Photo: Bill Chaffin, a scouting ministry specialist from Virginia Annual Conference attends the 2010 National Scout Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia. He is wearing a BuzzKill shirt to support the drive for funds for Nothing But Nets. Jamboree participants raised $17,000 for the effort to eliminate malaria in several African nations.
RICHMOND, Va. –– Virginia Conference churches are discovering scouting as a way to reach young people in their communities.
That discovery is being led by 10 persons who have been certified as scouting ministry specialists by the General Commission on United Methodist Men.
Bill Chaffin, coordinator of scouting ministry in the Richmond District and assistant district commissioner for the Huguenot Trail District in the Heart of Virginia Council, was certified as the first specialist in the conference in May 2009.
For the past two years, Chaffin has led a national effort to provide back-packing New Testaments to Scouts on treks across the Sangre De Christo Mountains in New Mexico and paddling streams in Minnesota and Ontario. In an average year, the commission and the National Association of United Methodist Scouters (NAUMS) provide over 7,000 copies of New Testament, Proverbs and Psalms to Scouts attending the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico and Scouts participating in Northern Tier canoe trips.
For the past six years, Chaffin has also given copies of the pack-packing New Testament with special covers to many Eagle Scouts in troops chartered by UM congregations and UM Scouts in troops chartered by other organizations.
After serving as chairman of a Cub Scout Committee, Chaffin organized a Boy Scout troop with 13 Scouts, including his oldest son. The former life scout, patrol leader and member of the Order of the Arrow, then completed requirements for the Wood Badge Award, scouting’s premier training program.
Nine years ago he was recruited to serve as scouting coordinator for the Richmond District while he was attending a Virginia Conference UM Men weekend that annually includes a camporee attended by some 1,000 Scouts from throughout Virginia.
A recipient of a Cross & Flame Award and the District Award of Merit, Chaffin now encourages other churches to present similar awards to Scout leaders. He also helped organize a Bishop's Dinner for Scouting to encourage churches to charter Boy Scout troops or host other youth-serving groups. The event was attended by representatives from 80 churches.
Chaffin has traveled to Philmont Scout Ranch on three occasions –– once for training in religious emblems and twice to attend the UMC scouters' workshop. He also served on the staff for the United Methodist Church at the 2010 National Jamboree Camp at Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia.
A life member of the NAUMS, Chaffin has served as recording secretary of the board of directors, and he is in his second year as manager of the Bible project.
Chaffin also serves on the newly created Council Religious Emblems committee which supports God and Country study programs sponsored by the St. Louis-based Programs of Religious Activities with Youth (PRAY). The group also is developing programs to provide summer camp chaplains as well as training for chaplain aides. The committee is now considering plans for a number of other faith-based efforts such as a Ten Commandment Hike.
Chaffin was selected to serve as an at-large member of the Virginia Annual Conference, and he has submitted a proposal for scouting funds to Conference Common Table.
A political science graduate of the University of Richmond with a master’s degree in information systems management from Virginia Commonwealth University, Chaffin has two sons, one a senior at James Madison University, and the other, a high school senior now considering enrolling at the University of Virginia or Virginia Tech.
When asked about the scouting ministry specialist program Chaffin offered an analogy from his IT days saying that scouting information was now a “push release” instead of a “pull release.” He explained that formerly he had to search out information about Scouting. Now, as a SMS information is either sent to him electronically or by snail mail, often before the general public knows about it. He said webinars also supply valuable information that he may not have received if it were not for the SMS program.
If you would like more information about scouting ministry, contact Chaffin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other scouting ministry specialists in the Virginia Conference include: Robert Dixon, Ashland District (email@example.com; Ken Todd, Ashland District (Ken.Todd@frb.gov); Stephen Roberts, Farmville (firstname.lastname@example.org; Andrew Baker, Norfolk (email@example.com; Woody Gibson, Norfolk (firstname.lastname@example.org; Tammy Cahoon (email@example.com), Thomas McKee (firstname.lastname@example.org; Jason Gilleland, Winchester (email@example.com).
If you are interested in becoming a scouting ministry specialist, please contact LaNisha Sayles at the General Commission on United Methodist Men (615/620-7260) (LSayles@gcumm.org).