By Kevin Tate
The annual Boy Scout Clay Classic has become a key part of the landscape for shotgunning enthusiasts in north Mississippi, combining the outdoors with the forming of young men through a grass roots fundraiser that’s as effective as it gets.
This year’s event, the 19th annual, is set for Aug. 23-24 at Camp Yocona, the area Boy Scout summer camp south of Highway 278 between Pontotoc and Oxford. Shooters may sign up at the Boy Scouts of America office at 505 Air Park Rd., in Tupelo, or by calling Ruby Richey at 842-2871.
Nearly two decades ago, the first event drew two dozen shooters and raised $1,500. Last year’s Classic drew a two-day total of 208 shooters and raised around $30,000 all told. All of the money goes directly to the Yocona Area Council, a Boy
Scouts of America zone that supports more than 3,900 scouts in a dozen north Mississippi counties.
A worthy goal
“The Clay Classic is special to me because I have been involved with this event since its inception back in 1994,” Greg Burks, one of the event’s original organizers, says. “The grand thing is, it benefits the Boy Scouts of the Yocona Area Council, who are the next generations of leaders not only in our community, but our state and nation.
“The Scouting mission has always been to prepare our young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them timeless values like demonstrating good citizenship, building character, developing leadership skills and instilling positive family values.
“In today’s world, we need more organizations like the Boy Scouts of America to train our young people in citizenship and service and leadership, because this is ultimately what delineates and characterizes our communities.”
Originally a small event, the Boy Scout Clay Classic now spans two days and a number of divisions.
The first day is known as the Elite Eagle Shoot. Two-shooter teams register for $300 per team and take part in a six-station, 60-target competition. Their registration also includes four boxes of shells per shooter, a round of a sideline fun shoot and dinner.
A force for good
Registration for Saturday’s Clay Classic is $100 per individual shooter or $600 per four-shooter corporate team. Here shooters bring their own shells for a 12-station, 100-target showdown.
“People just keep coming to the table and the Classic just keeps growing,” Burks says. “It’s really been the sort of thing that people come out and see once as participants or sponsors and just really fall in love with. They come back and, when they do, they want to become more involved. Scouting is, by far, the best investment an individual or business can make in preparing our future leaders.”