unique opportunity that other activities may not offer: many of the scouts get to interact with kids who aren't their own age, Gray said.
"They learn from each other," Gray said. "If a boy enters when he is 11 and stays until he's 18, you get this great bridge of alumni in Darien."
Even as the scouts attempt to earn any of a 130 different merit badges, there is still time to relax and have fun.
"The scouts have Fun Friday where they get together and relax," Gray said. "In a way, it's a little like a club house."
Although the Boy Scouts are dedicated to helping those around them, they still require funding to help pay for the wide array of equipment they need, Gray said. To help raise the money, the Boy Scouts began doing a tag sale which has been going on for 38 years, Gray said.
"The tag sale is a huge effort," Gray said. "It takes about three to four weeks to pull together and we have literally hundreds of thousands of items that need to be sold in seven hours."
Because the tag sale is the main source of income for the Boy Scouts, the community is always willing to donate items; some of which the scouts will keep to use themselves.
"We had some pilots in town who would fly for fun and they donated a flight simulator and offered to come teach the boys so the boys could earn an aviation badge," Gray said. "When I say we have everything at the tag sale, I mean everything."
Despite the success the Boy Scouts have had, Gray and Morgan both acknowledged the success is due in large part to the support of the community.
"We want to thank the people of Darien," Gray said. "I wish Hillary Clinton hadn't coined the phrase, but it really does take a village."
Gray said without the support of the community, the boys wouldn't have the same number of opportunities.
"The boys really learn a lot," Gray said.