Two Boy Scout councils vote to combine efforts

WARREN – The leadership of the Greater Western Reserve Council of the Boy Scouts has voted to combine with the Akron-based Great Trail Council in an effort to become more efficient in serving the needs of area Scouts while being good stewards of the funds donated to the scouts.

There were 50 chartered Scout organizations and 22 executive board members that participated in the vote Thursday evening at the Welshfield Inn in Troy. The vote was 41 for the transition and 30 against it.

Greater Western Reserve Council represents Scouts in Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake, Mahoning and Trumbull counties, as well as a small portion of Portage County. There are nearly 5,000 scouts in the council, and about half are in Mahoning and Trumbull counties.

“The Great Trail Council’s executive board already has voted to accept us,” said Don Groszek, immediate past president of the Greater Western Reserve Council. “This kind of realignment is not only happening in this region, but has been happening throughout the country where demographic changes decrease the number of people able to join the Scouts.”

In northeast Ohio, five Scout regions are expected to continue to see significant declines in the number of kids available to join any of the four levels of scouting. The regions include Greater Western Reserve Council, the Heart of Ohio Council of Ashland, Greater Cleveland Council in Cuyahoga County, Buckeye Council in Canton and Great Trail Council in Akron.

Western Reserve council is aligning with Great Trail because the Akron council is older, more established and its youth population loss through 2020 is expected to be significantly less. The realignment is expected to be completed Jan. 1.

Ned Gold, the national representative for the Greater Western Reserve council, said the eligible number of youth available to join the Scouts has declined about 25 percent since the 1980s. From 2014 to 2020, there is expected to be 21,000 fewer youth available in the five-council region.

“There are a number of reasons for the population decline, including a lower birth rate and adults moving to different areas,” Gold said.

“This action will not be felt by Scout troops on the local level,” Groszek said. “They still will have their meetings at the same locations and still will be able to go to the same camps they have been attending.”

rsmith@tribtoday.com