I was able to catch up with Ron Bane with the Boy Scouts of America Georgia-Carolina Council for lunch with subs from Jersey Mike’s and some sweet tea. Ron is a fabulous storyteller and has a million of them!
Me: Are you originally from the Augusta area?
Ron: I grew up in Los Angeles; Cerritos, actually. I had a great time in high school when I spent equal time at the beach and in class. The beach and the school were roughly the same distance from home, just in opposite directions. It was music class that kept me in school to graduation. I could read music faster than I could read words.
Me: So, what brought you to Augusta?
Ron: The Army brought me here. I guess like a lot of people. When I finished high school, I was seduced by a recruitment poster of an MP with a dog. I went into the recruitment office and told the officer I wanted to do that. I went to Fort McClellan in Anniston, Alabama for AIT (Advanced Individual Training) to be an MP.
I found out that only the top 1% would go on to dog handling so I worked hard and studied hard to do that. I was convinced that I wouldn’t make it based on my lack of good study habits I demonstrated in high school. But I surprised myself and succeeded! I went on to the school for dog training and handling with just a handful of people.
We were joined by a few others from other AIT schools. After graduating from that training, and only 6 of us finished, I was sent to Germany where I received my dog. He was a German Shepherd named Cain. We had a lot of adventures together.
I was moved to Fort Gordon in 1984. Soon after arriving here, I met my wife Jan at the Augusta Mall. Her family is here in Augusta so we stayed here. I didn’t re-enlist when my time was up. We’ve been happily married and here in Augusta for 38 years.
Me: How does this area compare to Cerritos?
Ron: Back in my day, Cerritos was the dairy capital of the US. The air was very “fresh” if you like dairy cows! Ha! Cerritos was even named “the prettiest city in the US” sometime back in the late 1970s or early 1980s. It wasn’t as built up then as it is now, so it was more hometowny. It’s like that here. There are rural parts and more populated areas. But the neighborhoods are friendly, and everyone seems to know everyone else.
Me: Tell me about your work.
Ron: I’ve done a lot of things. When I left the army, I became a police officer with the Augusta Police Department. We, my wife Jan, and I, started a side business of janitorial and cleaning supplies. We started by cleaning a few houses and then we started getting commercial and city buildings to clean at night. The business started to grow really big, really fast. We had crews and a lot of big buildings in downtown Augusta, like the Lamar Building, and Columbia County buildings too. I left the police force in 1999. And soon after we sold our business.
Then I went to work at Club Car as a Plant Engineering Supervisor. They provided an opportunity for me to go to college for Inventory Controls and Warehouse Management. I worked in the logistics of Inventory Controls and Warehouse Management.
Now, I work as District Executive with the Georgia-Carolina Council. I liaison between the Scout Packs and Troops and help in new Scout Pack and Troop creation, organization, training, and community outreach.
Me: Tell me about the Georgia Carolina Nature and Adventure Center. This is a fabulous facility.
Ron: This was the Augusta Jewish Community Center. It was purchased and it is leased to the Georgia Carolina Council BSA. We have our offices here and the Scout Shop, of course. The Scout Shop has scout uniforms, merit badges, Cub Scout and Scout Handbooks, awards, pinewood derby car kits, and everything for our scouts. There is also camping gear and crafting things and open to anyone to come shop.
We also have classrooms and meeting rooms that are available to use. We’ve had business meetings here, wedding receptions, and Quinceañera parties. We even have a big industrial kitchen that is used by a local baker a few days per week. This is still the location for the Augusta Locally Grown Evans pick up on Tuesday afternoons.
Outside we have the pool which we use for the Scouts, tennis courts, a disc golf course, an outside pavilion and learning center, a playground, and we are putting in a permanent BB gun range and we can set up an archery range. We have plans down the road for obstacle courses and other fun things.
In the summer, we continue the Day Camps the AJCC provided, with a “scout” theme. Those camps are open to the public. We hold the Cub Scout Summer Day Camp here now rather than looking for other locations.
We want our facility to not only benefit our Scouting Programs but also the community. We encourage people to come play disc golf and tennis. And if someone needs classroom space or meeting center or banquet space, they should call us.
