Members of the Cleburne Friends of Scouting and the Longhorn Council Boy Scouts of America plan to honor Cleburne businessman Lowell “Stretch” Smith Jr. during their annual Scouting Supporter Breakfast.
The breakfast is at 7:30 a.m. Thursday at the Cleburne Conference Center at 1501 W. Henderson St.
“Stretch seemed the perfect choice,” said Paul Verwers, Longhorn Council district executive. “Each year we look for someone we believe really deserves the honor and Stretch’s support of not just Scouting but so many other programs and fellowships and donations through the years really show the big impact he’s had on the community. He’s a pretty humble fellow, but we finally got him to accept and are very happy to be honoring him.”
Smith on Tuesday said he looks forward to this year’s breakfast and appreciates the “very gracious” gesture.
“Oh, I don’t really deserve any attention,” Smith said. “But I’m happy to help the Boy Scouts out any way I can. I’ve always thought it was a wonderful organization and we have a lot of great and dedicated people here in the county working to set a good example for our young men.”
Stretch said he briefly joined the Boy Scouts as a youth.
“Of course, that was a long time ago in the rural county,” Smith said. “I was in it for a short time but can’t say I did much with it.”
Smith said his tenure was short lived more because of lack of organization and lack of members at that time in Rio Vista than because of lack of interest on his part. Short lived though his time in the Scouts may have been, Smith said he still remembers several camping trips and other Scouting activities with fondness.
The more the merrier
Although the annual breakfast serves as a fundraiser, Verwers stressed that the event is free and urged residents to attend simply to show their support for Scouting, or to get involved.
“I think it’s a good event to remind adults and parents, many of them were maybe in scouts themselves when they were young, about the opportunities of Scouting for their sons,” Verwers said. “And it gives us an opportunity to share a little bit about what Scouting is, what it does and how it improves the community. We’re also always looking to get people on board and involved, former Scouts and parents with Scouts, but also other folks who might have certain skills and want to get involved in some way.”
Terry Kelley, event chairman for the breakfast, agreed.
“Scouting offers good programs and leaders who support our youth in helping them grow and make the right decisions in life,” Kelley said. “And who help build and shape the characters of our strong leaders of tomorrow. The Friends of Scouting annual breakfasts provide about one third of the Longhorn Council’s revenues to keep our Scouting program’s going and, in order to sustain Cleburne’s Santa Fe District scouts, we need the support of the community.”
The breakfast provides the main fundraiser for Scouting in the area. Johnson County contains about 10 troops with about 600 members. Area support of scouting remains strong, Verwers said, and membership is “fairly strong” and improving, but the goal remains to increase membership and Scout presence in the community.
“We’ve seen scouts more and more in parades, and that’s the goal to have them in the communities more doing projects, picking up litter and things like that where the community gets to see them.”
Funds raised go toward renovations and improvements of area summer camps in addition to training and other Scouting programs.
If you are interested in working with the Boy Scouts, contact Verwers at 817-228-0208 or by email at email@example.com.