Mississippi Boy Scout Troop 2 in Picayune was chartered in 1919 and has been continuously chartered since then, the oldest troop in Pearl River County and nearly the state. The active troop takes its members on camping trips and field trips to assist them in learning more about the possibilities in the world. They are currently planning a trip to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico to benefit the Boy Scouts and Venture Scouts of the troop.
The group recently doubled in size when another troop in the area gave up its charter and the members moved over to Troop 2, leaving it the only troop in Picayune.
On Friday evening, February 19, the newly enlarged chapter hosted “A Night with Fred Haise” as a fundraiser toward the trip. The Apollo 13 astronaut, a Mississippian by birth, now lives on the Gulf Coast.
Displays of scouting activity surrounded the Pittman Family Life Center of Picayune First United Methodist Church, showing the many directions a Scout can travel on the road toward life choices.
The evening began with a welcome by Scoutmaster Keith Kingrey. He showed a video about scouting which included archival footage of Lieutenant General Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell, the British baron who founded The Boy Scouts Association. A second video included information on the benefits of the program, with statistical comparisons of increased life skills for Scouts versus non-Scouts.
Assistant Scoutmaster Lud Pierce described the Silent Auction process, an additional fundraising activity which offered more than thirty items. The auction included autographed photos of Fred Haise and other donated items.
Opening prayer was delivered by Rev. Harold Manning, pastor of Picayune FUMC, the sponsoring organization for Troop 2. He was assisted by Orion Cosme, the troop’s Chaplain Aide. Pastor Manning included an invitation to all of the attendees to visit FUMC on Sunday, February 21 for an observation of Scout Sunday.
BSA Executive Mr. Casey Norwood spoke on the Pine Burr Area Council which includes Troop 2. He spoke of the importance of volunteers in the program and related his own experiences as Cub Scout and Boy Scout.
Just before the meal, Kingrey introduced Cubmaster Eljie Bennett to discuss the Cub Scout program of the troop. Cubs range in age from seven to ten years old and work their way up through levels of Tiger, Wolf, Bear and Webelos, before moving up to the Boy Scout program.
Following the meal, John Wilson, Director of the Infinity Science Center in Pearlington, MS, took to the podium to introduce the evening’s main event, Apollo 13 astronaut Fred Haise. As Haise enthralled the audience with tales of his background as a test pilot, his adventures in NASA and his life after space travel, he proved himself a charming speaker and excellent instructor. He received a standing ovation at the end of his program.
Troop 2 presented Haise with a special poster, autographed by the members of the troop as a thank you for his contribution to the evening. More than 150 people attended the dinner program with the proceeds going to benefit Troop 2. The Silent Auction raised over $1400 to add to the total amount toward Philmont. Dinner proceeds are being tallied.