Scouts to march in D.C. parade

Craig Scott remembers sitting around a crackling campfire with fellow members of Boy Scout Troop 84 at Reed Gold Mine on a pitch-dark night.

The boys scooped clumps of clay from the ground, rolled them into marble-size balls and baked them in the glowing embers. The Boy Scout motto, "Be prepared," hung in the back of Scott's mind.

Soon he heard countless thuds, like heavy raindrops, as Boy Scout troops that had gathered for the 1975 Winter Camporee traded clay nuggets with their slingshots.

Scott, now a Baptist minister, is chaplain, charter representive and committee chairman of a troop 45 miles outside Concord. He looks back on that night with laughter and fond memories.

"No one really got hurt," he recalled. He has stayed in contact with many fellow scouts. "As far as I can tell, we all turned out pretty good."

This year, Boy Scouts of America celebrates 100 years of its program, aimed at allowing boys to be boys while teaching them to be leaders.

Today, local scouts will represent Cabarrus County in the Boy Scouts of America's Grand Centennial Parade in Washington, D.C. The mile-long march will take them past the White House, Washington Monument and Smithsonian Institution.

It's an honor, said Eric Marsee, 15, a senior patrol leader in Troop 128: Boy Scouts haven't marched in Washington since 1937.

Since Boy Scouts of America was founded in 1910, 110million Americans have become members. Two million have earned the Eagle Scout rank, scouting's highest achievement. Of those, 1,398 have hailed from Cabarrus County.

The county's scouting history originated just a few years after of the national organization's beginnings.

Troop 1 is said to have formed in the 1920s at First Presbyterian Church in Kannapolis. According to the Central N.C. Council, BSA, which includes Cabarrus, the county now has 41 Cub Scout packs and 37 Boy Scout troops.

"We're in great shape as a council," said M.D. Ford, 73, a former scoutmaster and council president.

Ford himself didn't spend much time as a Boy Scout in his youth. In the 1940s, he spent three years in Troop 35.

"Back then, all of us little boys had to work," he said. He rejoined as an adult at age 19 and has been involved ever since.

Scouting has endured for one simple reason, Ford said: "It's held fast to its values. We teach reverence."

Bob Weatherman, Concord District executive for the regional council, agrees: "The boys still get the same basic program William Boyce initiated in 1910. "They are still getting the experience in the outdoors." That's the lure for generations of kids, he said. "It's the adventure."

Eric from Troop 128 said, "You get to do stuff in scouts you don't get to do anywhere else."

At home in Concord, Eric is a senior patrol leader.

"I run the meeting," he said. "I basically try to keep order." It's not always easy, he admitted.

But it's worth it, said his dad, Mike Marsee, an assistant scoutmaster with the troop.

"It is such a positive experience. This sets the stage for him becoming a leader from here on."

Seventy-five years ago, the first generation of Boy Scouts tucked a time capsule into the old fieldstone chimney at Camp Cabarrus, the grounds that have hosted countless scouting events over the years.

When the scouts pulled it out this year, they found five stones from the Holy Land, a brick from a cabin where the last Native American scalping in the county was said to have occurred, and several small iron balls that were used as shot.

Each represents an idea that's just as important to a Boy Scout today as it was 100 years ago: Holding fast to values, keeping a sense of adventure, and - whether it's iron balls for ancient wars or baked clay balls for play fights - securing a little ammunition.