UM Men celebrate anniversary of Girl Scouts, award youth

May 1st, 2012


Photo: Boy Scouts Justin Jackson (left) and Ryan Wilson receive the United Methodist Church's Good Samaritan Award from Larry Coppock during the 2012 United Methodist General Conference in Tampa, Fla. Coppock is director of Scouting Ministries at the General Commission on United Methodist Men. A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.


TAMPA(UMNS) –– Among a series of celebrations, the 2012 General Conference marked the 100th birthday of the Girl Scouts, one of the youth-serving organizations coordinated by the General Commission on United Methodist Men.

It was appropriate to hold the birthday celebration inTampaas one of the first troops was organized in this city. In 1913, Jessamine Flowers Link started a troop at Hyde Park United Methodist Church in Tampa.

Since those early days, more than 50 million girls have been part of a Girl Scout troop and there are troops in more than 92 countries.

The denomination is the largest sponsor of Girl Scouts with over 127,000 girls meeting in 27,000 troops at United Methodist churches.

The denomination is also the second largest charter organization of Boy Scouts with over 370,000 scouts meeting in United Methodist churches.

“Let me assure you, United Methodist Men is very committed to resourcing local congregations, districts and annual conferences in multiple ways to expand both men’s ministries and scouting ministries,” said Gil Hanke, top staff executive of the General Commission on United Methodist Men. “Across the connection more than 200 people are serving as scouting ministry specialists and more are added each month.”

Good Samaritan Awards

The commission frequently honors youth who demonstrate the attributes of the Good Samaritan, and Hanke and Larry Coppock, commission staff executive for scouting, presented two awards.

When Justin Jackson was 17, he was driving his mother home from church when a van ran a stop sign and slammed into their vehicle. Although Justin wasn’t hurt, his mother injured her wrist. As Justin went to help her, he noticed flames rising from under the hood of the van. Justin ran to the van, dragged the woman driver out just before flames engulfed the vehicle.

Hanke presented a Good Samaritan Award to Jackson, an Eagle Scout and a member of a troop chartered to First United Methodist Church of Seffner, Fla.

Ryan Wilson is also an Eagle Scout, a rank achieved by only 5 percent of Scouts.

Ryan, 29, has Downs syndrome. Due to a serious heart condition, doctors told his parents he would not live past age 10 and would probably never be able to speak. They were wrong.

To become an Eagle Scout, a candidate must earn 21 merit badges; Ryan earned 28. He fired an arrow to pop a balloon 100 feet away for his archery badge and he hooked an 8-foot hammerhead shark while earning his fishing badge.

For his Eagle project, he built outdoor bleachers forFaithUnitedMethodistChurchinHudson,Fla.

Coppock presented Ryan with a Good Samaritan Award.