Scouts' honor

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 Tom Marine/The Daily ReflectorBill Stancil, a former member of the 340 Troop, sits in front of a table showing his numerous badges and medals. Stancil said the troop was always well organized and encouraged the boys to achieve their very best.



By Tom Marine
The Daily Reflector

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Boy Scouts' motto is "be prepared."

This week, Boy Scout Troop 340 will be preparing for a Special Court of Honor, to celebrate 50 years of scouting in Pitt County. The troop, which is sponsored by Saint James United Methodist Church, is hosting the ceremony at 2 p.m. Saturday at the church.

"We have invited people that have been part of the troop during the last 50 years," said current Scoutmaster Chris Taylor. "We are asking scouts from different eras to reminisce about any activities from their careers."

Since its creation, Taylor said, the troop has seen nearly 90 of its members achieve the highest level in scouting - Eagle Scout. Also, he said about five of the adult leaders have earned the Silver Beaver, a prestigious award given to the most active adults volunteering to help the scouts.

"I feel so strongly in the Scout Oath," Taylor said. "It is the basic foundation for building character and preparing them for the real world."

The 340 troop was created in 1958 and includes a number of local leaders who are former members, including Superior Court Judge Thomas Haigwood and Ronald Vincent, head baseball coach of J.H. Rose High School.

"It's interesting to see how some of these kids have grown up over the years," said Bill Pleuddemann, who came to Greenville in 1972 and became Scoutmaster of Troop 340 during the 1970s and 1980s. "We always tried to get everybody together to participate. We tried to teach our kids that this is life, what you are dealt and how you deal with it."

Pleuddemann said the best thing about being a Scoutmaster was having an effect on a child's life. He asks himself how did he guide their lives and how they are doing today.

"You never forget your first Scoutmaster," Pleuddemann said.

Bill Stancil was a member of Troop 340 for four years, during the late 1950s and early 1960s. At 67 years old, he may be one of the highest ranking scouts in the area - an Eagle Scout with seven palms.

"The 340 Troop was one of the best organized troops," said Stancil, who was also a Scoutmaster in Tarboro and has been the commissioner on several different councils. "Part of that organization was to achieve the best you could possibly do."

As stated by the Boy Scouts of America's East Carolina Council, its main purpose is to offer effective character, citizenship and personal fitness training for boys ages 11-18. There are 15 boys in Troop 340 this year, participating in camping, hiking, canoeing and kayaking.

"It moves you into manhood," Stancil said. "It encouraged us to work on our ranks and have high goals. It was a notch above the others."

Frank Carson said he joined the Boy Scouts in 1958 and remained a member for 10 years.

Carson, who has twice taken on the role of Cub master, described the troop as a second family away from home. He said he is sold on the program because of how much the church supports it.

"The leadership of the troop made it what it was," Carson said. "They were excellent role models and representatives of the church. The church was always very supportive of what they wanted to try."

Both Stancil and Carson said they have noticed changes in how the Boy Scouts are viewed by younger generations.

"I think the Boy Scouts are perceived by the ‘in crowd' as not being cool like it used to be," Carson said. "It was an accepted part of life through the late '50s and up to the mid '60s. Now, the kids talk about being teased about their uniforms."

Carson said another major difference is the number of adults willing to spend the time to volunteer has dwindled.

"There are so many things for kids to do now, with baseball, karate and soccer, that it seems like there is always something going on," he said. "But there is no greater lesson that can be learned by the youth of today, than what is taught by the Scout's Oath."

When asked about any special memories he has from his time leading the troop, Pleuddemann recalled several Sunday mornings when he would take the scouts to a remote place just to listen to nature. He said they would hear the wind, the birds, the insects and the wild animals.

"Take the time to look and listen," Pleuddemann said. "It's all in front of you."


Contact Tom Marine at or (252) 329-9567.

The Scout Oath

On my honor I will do my best

To do my duty to God and my country

and to obey the Scout Law;

To help other people at all times;

To keep myself physically strong,

mentally awake, and morally straight.