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05-02-2019 Local Boy Scout troops spend weekend learning safety,  marksmanship, and respect at Colom

ON THE RANGE… Zach Kuehl, 13, watches an unidentified scout practices his sighting skills Saturday afternoon, while Chief Range Safety Officer Paul Adam of St. Joe provides guidance. (TCR photos by Kristy Noack)

Local Boy Scout troops spend weekend learning safety, marksmanship,

and respect at Coloma Rod & Gun Club

By Kristy Noack Area Boy Scout troops gathered last weekend at the Coloma Rod and Gun Club to camp out, become educated in firearms, bows, and safety, and to strengthen their relationships with their fellow scouts. Troops from Bangor, Coloma/Watervliet, Gobles, Lawrence, and St. Joe gathered together for the inaugural camp out and marksmanship event. After camping in tents on the grounds of the Club Friday evening, the youths participated in range and classroom time Saturday before a community dinner, a retired flag ceremony, and camp out in the snow. All campers dispersed Sunday morning in search of warmer temperatures at home. According to Bob Chaput, an Eagle Scout with almost 40 years of scouting experience, the goal of the weekend program was two-fold: education and safety.

SAFETY FIRST… Coloma Rod and Gun Club Range Master Charlie Kern, far right, instructs Collin Kerby, 11, and David Newman, 13, on the correct way to form and insert ear plugs prior to shooting. Kern owns Hug ‘Em and Squeeze ‘Em Firearms Training LLC and is a certified pistol, rifle, shotgun, and Concealed Pistol License instructor. Kerby and Newman are members of Troop 197 out of Lawrence.

The scouts learned about several different types of weapons as well as the different components that create the firearm. Scouts also learned they “are the main safety feature of that weapon,” Chaput said. “We teach them respect for the weapon. We teach them respect for each other.” Scouts were able to practice firing guns with live ammo as well as bows in an effort to perfect their marksmanship skills, all in the hopes of earning a merit badge. The process of earning a merit badge is not completed quickly. The scouts are given a workbook and, with additional instruction, complete exercises in the book. Then, it’s time for practical exercises taught by professionals or volunteers. Each scout receives a blue card for each merit badge they are trying to earn. Scout masters verify that all exercises are complete and, once all the requirements are met, the scout can earn the badge.

If a scout was unable to earn the badge over the weekend, they can take their blue card to any scout summer camp and complete the requirements. Kevin Needham, Assistant Scout Master of Troop 696 of Coloma/Watervliet, has plenty of scouting experience – and, for him, it’s a family affair. Needham has been involved with the troop for over 12 years and his son Cameron earned the rank of Eagle Scout last year. Needham enjoys scouting and all that it offers. “It’s more about turning things off and getting back outside,” he commented. Not only did the youngsters, who ranged in age from 11-17, spend time learning from instructors, they also spent time learning from each other. As one scout would practice his marksmanship, more were lined up watching, learning, and patiently waiting for their turn on the range. “I like to see the kids’ faces as they are having a good time,” Chaput said, as he smiled. “I want to pass [the love of scouting] on.” The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) was established in 1910. According to the BSA, over 2.4 million youth participated in scouting last year. Additionally, over one million adult volunteers assisted local groups. The BSA stated over 110 million Americans have participated in the program since its inception. Zach Kuehl, 13, an eighth-grader at Watervliet Middle School and member of Troop 696, was one of the local scouts at the Rod & Gun Club last weekend. “I like [scouting] because I get to be outdoors, do activities, camp, and meet new people,” he said. In addition to the marksmanship skills Kuehl was developing, he advised he has learned “how to tie knots, build certain structures, how to shoot. We go to summer camp and Mackinac Island.” On the island, scout troops dress in their uniforms and participate in activities at Fort Mackinac and “help people,” said Kuehl. There are 135 merit badges that can be earned by Boy Scouts. According to Kuehl, the most difficult badge he has earned “was swimming because you had to show proper technique,” he said. The younger scouts weren’t the only ones being educated. Needham considered the weekend a success, despite the snow. “It was a trial run and great learning experience. The boys are having a great time and that’s what we judge it by.” Another campout is being planned for August. The BSA is “always looking for kids,” shared Chaput. If you are interested in learning more about the mission of the BSA, please visit or contact a local troop for additional information.

