A SCOUT’S LIFE

The Covington News - - Front page - GABRIEL KHOULI gkhouli@cov­news.com

Jerry Aldridge loves teach­ing and few in New­ton County have helped as many boys de­velop into young men as the for­mer ed­u­ca­tor and cur­rent scout­mas­ter.

Aldridge re­cently reached a Boy Scouts mile­stone when 16-year-old Noah Green be­came the 50th scout to reach the pin­na­cle of Ea­gle Scout un­der Aldridge’s tute­lage.

Aldridge took his first scouts train­ing course in the April of 1964 and has been in­volved ever since at var­i­ous lev­els and in var­i­ous po­si­tions. He be­came scout­mas­ter of lo­cal Troop 222 in 1989.

“I sort of set that goal a long time ago, and I thought maybe I might make it. But now I’ve made it, and some­body asked me if go­ing to set a new goal of 75. I said no, 60. Then if I get 60, then I’ll set a goal of 65,” Aldridge said, smil­ing.

“Be­ing an ed­u­ca­tor, I al­ways liked to see young peo­ple grow. Now I’m no longer an ed­u­ca­tor, so I see them grow through scout­ing,” Aldridge said. “It makes me feel great to watch kids come in who can

do noth­ing and don’t know noth­ing about scout skills. And when they leave at 18, they’re ac­com­plished young men and they know the skills. They’re go­ing to be good cit­i­zens and that in it­self is ful­fill­ing to me.”

While he’s had 50 Ea­gle Scouts, he’s seen hun­dreds of young men go through his troop. Green was an ap­pro­pri­ate choice to be the 50th Ea­gle Scout, con­sid­er­ing his older brother, Parker, earned the honor last year, and the Greens have three more boys com­ing through af­ter Noah.

Green’s project was to build an in­for­ma­tion kiosk at the en­trance of the Ge­or­gia Wildlife Fed­er­a­tion’s prop­erty off East End Road in Cov­ing­ton. He had to or­ga­nize ef­forts to clear the area for the kiosk, build a foun­da­tion us­ing only na­tive rocks and mor­tar and build the wooden frames for the in­for­ma­tion signs.

The project took a few months and cost around $1,200, Green said.

“Yeah, proud,” Green said when asked a lead­ing ques­tion about he felt about the project. He’s not a very talk­a­tive boy. “The hard­est part was get­ting all the rocks. It was a lot of rocks.”

Green’s project was a con­tin­u­a­tion of scouts’ ef­forts in re­cent years to de­velop the 16-acre prop­erty into us­able wildlife space. When the Ge­or­gia Wildlife Fed­er­a­tion pur­chased the land, it was just a wooded dump­ing site and a “place for drink­ing and other things,” Aldridge said.

First, the lo­cal troop cre­ated a park­ing lot, clear­ing out the shrubs in a con­ve­nient ac­cess point off East End Road. Then, fel­low Ea­gle Scout Kevin Thomp­son built a trail through the woods, and Green built a kiosk to dis­play in­for­ma­tion about lo­cal wildlife and the wet­lands around the Al­covy River. Other ef­forts have led to a small class­room be­ing built on the prop­erty along with a ca­noe put-in on the river.

Aldridge has seen more than three decades of such projects come to life across New­ton County, beau­ti­fy­ing parks, schools, busi­nesses, churches and out­door wildlife cen­ters. His ded­i­ca­tion and pas­sion for scout­ing bleed over to his students.

“When Jerry con­ducts a scout meet­ing and holds his hand up and gives the Scout pledge and Scout law, I think that’s what he lives. I think those boys saw it in the way he con­ducted him­self and the way he con­ducted his life,” said Denny Dobbs, who has been in­volved for scout­ing for many years and had two sons be­come Ea­gle Scouts un­der Aldridge. “He taught them why it’s im­por­tant to do things the right way and to fol­low the rules…they learned so much about team­work and prepa­ra­tion and be­ing or­ga­nized.

“Luke will be 24, Lane just turned 20, and to this day, they call them Mr. A and Mrs. A. If they see him, they will speak to him. The care and con­cern he had for all those boys and their suc­cesses came through in those ac­tions, the way he did things. I can’t thank him enough for that.”

As for Mrs. A, also known as Lee Aldridge, peo­ple can’t men­tion Jerry with­out men­tion­ing Lee who is re­spon­si­ble for track­ing and pre­par­ing all of the pa­per­work for the Ea­gle Scout process. She also gives some of the scouts a friendly, lit­tle nudge if they’re pro­cras­ti­nat­ing.

“I’ve known Jerry since he came to town, and I’ve also known his wife Lee who helps him tremen­dously too with get­ting the pa­per­work pro­cessed for the boys,” said Sam Ram­sey, who’s also been in­volved in scout­ing for a life­time. “She was in my class in school; I’ve known her all my life. They’re a fine cou­ple; we’re for­tu­nate to have them.”

From his first Ea­gle Scout, Luke Gre­gory, to his lat­est, Noah Green, Aldridge has al­ways kept his fo­cus on the boys, and he has no plans to let up too soon as he has an­other prospec­tive Ea­gle Scouts in the queue.

“We get boys who come in and get en­thused when they see other peo­ple do their Ea­gle projects and say ‘I’ll do mine.’ See­ing Ea­gle Scouts en­cour­ages oth­ers to do that too,” Aldridge said.

Gabriel Khouli

Noah Green, 16, stands in front of a kiosk, his Ea­gle Project, along with Scout­mas­ter Jerry Aldridge.

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