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Post #82 of Saluda is sponsor of Boy Scout troop

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Above, from left, are Millie Hampton, BSA District Membership Chairman; Karyn Bristow, Troop 345 Scoutmaster; Keith “Mac” McAuley, Commander of Legion Post 82; and Marvin “JR” VanBuskirk, serving as the charter organization representative between the Legion Post 82 and the BSA.

American Legion Post #82 of Saluda has partnered with Heart of Virginia Council, Boy Scouts of America (BSA), in bringing a new and unique program for boys in Middlesex as well as boys located in surrounding counties.

As of November 24, the American Legion became the chartering organization of Troop 345, which is under the direct leadership of Scoutmaster Karyn Bristow.

One of the objectives of the American Legion is to work with youth, and an agreement to support Scouting was voted on and approved at the first national convention of the American Legion held at Minneapolis, Minn., in 1919.

“Both of our organizations believe in a strong nation, strong families, strong communities, and service to others. The collaborative efforts between the two organizations have the potential to make a significant impact on our community as well as develop the leadership in our youth. Both organizations are very enthusiastic to have this opportunity to work together,” said Saluda Post Commander Keith McAuley.

Only a couple of weeks ago Bristow approached the BSA leadership just to “chat” about this idea. Little did she know that a troop would form so quickly. “The parents are almost as excited as the kids, and family development is a cornerstone of both the Boy Scouts and the American Legion,” she said.

This troop is known as an “Ability Awareness” Troop and is designed to bring the Scouting program to those young men that many times seem to be left out of main stream programs. While any boy of Scout age is encouraged to join, the primary focus of Troop 345 is to allow Scouts with moderate to severe disabilities the time and modifications or accommodations necessary to work on all Scouting activities including badge advancement.

Bristow is a special education teacher at Peasley Middle School in Gloucester.

At present, Troop 345 has eight new members. Several are from Gloucester and two are from King William County. However, a few families have expressed interest in Middlesex. The troop is open to all surrounding counties.

The leadership consists of adults with varying degrees of experience in the field. Many of the leaders already know some of the youth.

“It is a wonderful blessing to be able to work with such an enthusiastic group with many years of experience,” said Bristow. “I know most of the Scouts already, and am so happy to watch their excitement about Scouting. It is hard to get them to focus on anything else right now. I was not sure what to expect, but these boys already love Scouting. We were supposed to start meeting in January, but everyone wanted to start right away. I just love it!”

The first activity of Troop 345 will be participating in the Gloucester Christmas Parade on Saturday, December 6.

Meetings will take place twice a month on the first and third Mondays at the American Legion Post in Saluda.

Those interested in learning more, having a son join the program, or interested in volunteering time and talents to the program, contact Bristow at 804-854-4957.

posted 12.03.2008

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