By Jonathan Williams
Times West Virginian
You might not know it, but there are more than a dozen Scout troops operating in Marion County.
Raising awareness and providing a fun educational opportunity for these kids is what motivated officials within the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America here in Marion County to start the Scout-A-Rama, an annual event hosted at the Middletown Mall coming up again this Saturday.
According to Ralph Herron, who works on the committee organizing the event, it’s easy for the Boy Scouts to fly under the radar.
“A lot of times they meet and the public isn’t aware,” he said.
The Scout-A-Rama began at the Woody Williams Armory on Mary Lou Retton Drive almost 50 years ago and moved to the Middletown Mall about 35 years back, so it’s not exactly a new event. This year, Herron said, they’ll have 13 units of Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts.
Each unit has prepared a booth they’ll present at the event.
“It’s a good learning experience for boys and girls to show what they’re working on during the year and interact with the public,” he said.
The troops (and in the case of the Cub Scouts, packs) each pick a theme they want to show the public and work to make a booth and presentation for the community coming out to the Scout-A-Rama.
“They prepare ahead of time,” Herron said, and it’s a big deal for the kids putting them together.
Many of these booths have a lot of time and effort put into them, he said.
“One time they just built a walkway, a garden-type thing that you walked through in part of the mall,” displaying landscape architecture.
Another year, a troop demonstrated cooking for the crowds, with lines forming for free hot dogs and donuts.
“Free food is always a good draw,” Herron said.
Other popular displays throughout the years have included star exhibits, which brought people “into a closed area that’s dark and they had pictures of stars you could look at like a night sky” and woodworking, displaying birdhouses and other projects the Scouts had made themselves.
“There’s been a lot of variety,” Herron said.
A contest will be conducted to see who has the nicest display. Judging is based on how well the Scouts engage the public and the quality of the exhibit or demonstration.
The Order of the Arrow dance team will also be performing at Scout-A-Rama, which he said is always a popular attraction. The performance is based on traditional Native American dance, so they’ll have drummers and dancers with full regalia to show people something a little different than they’re maybe used to seeing.
Other attractions include an extensive Boy Scout patch collection and a leadership booth providing information about how to get involved with a Scouting program in the area with applications and folks to answer questions.
Herron said it means a lot to the kids in the programs to have people come out and support them.
“Especially when they take the time to set up the booth and work there, they’d like for people to see what they've been doing,” he said.
Boy Scouts are currently selling Scout-A-Rama tickets both to earn a badge and to raise money for camp or other activities. A ticket isn’t required to come to the event, Herron said, but it does help the boys with what they’re doing.
The Scout-A-Rama will begin Saturday at the Middletown Mall at 10 a.m. and continue through 3 p.m. The Order of the Arrow dance team will perform at about 2:15 p.m.
Email Jonathan Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @JWilliamsTWV.