PAWCATUCK — Dressed in his Cub Scout uniform, Liam Young knows he looks exactly like the picture of his great-grandfather, Thomas Benton Young Jr., an Eagle Scout who attended the first national Scout Jamboree on the National Mall in 1937.
“It inspires me quite a lot and I hope it inspires my brother and future generations to come,” said Liam, 9.
Gathering at the Boy Scout Troop 9 meeting at Pawcatuck Middle School on Wednesday, Liam and his brother, Benjamin, 14, had brought their great-grandfather’s Scouting sash, his Eagle Scout award and his neckerchief from the jamboree that was attended by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Joining the brothers was their father, Thomas Benton Young IV, 44, of Mystic, who goes by “Benton.” He was a Boy Scout for four years as a teenager and has been involved in local packs and troops for nearly 10 years, including as a leader of Pack 9. St. Michael the Archangel Church in Pawcatuck has chartered Troop 9 since 1920 and also sponsors Pack 9.
“Scouting is deep in my blood. going back with my family, going back to my grandfather and my father,” Benton said.
He said his grandfather became involved with Scouting in 1927 in South Carolina, where the family lived, and the tradition was passed to his father, Thomas Benton Young III, who moved to Mystic as an adult to work at Pfizer.
“Dad was a leader when I was Boy Scout in Troop 76 Mystic in the late 1980s,” said Benton. “I had a great time there and it inspired me to continue it. I hoped someday I’d have a boy and sure enough I had two.”
Benton said his grandfather started in Scouting around 1927, which was three years before the Cub Scouts were officially established.
“Back then it was just Boy Scouts, there wasn’t Cub Scouts, so he started when he was 8 or so and worked his way up and made his Eagle Scout by the time he was 13 years old — back then it was different,” Benton said. “He was an assistant for his troop when he was 13. You grew up quicker back then, took on responsibilities a little sooner.”
The Boy Scouts of America was founded on February 8, 1910, and was modeled on the Boy Scout Association established in Britain by Lt. Gen. Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell in 1908.
Benton said his grandfather’s Scouting sash and other memorabilia had been passed down from his grandmother along with his grandfather’s handwritten list of the names of his 43 merit badges.
Originally, the Boy Scouts had 57 merit badges, and of the badges that are still active, Thomas Benton Young Jr. earned those for Archery, Athletics, Bugling, Camping, Cooking, Electricity (originally called Electrician), Firemanship (now called Fire Safety), First Aid, Forestry, Horsemanship, Leatherwork, Lifesaving, Bird Study, Painting, Personal Health, Public Health and Swimming.
Of the original 57 badges that have been discontinued, Young earned those for Automobiling, Carpentry, Conservation, Dairying, and Poultry Farming. In addition, he earned other badges that have also been discontinued: Reading, Farm Home Planning, Farm Building Arrangement, and Farm Recordkeeping, among others.
Studying his great-grandfather’s sash and merit badges, Benjamin said he wanted to become an Eagle Scout to honor the family legacy. He was wearing his Order of the Arrow sash, identifying him as a member of the National Honor Society of the Boy Scouts of America.
“I want to start the trend up again for our family and bring the tradition forward from my great-grandfather,” he said. “It means a lot to me that our family has been involved in the program like this for so long because it shows that we have the values that built into the program.”
Benjamin, who is a freshman at Ella T. Grasso Southeastern Technical High School, is now a Life Scout and will earn his Eagle Scout rank by the end of 2019.
Liam, a fourth-grader at Deans Mill Elementary School, has been in Cub Scouts since he was in first grade. He said he was on board with Benjamin’s plan.
“I think I’m going to cross over into Boy Scouts next year, in fifth grade,” Liam said. “I want to work all the way through to be an Eagle Scout.”