For 71 of his 83 years on Earth, George Ginter has been a Scout.
The retired Army warrant officer said he has spent most of his life in Midway and Liberty County, except when he was stationed overseas or serving in the Korean and Vietnam wars. No matter where he was, however, he was connected with Scouting.
“Scouting gave me such a foundation in life,” Ginter said. “I sort of breezed right through basic training, except for having to shoot a rifle. I knew how to use and sharpen a knife, how to read a map and compass and how to make a fire. I had a lot of experience hiking and camping, too.”
Ginter said that as soon as he was 12 years old and therefore eligible, he joined the Boy Scouts. That was Feb. 19, 1943. He was so happy for the opportunity to go camping that he almost forgot he was supposed to develop himself so he could move up in rank as a scout. He needed to make up for lost time. On Feb. 25, 1946, Ginter attained the rank of Eagle Scout.
Ginter’s “man cave” room is filled with Scouting memorabilia, merit badges, medals, plaques, trophies and wood carvings. There also is a trophy case displaying 13 medals earned during 24 years in the Army, including the Bronze Star Medal.
He said the Boy Scouts of America celebrated 100 years in 2010, then proudly noted he’s been a part of BSA for more than two-thirds of its history. The BSA, he said, has helped more than 110 million American boys become men through character and leadership development, citizenship training and developing a love for the outdoors.
Ginter grinned as he repeated “love of the outdoors.” He said most boys like camping. He certainly did.
Ginter has served and camped as a Scout and an adult Scout leader in Hinesville, Statesboro, the Coastal Empire Council, the Panama Canal Zone, South Korea, Japan, Thailand and the Netherlands. One of his prized possessions is a walking cane he used while climbing Mount Fuji in Japan during the 13th World Jamboree in August 1971. He pointed to burned engravings on the cane and said that as he reached certain levels of elevation during the hike up the mountain, a Japanese scouting representative would engrave a mark to signify his achievement.
While he was deployed to Vietnam, Ginter said he knew he’d eventually have an opportunity to go on “rest and relaxation,” which, at that time, usually was in Thailand. He asked the BSA for a letter of introduction to take with him, which he presented when he got to Bangkok. He chuckled as he talked about how the Boy Scout council there treated him like “their long-lost cousin.”
Among Ginter’s many accomplishments in Scouting are his induction into the Order of the Arrow in 1946, completing the Wood Badge Course and receiving the Silver Beaver Award in 1962, serving as assistant scoutmaster at the 13th World Jamboree in 1971 and attending the National Jamboree in 1993, 1997 and 2010.
In addition to Scouting, Ginter said the things most important to him include his family, his membership with Midway Methodist Church and the Masons and wood carving.
“I have three grown daughters, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren,” Ginter said. “I used to whittle all the time when I was a scout leader. That developed into wood carving. It’s been a lot of fun.”
He pointed to a cabinet filled with wood carvings and a bookshelf covered in carvings. There also were carvings of “elf” houses hanging on the wall. Ginter spread his hands and pointed to scars where he’d cut himself while wood carving and even larger scars on his arm, which he said were a reminder that he survived a flesh-eating disease in 2005.
The things he has accomplished and things he has survived, Ginter said, he owes to Scouting.