BY O.J. EARLY
As General Sessions and Juvenile Court judge, Kenneth Bailey Jr. encounters plenty of youth who need positive direction in their lives.
"We see about 1,000 kids a year here in Juvenile Court in Greene County," said Bailey, who has held his position since 2002. "I rarely see Scouts."
Bailey was the keynote speaker at the Nolachuckey District Boy Scouts of America annual Friends of Scouting Breakfast, a gathering aimed at raising money for the local Scouting district.
The breakfast was held Tuesday morning in the Fellowship Hall of Asbury United Methodist Chuurch.
Program chairman Buddy Yonz welcomed those present, and District Executive Wes Miller talked briefly about the importance of funding the Boy Scouts.
How does the national organization enhance the lives of adolescent boys and teenagers?
It happens in three major ways, the judge said: Boy Scouts provide youth with the opportunity for involvement; participants encounter positive role models in Scout leaders; and Boy Scouts learn important skills for life.
As Juvenile Court judge, Bailey has spent time studying what keeps young people out of his courtroom. Active involvement in certain organizations, such as the Boy Scouts, is a sure way, he said.
"As more kids get involved, all statistics show that they are going to be less involved with the criminal justice system," he said.
When it comes to Scout leaders, Bailey related: "What an impression those folks have on the Scouts!
"So many kids are looking for positive role models from adults that they may not get from home. Scout leaders fill that need," he said.
Boy Scouts also gain critical skills for their future, such as self-confidence, time management and organization.
Bailey said that, for Scouts to advance, they must participate in many projects.
"I doubt all those projects go without any hitches," he said with a laugh.
As a result, Scouts learn to face problems head-on. Many children don't have the critical skill of coping and responding to a problem, Bailey added.
He summed up: "Scouting is alive and well in Greene County. We are blessed to have such an active Scouting community here."
Eagle Scout Dunkan Gibson agreed.
Gibson, a graduate of Greeneville High School and now a freshman at the University of Tennessee, said Scouting "helped shape the man I am today."
"I stayed in Scouting for longer than it was cool," he said. "Some said that I wouldn't reach the rank of Eagle Scout."
Gibson, who played on the state championship football teams at Greeneville High, said he plans to pursue a career either in law or law enforcement.
"I honestly believe that Scouting is the reason that I am where I am today," he said.
Here are statistics from 2013 for the Nolachuckey District, that covers Greene County, Hancock County, and part of Hawkins County
* 813 youth participated, either in Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts or Venturing;
* 33 active units are in the area;
* 13 Scouts achieved the rank of Eagle Scout;
* 553 merit badges were earned;
* more than 18,000 pounds of food was collected and
* Boy Scouts gave more than 4,500 hours of volunteer community service.