Boy Scout troop from Murrysville leaves lasting legacy

| Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, 9:02 p.m.

While Boy Scout Troop 206 won't continue, its legacy will live on in the form of a scholarship honoring two longtime leaders.

The Janet and Boyd Kessinger High Adventure Scholarship Fund will be used to help local scouts participate in events such as those at the Florida National High Adventure Sea Base and the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in West Virginia. High adventure activities were the hallmark of the troop, which was formed in the early 1960s.

“The troop hopes others will contribute to it in honor of the Kessingers,” said Anne McCamy, of Murrysville, who was the troop's parent representative.

“Long term, it would be wonderful if people who value scouting and especially high adventure experiences will continue to donation. We hope this scholarship fund will grow and be there when the boys of 206 are sending their own sons off to camp.”

McCamy become involved with the troop, which was based out of First United Methodist Church, when her son joined after Cub Scouts. Though they visited a number of different troops, she said, he decided that he liked 206 the best.

As McCamy's family became more involved, they noticed that adults like the Kessingers stayed involved with the troop after their children were grown.

“This takes an unusual amount of dedication,” she said.

For the Kessingers, scouting is a family affair. Boyd, 84, was a scout leader with 206 since 1974. Janet served as a liaison for the group. Their son, David and grandsons have been active in Boy Scouts throughout their lives, too.

“I've got more out of it than I put into it. It's that rewarding for me,” Kessinger said.

The closure of the troop, he said, was sad, but something that leaders could see coming for a number of years. He attributes changes in interests and activities to the decreasing involvement in the type of scouting that the troop provided. High adventure scouting was the focus of the group. It focuses on events like canoeing and backpacking.

Numbers from the Boy Scouts of America indicate overall decline. For example, in 2000, there were about 948,000 Boy Scouts while in 2010, there were about 848,000.

With the new scholarship, however, the focus on high adventure scouting will continue, but in a different form. The scholarship will help cover costs of sending scouts on high adventures activities. Kessinger will sit on the committee that awards the scholarships, which will go to boys who earn part of the costs themselves.

Doing so ensures “that any boy that does his part will get the chance to be a part of high adventure scouting,” Kessinger said.

“It will never be to pay a boy's way to go somewhere, because part of the Boy Scout ethic is to earn what you pay for,” he said.

Julie A. Martin is a freelance writer.

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