Photo by Mia Barranco
Tony Haines credits the page about bravery in the Boy Scout handbook, which he read when he was ten years old, with changing his life. “I started in Cub Scouts when I was eight,” said Tony, the CEO and Scout Executive of Andrew Jackson Council BSA in Jackson. “My dad gave me my first handbook two years later, and there was a page in there about being brave – about standing up for what you believe and standing up for others. I got the strength to stand up for myself against someone whom I decided wasn’t going to hurt me anymore. That’s what solidified my belief in scouting.”
A native of Saraland, Alabama, Tony earned the rank of Eagle Scout in April 1980, seven months after Hurricane Frederic caused significant damage to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. “We were 30 miles from the Coast, and I wanted my project to revolve around training the 50-60 homes in my neighborhood in emergency preparedness. We trained hundreds of people in American Red Cross First Aid and CPR – every fifth or sixth home was an emergency preparedness center. That program was expanded to include other neighborhoods in Mobile.”
A graduate of the University of West Florida, Tony spent seven years as an air traffic controller in the U.S. Navy and earned a Master’s degree from the University of West Virginia in East European and Slavic Studies with an emphasis in Business. He was certified as an assistant scout master shortly after he completed his Eagle project and went straight into professional scouting after his service in the Navy. He and his family live in Madison and moved to central Mississippi five years ago from Jackson, Tennessee, where Tony held the CEO/Scout Executive position with the West Tennessee Council.
“My number one job as Scout Executive is to ensure that the Andrew Jackson Council provides a quality program to our youth, and to make sure we have quality-trained adults,” Tony said. “I recruit the people who recruit the adults, kids and the volunteers to get our mission accomplished, and I work with our council president and executive board.
“Right now we’re working on a capital campaign at Hood Scout Reservation (in Copiah County) to turn it into a regional reservation – we’ve raised $3.5 million toward a $4 million goal. Hood has been designated by Scouting Magazine as one of the Top 30 Best Boy Scouts camps in the country, out of about 900 around the country.”
While Tony sees today’s scouts still enjoying traditional scouting chores, he’s glad to make exciting outdoor activities available to them. “If it’s something new, like mountain biking, zip lining, rock climbing, pistol shooting and mountain boarding, they want it,” he says. “And we encourage them to bring their phones to camp. Scouts can find a map of the camp, a flashlight, compass, merit badge book, handbook and so much more on their phones. And that makes it easier for them to do the things they do.”