Highly decorated Scout

T.J. Clayton, III

T.J. Clayton, III

Three years ago when he was 14, T. J. Clayton III completed a 70-mile, seven-day hike through the Appalachian Mountain.
He had no cell phone. He had special packaged military meals for his food.
The hike was part of his Boy Scout work that has carried him to earn the coveted Eagle Scout Award, a level only three percent reach.
He did not make the 70-mile hike alone. His father, T.J. Jr. and his grandfather, Truett, joined him on the adventure.
He and his dad chuckle that his grandfather did better than both of them.
T.J.’s Scout work has been phenomenal.
Now, as a high school junior, he has become the first Boy Scout in a 12-county area to earn three Christian awards called “God and Me”, “God and Family”, and “God and Country.”
He’s already working on the fourth and final award.
The son of T.J. and Theresa Clayton of the Immanuel Community, the Pontotoc High student has become one of the most decorated Scouts in county history.
Just recently he was honored again. This time for completing three highly prized Eagle Palm awards.
The Bronze, Gold and Silver Eagle Palm awards were presented by Grant Fox, an executive Scout board member, Jimmy Roberts, a troop board member and Rayburn Mapp, himself and Eagle Scout.
Grant Fox said Clayton “exemplifies what scouting is all about.”
Fox said the Silver Palm was such a major accomplishment it is “the equivalent of earning the rank of Eagle twice.
“He is a young man of extremely high character, who has reached the pinnacle of scouting” with the Silver Palm.
Scouting is teaching boys that “character counts,” Fox said.
Fox said scouting is “instilling in young men like T.J. the willingness to make good decision as adults and to always do what is right.
“T.J. is a model of humility, servanthood and high character.”
T.J. got hooked on Scouting as a seven-year-old when he would go with his dad, a scout leader, on camping trips in Lafayette County.
As a youngster in Webelos, the younger age branch of scouting, he earned the “Arrow of Light” merit badge, the only award that will carry over into Boy Scouts.
His eight years in scouting has been a family affair. His mother has encouraged him to work on merit badges. His dad has been working with Scouts since 1964.
After receiving his Eagle Scout award in 2002, his mother was awarded the Mother’s Eagle Pin, something he treasures.
At T.J’s ceremony to award him his Eagle Scout badge, special friends were there including Pontotoc Mayor Bill Rutledge, himself an Eagle Scout, and Jimmy Roberts, a longtime back of scouting and a former Mississippi Supreme Court Judge.
T.J.’s devotion to Scouting also won him a place in the Order of the Arrow, a national honor society for Scouts. The selection for the honor comes from other Scouts.
He also holds the Den Chief Service Award which is given to Scouts in recognition of their service to other Scouts.
He serves as Pack 20 den chief for cub scouts.
In addition he has worked two years at Camp Yocona during the summer.
At a summer Christian camp, T.J. discovered his years of Scout training came in handy.
At Doe River Gorge, a church camp in the Smokey Mountains in Tennessee, campers were going through a series of trials.
One was to find a specific location with only a compass and map.
T.J. was the only one of 400 who could use a compass. “Everyone wanted him on their team from then on,” his father laughed.
In the kayak race, another Scout skill, canoeing, came in handy and led him to a first place finish.
But, to T. J. Scouting is more than games.
“I like the discipline,” he says. He likes studying the Bible and being prepared.
In December T.J. will start teaching the “God and Country” merit badge to other Scouts.He had already taught them horsemanship.
“I like teaching others,” he adds.
He believes an Eagle Scout has a responsibility to come back and teach other Scouts, something the organization promotes.
After earning the Eagle award, he received letters from both U.S. Senators from Mississippi, the governor, lieutenant governor and the President of the United States.
He’s kept them all.