If a person can fulfill even one of their life’s goals, it’s cause to celebrate.
A.C. “Bubba” Fennell III has realized the only two dreams he’s ever had – as a member of the University of South Carolina’s Board of Trustees and through a lifelong affiliation with the Boy Scouts of America that earlier this year led to his being given its highest national honor.
“No regrets here,” Fennell said. “They’ve both got the same moral character, they both honor loyalty, integrity, dedication, all of those things.”
Months after taking home the prestigious National Eagle Scout Association Outstanding Eagle Scout Award, Fennell has no plans to ease his involvement with the Blue Ridge Council executive board – a post he’s had since 2009.
The organization is responsible for administering programs across eight Upstate counties, which counted 3,711 Cub Scouts and 2,147 Boy Scouts in 2018.
“I started out in Troop 57 when I was probably about 12 or 14, and it was probably two of the best years of my life with my friends, getting merit badges, camping – just a ball,” Fennell said. “That was one of my fondest memories growing up.”
The troop, sponsored by First Presbyterian Church, was minutes from Fennell’s childhood home on Grace Street.
A former president of the USC National Alumni Association and Board of Visitors chairman, Fennell emphasized his time with the Boy Scouts on his resume when he first ran for a seat on the university’s governing board in 2012.
“One of the first things I put on there was Eagle Scout, because I was proud of that,” Fennell said.
A legend of the Upstate scouting community, Fennell was given a Silver Beaver award in 2015, which is handed out by councils for distinguished service.
Fennell was honored with the national award during the Blue Ridge Council’s 2019 banquet in February at Buncombe Street United Methodist Church in Greenville.
Fennell is particularly fond of the Blue Ridge Council’s annual meetings at Camp Old Indian in Travelers Rest, which opened in 1926 and offers seven-week summer camps for Boy Scouts.
“It brings back memories. One of my hardest merit badges was swimming, and that’s because I got to Camp Old Indian and I jumped in that lake, and it was just ice cold,” he said. “At the time, everything looked so big and then you go back up there, and it’s really small.”
Where some youths come into scouting at the prompting of parents, Fennell discovered it on his own at a young age.
“They never had any input. I just had some friends. We lived on Grace Street, and I could walk to the Presbyterian church, so we all went over there. Probably 10 or 12 of the troop were probably in my high school,” he said. “I wish more boys, and girls now, would be interested because there’s a lot of good stuff they’re not getting. Kids are spending too much time on social media.”
Fennell has a shadow box of the medals he earned over his scouting career, along with the sash that holds his more than 20 merit badges.
He can list several reasons why scouting has had such a major role in his life.
“Fellowship, the outdoors, the God and country aspect of it, which seems like it’s disappearing now, the friendships you make. A lot of the friends that I was in scouting with are still really close friends today, and most of us stayed in Greenwood,” he said.