Scouting grows, seeks volunteers

Sandra ClarkFeature, Halls

With new troops forming and participation growing, adult volunteers are needed to accommodate the new members and programs of the Great Smoky Mountain Council BSA. David Williams, who heads the 21-county council, is especially interested in drawing former Scouts back into leadership roles. Numbers are up all over, but the growth is 30 percent in the Echota district (North Knox and Union County) where Steve Petrone is district chair.

Williams oversees some 3,200 volunteer leaders and 10,000 Scouts in 11 districts.

This fall, Cub Scout packs were opened to girls. Williams said in today’s world, young men need to learn to work with women. At the direction of the chartering organization (generally a church), the packs can be all-boys, all-girls or blended. Williams said 80 percent of chartering organizations in the Great Smoky Mountain Council opted for the inclusive family packs.

“Family Scouting is meant to meet today’s families where they are,” he said, talking about the logistics of kids heading in opposite directions for after-school activities.

Scouting includes the traditional hiking and camping, but it’s so much more. The STEM program was piloted in Knoxville and then launched nationally. It’s open to boys and girls in grades 3-12. There are two competitive sailing packs for Cub Scouts, one in Knoxville and another in Athens, Tenn.

Learn more about Scouting – how to find a pack or troop – programs offered – and how to volunteer here.

Williams has worked in Scouting for 21 years. A Memphis native, he began his Scouting career as a district executive at the Middle Tennessee Council in Nashville. He moved through the ranks there, and later became the deputy Scout executive of Circle Ten Council in Dallas.

He jumped at the chance to return to Tennessee as head of the Great Smoky Mountain Council in 2015.

His wife, Amy, is a Venturing Crew advisor; both their son and daughter are Scouts. Williams is an Eagle Scout and credits the program with helping shape him. “Scouting taught me skills and gave me self-confidence and focus in a way that has helped me my entire life: as a student, serving in the Armed Forces, as a professional and perhaps most importantly, as a father. I want to help instill those values in others,” he said in a release when hired.

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