Bradenton Kiwanis, Manatee Boy Scouts, have a 90-year history

MANATEE -- Like hundreds of other boys who lived in Manatee County in the 1970s, Byron and Tyrone Shinn wanted to be Boy Scouts because they heard all the stories about high adventure, including camping, hiking and shooting a bow and arrow.

The two men say they didn't realize when they started as Cub Scouts at age 8 they would also get a primer on being good citizens.

"We were led by these incredible men who focused on integrity and moral values and they all had either their own business or were leading larger businesses," said Byron Shinn, now 57 and a Bradenton certified public accountant.

His father, Jack Shinn of Palmetto Savings & Loan, Les Morris of Morris Pest Control; Dr. Bill King, a dentist; Bill Thompson of Thompson Orthodontics; Paul Caruso of Caruso Concrete Stain; and Charles Martin were among the scout leaders at the time.

"These guys taught us core values," Shinn said. "From when we were age 8 to 17, a time when we were very susceptible to the whims of society, they were a beacon of light."

Byron Shinn is no longer in scouting, but he has been a member of the Bradenton Kiwanis Club since 1983, an organization involved with Manatee County scouting for 90 years. Shinn said he believes Kiwanis mirrors the goals of scouting.

The Bradenton Kiwanis Club will receive the Good Scout Award on Saturday from The Boy Scouts of Manatee County during the fifth annual Manatee County Distinguished Citizen "Good Scout" Award Dinner at Manatee Performing Arts Center, 502 Third

Ave. W., Bradenton.

In addition to the award presentation to Judge Edward Nicholas, president of Bradenton Kiwanis, there will be a video of Kiwanis history and music by students of the Del Couch Music Education Foundation, said Judge Gilbert Smith Jr., district chairman for the Manatee County Boy Scouts.

"Today, Kiwanis and the Boy Scouts of America are part of the two largest youth service programs in the world," said Col. B.J. "Red Dog" Maynard, Manatee County Boy Scout historian. "Both organizations offer programs to empower elementary school students, tweens and teens to make an impact through service and leadership. By working together, both organizations achieve what one person cannot accomplish alone."

Combined history

Since 1925, when Boy Scouts established a Manatee County council, the Bradenton Kiwanis Club has been a loyal supporter, helping establish and maintain the iconic Camp Flying Eagle on the Manatee River, Maynard said.

"Since Kiwanis' inception, its theme has been that young children are priority No. 1," Nicholas said. "There is a natural fit between Kiwanis and Boy Scouts."

The Bradenton Kiwanis Club sponsors four "K Kids Clubs," for elementary school children, Nicholas said.

"We try to inspire fifth-graders at Miller, Palma Sola, Stewart and Samoset elementary schools to give back to their schools and communities," Nicholas said. "We help them see that giving back to others is not only a good thing to do, but fun. We provide them money to help their efforts. They go to nursing homes and gather can goods for holiday gift baskets and organize teacher appreciation days."

The Bradenton Kiwanis Club also sponsors programs called Builder's Clubs at King and Bradenton Christian middle schools, Nicholas said. The club also sponsors Key Clubs at Manatee and Bradenton Christian high schools.

In 2008, the Bradenton Kiwanis Club selected Camp Flying Eagle as its anchor project for Better Manatee Day. A considerable number of Kiwanians spent the day that year painting facilities, trimming trails, and applying water seal to picnic tables, and seats in the amphitheater and outdoor chapel at Camp Flying Eagle, Maynard said. In addition, the Club funded $5,000 worth of materials to construct a horizontal climbing wall.

For this year's March 21 Better Manatee Day, the club is back at the camp, Nicholas said.

"We are going to be out there and we would love people handy with a hammer to help us with repairs and overall maintenance," Nicholas said. "The camp needs a lot of work and we have given them $15,000 for supplies. We need all hands on deck."

Volunteers are asked to call Jim Thielen at 941-776-9444 or 941-730-6313.