GUEST SPEAKERS AT COLOMA LIONESS MEETING… Sue Matheny (left), Program Manager for the Berrien Community Foundation, and Lisa Cripps-Downey (right), President of the Foundation spoke at a recent Coloma Lioness meeting on the “Back to School” event planned for August 10, 2019.

Coloma Lioness involved in Back to School event held this coming August

Members of the Berrien Community Foundation recently spoke at a meeting of the Coloma Lioness Lions Club about the “Back to School” event for the Coloma and Watervliet communities to be held on Saturday, August 10, 2019, from 10 – 2 p.m. at Midway Baptist Church. Families would be able to receive backpacks filled with school supplies and have access to other services to prepare them for the onset of the school year. The one-day event would distribute over 750 backpacks, provide free vaccinations from the Berrien County Health Department, and have a mobile food pantry on-site, as well as other community resource agencies. Members of the Coloma Lioness Lions Club will help fill the back packs and be on hand to assist with the hand-outs. The club has also contributed monetarily to help reach as many in need as possible. Also in the planning stage is a coordinated school supply drive through the North Berrien communities. The collected supplies would be delivered to the schools for the teachers’ access during the school year.

Southwest Michigan Scholarship Program chooses 2019 title holders

The 46th Miss Southwest Michigan Scholarship Program, the 11th Mrs. Southwest Michigan Scholarship Program and the 28th Miss Southwest Michigan Teen Scholarship Program was held Saturday, April 27 at Bridgman High School Performing Arts Center. The theme was “Keepin it REHL.”

Miss Southwest Michigan

China Olivia May Stockbarger the eighteen-year-old daughter of Tad Stockbarger and Shelli and Scott Knoll of Baroda is the new 2019 Miss Southwest Michigan. Her platform is Childhood Cancer Awareness.

Mrs. Southwest Michigan

The new 2019 Mrs. Southwest Michigan is Christin Nichole Adams. Her husband is Joseph; she has a 5-year-old son Clayton and 2-year-old daughter Elise. They reside in Baroda. Her platform is Addiction.

Miss Southwest Michigan Teen

Alivia Grace Abram the fourteen-year-old daughter of Reiny and Trish Abram of Bridgman is the new 2019 Miss Southwest Michigan Teen. Her platform is Enriching the Lives of Children through Music.

2018 fundraising checks presented

Also during the 2019 Miss Southwest Michigan, Mrs. Southwest Michigan and Miss Southwest Michigan Teen Scholarship Programs the 2018 Southwest Michigan’s Princess, Makenna Kate O’Donoghue of St. Joseph presented a check for $816.20 she raised by community service project fundraisers during her year of service to Animal Aid of Southwest Michigan. The 2018 Southwest Michigan’s Pre-Teen, London Adrianne Jolynn Tucker of South Haven, presented a check for $1,680.00 she raised by community service project fundraisers during her year of service to Therapeutic Equine Center of Southwest Michigan. Mrs. Southwest Michigan for 2016, Sarah Elizabeth Briley of Hartford presented a check for $1,650.00 she raised by community service project fundraisers during her year of service to National Eating Disorder Association. Ashley Lynn Little of Coloma, 2018 Miss Southwest Michigan Teen, presented a check for $4,321.42 she raised by community service project fundraisers during her year of service to Alzheimer’s Association of Michigan. The 2018 Miss Southwest Michigan, Brianna McQuistine Gleason of Niles, presented a check for $1,187.56 she raised by community service project fundraisers during her year of service to U of M Digital Fundraising. The new 2019 Miss Southwest Michigan, Mrs. Southwest Michigan and Miss Southwest Michigan Teen will make a decision in six months after working with the Southwest Michigan Scholarship Program Prep Team if they would like to continue on to a State and National level of her choice. The Southwest Michigan Scholarship Program focus is to teach the young people here in the Greater Southwest Michigan Area – Communication, Leadership, Community Service, Respect & Honor. All scholarships awarded through this program are given to the young people in the Greater Southwest Michigan Area only. The Southwest Michigan Scholarship Program is not affiliated with the Southwest Michigan Scholarship Pageant, the Miss Michigan Scholarship Pageant, Inc., or Miss America Organization.

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