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Two WV Boy Scout councils merge

By Marcus Constantino, Multimedia reporter

Two West Virginia councils of the Boy Scouts of America merged together on July 1, a move scouting officials say will bring greater opportunities to scouts in West Virginia and surrounding states.

Volunteer leaders of the Buckskin Council and Tri-State Area Council voted to merge the two councils to form an expanded Buckskin Council. The expanded council officially launched on July 1.

Mark Chandler, president of the newly-combined Buckskin Council, said the change will help further the Boy Scouts goal of strengthening families and serving communities.

“The new Buckskin Council is well-positioned to help young people grow into confident and strong adults,” Chandler said. “This consolidation is an exciting step in helping to further our goal of securing a long-term role in positively shaping young lives in the communities we serve.”

The Daily Mail reported in April that negotiations to merge the two councils began in mid-January. John R. Van Horn, president of the Huntington-based Tri-State Area Council and vice president of collaborations for the newly-combined council, told the Daily Mail at the time that his council was “financially solvent,” but that it was missing two key staff members and struggled with a sharp decline in fundraising monies he attributed to the controversy surrounding the Boy Scouts of America’s decision to lift its ban on openly-gay scouts.

“A lot of the focus has been on the membership issue,” Van Horn told the Daily Mail in April. “It seems like (publicity is) always something that’s not positive and there’s an awful lot of positive that goes on in the Boy Scouts. A larger council is a bigger gorilla and a lot of people will pay attention to it. With more of a presence, we can make our positive message rise above the mistakes that are made here and there.”

VanHorn said the merger is largely administrative and will not negatively affect any scouts. He said the merger will open up new opportunities for camping and outdoor activities to scouts in the newly-combined council.

For instance, VanHorn said camps and other activities that were once exclusive to Scouts in the Buckskin Council or the Tri-State Area Council will be available to all Scouts in the merged council, and scouts will have more opportunities to participate in the camps and activities. The combined council will also have access to the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in Fayette County; more than 200 scouts from the two councils went to the inaugural National Boy Scout Jamboree in 2013.

The expanded Buckskin Council includes nearly 2,000 Scouts from the former Tri-State Area Council in parts of West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio, along with around 5,000 Scouts that were already in the Buckskin Council in West Virginia, and parts of Virginia and Kentucky.

Contact writer Marcus Constantino at 304-348-1796 or marcus.c@dailymailwv.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/amtino.


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