Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Scouting Enhances Boys' Lives Eagle Scouts Call Group Rewarding

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Scouting Enhances Boys' Lives Eagle Scouts Call Group Rewarding

Article excerpt

Jere Ratcliffe has devoted his life to scouting.

Now a retired national scout executive, Ratcliffe's career began 55 years ago when he joined a Cub Scout troop at Murray Hill United Methodist Church on Jacksonville's Westside.

Ratcliffe went on to become an Eagle Scout, an honor earned only by a small percentage of those who join the national organization founded by Lord Baden-Powell. Saturday night he sat with a room full of other Eagle Scouts, including a retired Air Force colonel and ex-POW, Bill Byrns, who took part in the 19th annual Eagle Scout Recognition Dinner at Orange Park Methodist Church honoring 29 young men from Clay County troops for achieving scouting's highest award.

"It is important to recognize these young men, the volunteers who worked with them, and the parents who stood behind them," Ratcliffe said. "Becoming an Eagle Scout contributes to a young man's life in many ways. It made me a better person and helped me develop a value system for God, my country, and my fellow man."

Orange Park High School senior class president Mike Bennett, who attained the rank of Eagle in December, echoed Ratcliffe's feelings.

"Scouting is directly responsible for teaching me how to lead others," said the 18-year-old Bennett, who plans to attend the U.S. Naval Academy after graduation and pursue a career in medicine. "Becoming an Eagle Scout shows I can make a commitment and do what needs to be done. I am very proud of my achievement."

Like Bennett, Stephen Adams set his sights on becoming an Eagle Scout when he joined the organization 10 years ago. Now 16, and a student at Paxon School for Advanced Studies, Adams saw his goal become a reality in October.

"Being an Eagle Scout means being all you can be for all the people you can be," said Adams, a member of troop 25, which meets at the Orange Park Methodist Church. …

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