By Matt Harrelson
HAMLET — The Wood Badge award is given only to those who earn it.
While the distinction signals an accomplishment, it also marks only the beginning of a recipient’s commitment to Boy Scouts of America.
On Friday night at Hamlet First United Methodist Church during the Richmond County District’s annual awards banquet, Mark Sanford and Greg Shelley from Troop 527 were awarded their Wood Badge beads, neckerchiefs, leather woggle sailor knot and certificate by Wood Badge staffers Joe Gray and Mike Ussery for their outstanding work in the Boy Scouts of America training program.
It is the highest training honor that an adult can be awarded is the Wood Badge award, and two leaders received this once in a lifetime accolade.
Ussery described the program as six days of hands on training including scout craft and leadership skills. It also includes several hundred hours of volunteer time which is to be completed within 18 months.
“This is over and above scout training,” Ussery said. “This is a huge commitment. It teaches you how to work together.”
Sanford was very happy to have earned such a prestigious award.
“It’s an honor to get this. It’s been a lot of hard work,” Sanford said. “It not only helps me in scouting but it helps me in life in general.”
Shelley recognized the difficulty in earning the Wood Badge and thanked Sanford for helping him get there.
“It’s been tough,” Shelley said. ” I couldn’t have done it without Mark. We went through it together.”
Altogether there are 439 youth in scouts in Richmond County, said Brandon Sisk, district executive. That number includes nine Eagle Scouts, which is the highest rank a scout can receive.
Also in Richmond County scouting news, there are two units that have been registered for over 20 years, said Sisk. Troop 64 has been in existence for 64 years and troop 527 which has been around for 28 years, Sisk added.
“We’re growing more and more everyday,” Sisk said of local scouts. “Scouting is living and breathing very well in Richmond County. We’re building today’s youth for tomorrow’s leaders.”
Several other people also were recognized for their contribution to local Boy Scout troops. Lori Craddock was honored as Scoutmaster/Assistant Scoutmaster of the Year. Brandi White Covington earned Cubmaster/Assistant Cubmaster of the Year. Patricia Giuliaro earned the Webelos/Den Leader Award. Jamie Gerald was named Scouter of the Year. Toni Maples was named District Committee Member of the Year and Chad Allen Reier was named Assistant Unit Commissioner of the Year.