The Boy Scouts of America has as its aim character building and citizenship training. With our own focus on forming good men and good citizens, Hampden-Sydney is the perfect host for the Merit Badge College Day. For the eighth consecutive year, the H-SC community came out in full force—in pouring rain—to support the event, from faculty and staff members to students and alumni.
With approximately 380 Scouts accompanied by 60 of their leaders in attendance, the 2019 Merit Badge College Day was H-SC’s largest to date. Truly a community-wide endeavor, the event was coordinated in part by 20 Hampden-Sydney student volunteers, led by student organizer and Eagle Scout Charlie Lemon '21, a biology major from Roanoke. Scott Schmolesky, director of high adventure at Hampden-Sydney and the coordinator of this year’s merit badge event, hopes to build upon the legacy established by Randy Reed '82, the College’s director of planned giving—an Eagle Scout himself and coordinator of H-SC’s first seven Merit Badge College Days. Says Schmolesky, “A lot of work and months of preparation go into planning a large event like this, and the information that Randy passed on to me has been invaluable.”
Merit badge courses led by Hampden-Sydney student, faculty, staff, and alumni experts ranged in topics from fire safety and fly-fishing to art and nuclear science. Scouts from the Heart of Virginia Council earned up to two merit badges chosen from a list of 17 programs during the day-long event.
But the Scouts weren’t the only ones to benefit. This year, adult scout leaders had the opportunity to attend a full-day wilderness survival seminar instructed by wilderness expert Will Frank '69, while multiple campus departments incorporated the Scouts into their weekend events as well. The Ferguson Career Center’s spring career fair featured a workshop on scouting and career networking: “How Non-profit and Scouting Experience Can Benefit Your Leadership.” And the Admissions Office hosted a prospective student weekend for Eagle Scouts complete with a “Big Game” dinner and an overnight stay with current Eagle Scout students.
Hampden-Sydney’s commitment to Boy Scouts of America does not end with Merit Badge College Day. H-SC not only welcomes students with a background in scouting, but it also offers a $5,000 scholarship per year ($20,000 over four years) to all accepted Eagle Scouts who attend the College. “We believe that Hampden-Sydney has among the highest percentages of Eagle Scouts of any college or university in the country at 11.1% of the student body,” said Anita Garland, dean of admissions.
The missions of both the Boy Scouts of America and Hampden-Sydney College align along a shared focus on character. Scouts are passionate about building character; Hampden-Sydney takes it from there and helps transform young men into adults who make a positive difference in the world. Featured last year on a boy scouting blog, Hampden-Sydney College President Larry Stimpert aptly made the case that “Hampden-Sydney is a perfect fit for Scouts pursuing higher education.” Truer than ever, indeed it is.