Whigham, Georgia -- 8/18/2011 ---
Coast guard life vests and military-grade sleeping bags are just some of the loot the Grady County Sheriff's Office has given Whigham Boy Scout troop 383.
Sheriff Harry Young says they donated several thousand dollars' worth of camping gear, including cooking stoves and large tents.
The Sheriff's Office got the items from a military surplus program -- for free.
Young says 'hard times' motivated him to help the troop.
He says, "[The Sheriff's Office] felt like we'd make a big difference, we've got some surplus things that are new."
Troop 383 isn't just for kids in Whigham; Scout Master Travis Shepherd says he has members from Bainbridge all the way to Thomasville -- and that's why the donation helps even more.
Shepherd explains, "It's a big expense for the parents right off the bat if you outfit a kid with all the camping gear and all, so this has been a tremendous asset for us."
Scouts aren't complaining, either.
Star Scout Thomas Shepherd muses, "You gotta have something to sleep on - sleeping on the dirt's not that fun. We have to do it for Wilderness Survival, but it's not that great, a lot of bugs."
The new gear also means all scouts can participate, regardless of how much money they have.
Says Eagle Scout Kent Brock, "It'll give [scouts] the opportunity that some might not ever have."
Young says he wishes every boy had the opportunity to be part of the organization that he calls 'near and dear' to his heart.
The troop will break in its new camping equipment before long -- the next scheduled camping trip is coming up at the end of August.