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Kiwanis Club Updates Scout Hut

The Kiwanis Club of Vidalia has supported Boy Scout Troop 933 since the creation of the club in 1919, and has taken Boy Scout Troop 933 Scout Hut as their centennial project within the community.

“The Kiwanis Club has always been a friend to Troop 933 because of their similar focuses on community,” Project Chair Tony Brooks explained. “To me, the two organizations really value the same things. That is why it just seemed natural for the Scout Hut to be the Club’s centennial project.” Brooks shared that the Scout Hut, located at the Ed Smith Complex in Vidalia, is the third location for the Boy Scout Troop since it first began, and has not been renovated since its construction in 1995. “In over 25 years, very little, if any, repairs and maintenance have been needed,” he said. “But age and use do eventually lead to disrepair, which we certainly want to avoid.” The Club members raised money through donations to complete the $25,000 project. A new metal roof was installed on the structure, which Brooks said he feels “really enhanced the appearance of the hut and should last far into the future.” A new HVAC unit, minor repairs to woodwork, painting, and removal of shrubbery were also completed for the facility. “The hut was constructed by the Kiwanis Club almost 30 years ago and has had no major work done on it since,” he further emphasized. “We thought the timing was perfect for our centennial project.”

History of Troop 933

Three individuals active in scouting, known as Pioneer Scouts, were residing in Vidalia and “lone scouting” with an adult advisor in 1918. These scouts brought an interest in scouting to the area, which led to the creation of the first Boy Scout Troop in Vidalia in February of 1919.

Vidalia Collegiate Institute (now Vidalia High School) Superintendent Walter Lee Downs served as the area’s first scoutmaster at age 34. Downs had experience with leading a scouting troop, as he had served as the Scoutmaster of a Boy Scout troop in Watkinsville, Georgia, and was even noted as being one of the very first Scoutmasters in the United States.

It is also rumored that National Boy Scout Leader Daniel C. Beard came to Vidalia to help get the troop started during his tours of the country, during which he spent years traveling to promote scouting and plant new troops.

This first troop had ten boy scouts, which current Troop 933 Scoutmaster Brett Copeland says is the “comfort amount” that the troop tries to keep today. Vidalia Public Schools served as the Chartered Organization from the creation of the troop until 1928, but the Kiwanis Club also helped to sponsor and support the troop even then. In 1929, under the leadership of Kiwanis Club Member and Scoutmaster Downs, the local troop became officially sponsored by the Vidalia Kiwanis Club as the Chartered Organization.

Since then, the troop has been through many scoutmasters and designations, as it was known as Troop 1 from 1919 until 1925, Troop 68 in 1926, Troop 33 from 1927 until 1955, and Troop 333 from 1956 until 1960. However, since 1961, Vidalia’s Boy Scout Troop has been known as Troop 933.

Scout Huts Through The Years Troop 933 had three scout huts which served as “home” for the local branch of the organization since its creation in 1919. The first location was built after the troop conceived the idea of their own continued from page

scout hut while on a camping trip on the Apalachee River in 1919. The boys worked to make money to fund the construction, and the structure – a wooden frame house located on the east side of Church Street between 5th and 6th Streets – was built that same year. The original building was torn down, but currently serves as the site of the Mc-Natt, Greene and Thompson Law Offices.

The first scout hut lasted the troop 41 years before a new facility was needed. The Kiwanis Club of Vidalia located Quonset metal huts in Camp LeJune, North Carolina, and bought 6 of these structures in 1960. They had the buildings taken apart and brought back to Vidalia, which they donated to troops in Reidsville, Claxton, Brooklet, Metter, and Vidalia. Vidalia City Council allowed Troop 933 to erect their Quonset on city property at the corner of Winona and 5th Streets.

According to Former Kiwanis Club of Vidalia President Carl Cannon, those buildings cost the Club a total of $800 that year, which accounted for almost all of the Club’s funds.

That Quonset Hut served as the base location for Troop 933 until 1993, when the Troop was revitalized and rapidly expanded. Upon recognizing that the old hut had become dilapidated and unusable, Troop Committee Chairman Matt Oxley worked to come up with ways to get a new hut.

A “dawn ‘til dark” marathon was held on November 5, 1994, with the help of over 100 volunteers. The Sweet Onion Classic golf tournament donated $25,000 to the project, American Legion gave $5,000 for the construction, and numerous other goods and services were donated by Vidalia citizens. With these donations, along with the many of hours of work by Kiwanians and others, the new scout hut was built in its current location.

The Scouts moved into this hut and held their first meeting on January 28, 1995.

Troop 933 Today

Today, Troop 933 continues to meet monthly at the scout hut at Ed Smith Complex, and has 10 total scouts, including one Life Scout, who recently completed his Eagle Project.

According to current Troop Committee Chairman Ken Whitson and Scoutmaster Brett Copeland, Troop 933 engages in a number of activities, from scouting in the wilderness to volunteering and civic participation. “Every year, we help the local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and Ladies’ Auxiliary to put flags and wreaths on graves of fallen soldiers for holidays,” Copeland shared. “We also are the local resource for flag retirement. We have a collection box for old flags at Vidalia Fire Station 1, and flags may be taken there to be properly retired.”

The men say that the group also attends yearly summer camps, including a national camp in North Carolina.

“We hope to continue to help Troop 933 thrive and help young boys continue to love the outdoors and their community,” Whitson explained. “We are grateful to the Kiwanis Club of Vidalia for always supporting us, and we truly appreciate what you all have most recently done for our Scout Hut.”

IMPACTING YOUTH – According to Scoutmaster Brett Copeland (left), one of the best parts of the Boy Scouts of America organization is the positive impact the program has on youth. Troop 933 has seen a great deal of success from the youth who have gone through the program, including current Life Scout Adam Copeland (right) who recently finished his Eagle Project. Here, Copeland addresses the Kiwanis Club of Vidalia about his project.Photo by Makaylee Randolph

NEW ROOF – Among the much-needed updates to the Boy Scout Hut at the Ed Smith Complex was the installation of a new metal roof, which was completed as a part of the Kiwanis Club of Vidalia Centennial Project.

GRATEFUL TO KIWANIS – Boy Scout Troop 933 attended the weekly meeting of the Kiwanis Club of Vidalia on June 7 to thank the organization for their work on the Scout Hut. Troop Committee Chairman Ken Whitson also informed the Club of the Troop’s goals for the future.Photo by Makaylee Randolph

KIWANIS SUPPORTED – Boy Scout Troop 933 is sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Vidalia, which serves as its official chartered organization. The Club built a Scout Hut at the Ed Smith Complex in Vidalia for the Troop in 1995, whichthe Scouts still meet in today.Photo by Makaylee Randolph

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