Boy Scouts honor longtime leader

September 26, 2009|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI

SHARPSBURG -- Tom Settle doesn't believe there is such a thing as a bad kid.

"I get tired of hearing people saying, 'Oh, kids today are juvenile delinquents,'" Settle said. "It's not juvenile delinquents. It's juvenile parents."

Adults need to model responsibility to children, Settle said. And he has spent his adult life -- 50 years of it -- doing just that.

Following a boyhood of Scouting, Settle, 71, of Martinsburg, W.Va., dedicated himself to serving in leadership roles.

"Well, Scouting has been very good to me, so in turn, I like to give back to young people," Settle said.


To give back to Settle, Boy Scout Troop 51 planted a tree in his honor Saturday at Camp Melrose in Sharpsburg. Members of the troop began the ceremony with the Pledge of Allegiance. They followed with the Boy Scout pledge, then proceeded to plant a 15-foot pin oak on the lawn of the camp.

"I'm thrilled to death," Settle said. "I wasn't expecting anything like this."

The Rev. Steven McCarty, pastor of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Sharpsburg, remembered when Settle served as his Scoutmaster. He said Settle was "a very fine gentleman."

"The vitality in this tree shows Tom Settle's strength and vitality in raising up boys to become good men," McCarty said. "He would take boys who came from unstable families and turn them around."

Settle said one of his favorite memories of serving as a leader in the Boy Scouts revolved around a trip to the New York World's Fair in 1964. He said he was lucky enough to take 36 boys from the Mason-Dixon Council of the Boy Scouts of America to work in service groups to put up flags at the event.

"Every day, we had to check in at headquarters," Settle said. "One day, they said, 'We have a special visitor today.' It was the secretary of Sir Winston Churchill, and I escorted his secretary around the fair."

Settle said people often ask him why he continues to lead Boy Scouts when he doesn't have any children or grandchildren in the troops.

"I tell them, 'If I can take one boy and involve him in Scouting, he will have a lifetime of memories,'" Settle said. "And I like to see young boys in troops, at 11 years old, and watch 'em grow. They mature very slowly, but then they become fine young men."

Troop Committee Chairman Greg Carroll said Settle has taught him a lot.

"He has been active in times of hardship and in times of ill health," Carroll said. "I am inspired by his work with the boys."

Carroll said it seemed like a perfect time to honor Settle. He has been serving as a leader for 50 years, and the Boy Scouts in the United States will celebrate their 100th anniversary next February.

"He's been here half of that," Carroll said.

Though Settle had a stroke just two months ago, he is helping members of the troop work toward a personal management merit badge.

Boy Scout Bradley Benedum, 17, of Sharpsburg, said of Settle, "He really cares and he puts a lot of his time in. It's surprising because you don't see that a lot."

Settle said his top priority is to teach the boys "the love of God," then Scouting.

"There is a place in this world for every boy. In Scouts, you have a place," Settle said. "Boys, believe me, I love it and I always will."

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