GLENS FALLS - Although the numbers of boys is involved in scouting is about even in recent years, the level of dedication in scouts and their leaders has advanced considerably, said Scott Hayden, district director of Twin Rivers Council, Boy Scouts of America.
There are 75 Scouting units in the Twin Rivers Council, and they're active in beneficial volunteer project and community service work - in addition to the camping and outdoor skills development associated with Boy Scouts, he said.
This trend of increased dedication is evident in the number of boys achieving Eagle Scout status, Hayden said. Decades ago, about 20 or so scouts would achieve this high rank in the Twin Rivers Council, and now this number ranges from 30 to 50.
In Troop 30 in the Chestertown-Brant Lake area alone, a total of five scouts are preparing this year to earn their Eagle Scout rank.
Hayden said many factors are key in the boosted involvement.
"Great leadership, good Scouts and a supportive community conducive to scouting are all important factors," he said. "Our mission is to instill our core values in young people so they can become better adults."
The result yields very positive effects for area communities, he said.
"The Scouts that are involved in the program are now staying in longer and achieving more," he said. "And their impact on community, through their service projects, is greater than ever.
The projects Eagle Scouts and troops are undertaking are increasingly more ambitious, he said, noting how in North Warren and Warrensburg areas, scouts have built large pavilions that will serve their communities for years to come.
Another shining example is the "Scouting for Food" annual food drive conducted by area Boy Scouts.
The 70-plus troops collect tens of thousands of food items each year, and the groceries collected are donated to local food pantries in the town where they are collected, Hayden said.
Observers have noted that during the recent economic downturn, food collections have thrived in rural areas despite the high level of prevailing unemployment.
Hayden deferred credit from the scouts to local citizens, particularly those of modest means.
"The high level of donations speaks very well not only of our Scouts and leaders who recognize this challenge, but to the communities we serve, that they are supporting their neighbors in this time of need."