Community Gem: Kettering man continues to deliver the promise of Scouting

He’s been involved with youth in the Kettering area for decades and still believes in paying it forward.

Jonathan Thomas was nominated as a Dayton Daily News Community Gem by Sharon Merryman, whom, in a word, described as “amazing.”

In her nomination, Merryman said Thomas continues to volunteer for a local Boy Scout troop for years after his own sons had grown up.

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“He mentors the Scouts and has helped many achieve Eagle (Scout) rank,” Merryman said. “He goes above and beyond to help the Scouts develop into responsible young men. He even went to Philmont (Scout Ranch in New Mexico) a few years ago despite the fact he was over 60 years old.”

Thomas, 67, became involved in Scouting when a then-Dayton Daily News staffer, Grant Jackson, asked him to take over as the cubmaster for Pack 81. Jackson had to step down as the DDN was transitioning to be a morning paper.

He served the cub pack for 10 years before moving over to Troop 193 where he has served as a volunteer leader, including three stints as the scoutmaster. Thomas, who earned his Eagle Scout Award in 1969 during his Scouting days in Columbus, is currently an assistant scoutmaster with the Kettering troop.

When asked how many Scouts earned the Eagle Scout rank over the past 30-plus years with the troop, he said, “I never counted. There were numerous Scouts who reached Eagle and I was very delighted. A lot of great people served with me over the years and made some friends.”

Among the numerous Scouts who earned Eagle Scout rank, were his three sons.

As an adult leader, Thomas went on two backpacking expeditions to iconic Philmont Scout Ranch and into the hiking many miles into the rugged, mountain range in 1992 and again in 2016 with 50 Scouts in a crew.

“It was tough in 2016 (when he was age 61),” Thomas said.

When asked why he continues to volunteer as a leader, Thomas said, “It’s more of giving back to what I received from my Scoutmaster Lee Gilbert. People gave to me and I’m delivering the promise of Scouting by making sure kids stay with it and get the most out of it.”

In addition to serving the community as a Scouting volunteer, Thomas also coached youth football in the area from 1984 to 2020.

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