For retired Army Sergeant First Class and retired Lieutenant Fairfield County Sheriff’s Deputy Jimmy Joyner, a trip home on leave from his job working as a defense contractor in Afghanistan would not be complete without attending meetings with Boy Scout Troop 49.
Before taking an overseas assignment helping train Afghan police forces, Joyner, a former scoutmaster, left the troop in the capable hands of Scoutmaster Heath Costenbader and assistant leaders D.J. Wilson and Jay Joyner.
During the past two years, those leaders have helped add the merit badge extravaganza that has brought youth and scout leaders to Winnsboro from around the nation.
“That extravaganza is a good reflection on the volunteers we have now and our strong committee with good teamwork and leaders,” Joyner said.
Troop 49, which started back up in 2005, has since had six Eagle scouts since then. Three of the first seven boys to come through the rekindled troop earned the rank of Eagle, a far higher percentage that the less than one percent of boys who begin scouting and eventually make it. Part of the reason for that success is the encouragement of scout leaders who work with boys to get as many merit badges as they can while they are young because once high school starts, jobs, dating and sports compete more with scouting time making less time to earn badges.
Right now Troop 49 has around 15 scouts in it and averages six to eight boys per meeting. Scouts meet from 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m.on the first, second and fourth Thursday of each month. Joyner knows that often the parents of scouts serve in leadership capacities and then when their children outgrow scouting the parents leave the program with them. That’s why he said new adult leaders are always needed to step in and help keep scouting on its solid footing in Fairfield County.
“You don’t have to be a parent,” Joyner said. “Anyone can volunteer to help with scouts.”
He pointed out that camping now includes inflatable mattresses and cooking on portable stoves, so there is less roughing in that back in the day with scouting.
Volunteers have to pass the proper background checks and undergo training per the Boy Scouts of America. That training is one reason Joyner says the role of volunteers is so crucial. With new regulations, at least two adults must be with a child at a time and if the group continues to grow, as he hopes it will, more leaders will be needed to keep this momentum going. Since 2005 Troop 49 has completed two of the three scouting high adventure camps, Phlimot which is a backpacking camp in New Mexico and SeaBays, a ten-day fishing, skiing and scuba diving camp in the Florida keys.
Seven boys attended the national jamboree in 2010 to observe the 100th anniversary of scouting. On their most recent trip to SeaBays, boys became scuba certified in five days and spent three days diving off of reefs. Before the scouts got into the camps, one of the ways Joyner helped the group become reignited in 2005 was to connect scouting to another love of his life, horses. He invited youth and their parents to his home for camp outs and horseback riding. Eventually that camaraderie led to boys earning their horsemanship merit badges on Joyner’s property.
Though he resigned his position as scoutmaster when he took the job in Afghanistan, Joyner remains a scout at heart. From around the world, he provides support by email, offers to make phone calls for planning purposes and sends encouragement to the youth and the leaders alike. He also sends letters and can keep up with troop happenings on Facebook. Both of Joyner’s sons, Jay and Sam, are Eagle scouts and Jay helps as an assistant leader.
The elder Joyner likens scouting precision to that of a military unit.
“It takes discipline to be in scouts. Sometimes we lose kids because of that, but the Boy Scouts helps with teamwork and work ethic,” he said.
A Life Scout himself, he said it is worth it to all the boys who decide to stick with scouting and he hopes more youth in Fairfield County will take advantage of scouting.
“The troop is surviving now because of the unit now and what happens to keep it going strong. Scouting is not a one person job; the leadership would not happen without the help from around a dozen parents,” Joyner said.
He also mentioned the dedicated efforts of Laura Bost, treasurer, and Brad Douglas, committee chairman, at keeping the group going strong. Douglas and Wilson are limited at times because they also are sheriff’s deputies who may work weekends. With two adults needed at all times with a child, that absence can strain the group’s current capacity to take weekend camping trips or other outings.
“With a big volunteer pool, adults don’t have to go out with scouts every weekend,” Joyner said.
Joyner and some of the others revived Winnsboro scouting in 2000 by getting a Cub Scouts group started and in 2005 started a Boy Scout group, reconnecting to the history of Troop 49 which has been in existence since 1938.
Now, he and others like him, can pass along their passions and their work ethic to other young men through scouting. That support has inspired one scout to attempt to earn all of the scouting badges.
Joyner said that Boy Scouts helped prepare him for military service and for work in law enforcement.
“Scouting prepares you to challenge yourself so you can be mentally ready to do what you need to do,” he said. “Scouts gave me the ability to know that if you try hard you can do things and accomplish goals.”
A retired national guardsman with 21 years service as military police and he served as a sheriff’s deputy for 25 years, he currently is working as a police mentor for the U.S. Army as they train Afghan police.
“I am an outdoor person and have always enjoyed working with youth,” he said.
That includes time spent in Afghanistan villages talking to children and youth as well as youth ministry volunteer work at his church, Lebanon Presbyterian, too.
He thanked the Fairfield County community for supporting its youth by buying popcorn. Joyner said that popcorn sales help ensure the group has funding and equipment for local operations. Even so, there is another way persons could help out monetarily for the group
. If anyone would like to donate to Troop 49, there is a high adventure account that helps pay for 50 to 70 percent of each scout’s high adventure trip. Without that provision, it would have been cost prohibitive for Joyner’s boys to attend the camps years ago, so he is thankful that tool is still in place to enable Fairfield County scouts to have new adventures.