COLUMN: Molding young leaders

By EMILY SPARACINO / Staff Writer

Benches positioned near the trolley stops in Columbiana give residents places to sit while they wait for the next trolley to arrive. New benches and a pavilion at the old city cemetery provide places for visitors to gather. A gazebo in front of City Hall provides yet another shaded spot for people to congregate in nice weather.

These improvements are the results of several young people’s concern for their community and commitment to improving it.

Elijah Hockman, 17, is the person behind the benches at the trolley stops. Installing these benches to make certain areas more accessible to all residents constituted Hockman’s Eagle Scout project.

As a six-year member of Boy Scout Troop 560 in Columbiana, Hockman spoke about the impact scouting has had on his life at the 2020 Columbiana Mayor’s Breakfast benefitting Boy Scouts of the Shelby District on Thursday, March 5.

Social skills, friendships and a stronger sense of self-confidence in what he can do are among the benefits Hockman said he has enjoyed in his tenure as a scout.

“I have had some of my best formative experiences in scouts,” he said to those in attendance at the fundraising breakfast, including fellow members of Troop 560, members of other local troops, scoutmasters, parents and city and county officials.

Hockman wasn’t the only scout to contribute something during the breakfast. A younger scout rendered the invocation and several others presented the colors.

They attended the breakfast with the same willingness to serve that they display at other events throughout the year.

They exhibited the qualities laid out for them in the Scout Law—trustworthiness, loyalty, helpfulness, kindness and bravery, to name a few—which Hockman referred to in his speech.

In a period in their young lives when they could be doing many other things, these scouts are choosing to participate in character-building activities, learn lessons in leadership and dedicate their free time to serving others.

They are a testament to the adults who have first and foremost invested in them – their parents, scoutmasters, older siblings, youth pastors, coaches, etc. But they are also self-starters who should be commended for not just joining the Boy Scouts, but earning a place in their troops every time they don their uniform and tackle new challenges.

I hope the $6,750 in pledges collected at this year’s breakfast gives the organization momentum to continue providing this vital outlet for youth in our community.