The Withlacoochee District, part of the Greater Tampa Bay Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America, has been named District of the Year by the council. And Spring Hill's Brandon Kathman, district executive of the Withlacoochee District (which includes 45 troops and at least 1,000 Scouts in Citrus, Hernando, and Sumter counties), has been named the council's Executive of the Year.
"I was not surprised by District of the Year. I give all of the credit to my district, the leaders, and the scouts. They overcame obstacles and have set the golden standard," Kathman said. "The one I was not expecting was the District Executive of the Year. But again, all credit goes to the district."
The honors were bestowed on March 6, at a Tampa banquet which was hosted by a Scouting council that includes nine Tampa Bay counties.
"The District of the Year Award is given based on performance, membership, budgeting, and fiscal success," said Kathman. "It's also based on an assessment of the program and its leadership."
Kathman attributes the win to an additional quality as well: Survival. The Scouting program, after all, is based on group activities conducted largely in public. Yet, as every Scout knows, when there's a will, there are so many ways. "The district responded so quickly when the pandemic was identified," said Kathman. "Within days of the shutdown, we had set up virtual badge classes and started sending Easter cards to retirement communities, to bring comfort to seniors in isolation. We did a socially distanced kayak cleanup on Hernando Beach."
Throughout the year, Kathman also led Tampa Bay Scouts in becoming the first STEM Scouts program in the state, raising 6 tons of food for a Scout charity project, and in establishing a Penpals program with Scouts in England.
Scout leadership comes naturally to Kathman, who himself joined Scouting as a Scout in the first grade and an executive at age 21. His experience and dedication pay off, in the eyes of his Scouts. "Just wanted to say thank you, Mr. Brandon. It takes guts to lead and be a part of something that matters. It means everything and takes time," wrote a Withlacoochee Scout from Troop 457, age 14. "Keep it up and look back on what you have done for all of us."