Parade field dedicated to Scout killed in November crash

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 25, 2007

JAMAICA, Va.-It was more than fitting for members of Franklin Boy Scout Troop 17 to give an ice cream salute to their late friend and troop member during summer camp.

Standing on the parade field dedicated to Carter Stephenson, at a new Scout reservation called Bayport, the youth had good reason to raise the frozen treats in his honor.

Stephenson, 14, who died in a car crash last November along with two fellow Scouts and a Scout Leader, was well known for his humor.

During one of the camps, as he was leisurely eating his chocolate-covered ice cream on a stick, Stephenson told some of his fellow Scouts that the freezer had broken and free ice cream was being given away. Quite a few fell for it, as they scrambled off to get a treat.

&uot;Carter loved a good prank or joke,&uot; said his mother, Jennifer. She and her husband, Kent, who also shared the love of Scouts with his son, as he serves as Cubmaster for the affiliated Pack 17, arranged for the troop members to have their free ice cream this year.

Troop Committee member Bill Scarboro, along with other troop leaders and volunteers, took the boys on their first trip to the reservation this summer. Carter had been looking forward to going as well and had wanted to be on staff there.

&uot;It was really neat to be there and see the parade field,&uot; said Scarboro.

Just before night fell one evening, the youth gathered on the parade field.

Since some of the Scouts were new, it was explained what the dedicated field was all about.

&uot;We also got Jake Pittman, one of the boys who fell for the joke, to tell the others the (ice cream) story,&uot; Scarboro said.

The Stephensons had given Scarboro the money for the members to have ice cream.

&uot;We called Kent and Jennifer that night and put them on speaker phone,&uot; Scarboro said. &uot;It was a very special time for everyone. I wish they could have been there.&uot;

A Life Scout, Carter was two merit badges and a project away from earning his Eagle Scout. He was awarded the Spirit of the Eagle posthumously. His father said Carter was also in the Order of the Arrow, which he explained was a service group of honor campers voted in by their peers. The group has different levels, and after a year, one can become a brotherhood member.

Carter had taken the brotherhood walk in the August 2006, which solidified his commitment to the service, Kent said.

The family of Gaynelle Riddick, Jennifer’s aunt (Edwards family), and Kent’s family wanted to do something special for Carter related to Scouting.

&uot;We have a huge, close family,&uot; Riddick said. &uot;We wanted to do something meaningful to the memorial.&uot;

The family met with Scout Executive for the Colonial Council Dick Collins, who advised them of the options for dedicating areas of the new reservation.

The field is located in front of a 16,000 square foot multipurpose building called the Birdsong Center, named so because of a &uot;generous gift&uot; from Bill Birdsong and his family who reside in the Franklin, Suffolk and middle peninsula areas, according to Collins. The parade field is used for all opening and closing ceremonies during camp. Collins said that 2,500 youth and adults attended camp this summer at the new facility.

&uot;We wanted something visible,&uot; said Riddick. &uot;Every child that goes to camp stands on that field.

&uot;We wanted his name to live. He loved Scouting and his dad loves it, too,&uot; she said.

&uot;What could we do better than fund the field in his name?&uot;

Jennifer said that she thinks it meant a lot to the Troop members to be able to visit the Carter Stephenson Parade Field. Along with a parent of one of the victims, some of the boys who witnessed the accident attended the camp as well.

&uot;It’s been a hard year, and now it’s the first year for everything (without the ones who were killed in the accident),&uot;she said.

&uot;I know it was tough, but I think it was good for them to go and get it under their belts.&uot;

The family plans to visit Bayport Scout Reservation for a special dedication ceremony in the near future.