Me: When my son was in Cub Scouts and my husband and I were in leadership positions for his Pack, you were a tremendous help and an excellent ally! I am so excited that this facility is available for the Scouts and the community.
Me: So, what is your favorite activity to do in the Augusta area?
Ron: I like “playing” at playing the guitar. I have my father’s acoustic guitar I’ve been teaching myself how to play. The guitar is an antique and a beautiful piece of art more than it is a musical instrument. I don’t play well enough to tell the difference though. Ha ha! I just enjoy playing for myself.
Me: What type of music do you like to play?
Ron: I’ll try anything, except rock. I really enjoy playing folk music. Once you have a structure you can improvise and get creative with a tune.
Me: What is your favorite restaurant?
Ron: Whiskey Bar is probably one of my favorite places. They have a burger call The Sink which is my favorite. They have other sandwiches too and they are all good, but The Sink is what I usually get. They also have a terrific selection of whiskeys. I like the occasional whiskey.
I do like just about all foods. On a whim I recently tried Vietnamese food at Bành mì ÐĂNG the food was great and I tried a strawberry milk tea. It had boba balls in it. I was surprised by them, but they were really good!
Me: What is something you were pleasantly surprised to find here in Augusta?
Ron: I grew up with the stereotypical view of the South and Southerners. You know, everyone is hospitable, the famous Southern Hospitality. But also, that people in the south are slow and thick-accented, drawling, red necks. But it’s not so. The people here are indeed hospitable but in no way do Southerners fit the stereotype of being slow.
Me: Do you have any hobbies?
Ron: Hobbies… well, aside from playing at the guitar, I’ve been learning how to brew mead.
Me: Mead! I love mead! How unique!
Ron: Yes! I’m learning. I recently made a batch that didn’t turn out too well. It was a raspberry-habanero mead that I brewed and bottled. It was being stored in one of our spare rooms. I went to get a bottle and noticed that the lid was swelling. That’s not good. So, I took it to the sink and popped the top a little to release the pressure. It hissed for five minutes! Oh, and the smell! Nothing should smell like that, and certainly not mead! I carefully removed the bottles from the house and popped the tops off the bottles and let them spew outside. One neighbor came over to find out what that smell was. Ha ha!
Me: That’s hysterical!
Ron: Last year I planted some tomatoes and this year I’m going to try a bigger garden. I even have a greenhouse this year! It’s really more like a cabin tent with shelves. We’ll see what happens. That’s enough to keep me busy for now.
Me: What is one thing on your bucket list you haven’t done yet?
Ron: I’ve always wanted to learn how to sail. We were recently gifted a 30’ sailboat to the scouts, the Finesha, that’s the name but I’m not sure of the spelling. It’s up at the Knox Scout Reservation on the lake. Technically, because it’s 30’, it’s a “yacht.” It will sleep 4 to 6 people and has a galley kitchen. So, I’m learning how to sail. It’s harder than it looks! After my first day out, everything hurt. My toes hurt from gripping for balance, my arms hurt from hoisting the sail, everything hurt.
My whole life I’ve lived near water. I’ve been scuba diving for years and I’ve been on boats but I’ve never taken the opportunity to learn how to sail and I’m looking forward to getting the hang of it.
Me: What is one of your long-term goals and how are you working toward it?
Ron: I’m looking forward to retiring in the about a year and a half! How am I working toward it? I’m learning to sail and make mead!
Me: What is one thing you’ve done that you are proud of, or glad that you did?
Ron: My son Connor is the one thing I’m most proud of. He is my pride and joy. He graduated from Greenbrier High School with Honors, he went to University of North Georgia on scholarships studying languages, and he is a commissioned officer in the Army. He’s married to a wonderful girl who we love.
Me: Name one thing that makes you unique, interesting, or special.
Ron: What makes me interesting? I’m not interesting, I’m ordinary, normal, nothing really special. I’m just me.
Me: Thank you, Ron, for a wonderful afternoon and conversation! You are certainly interesting and special, and I have enjoyed getting to know you better. If people are looking for more information on scouting for their sons and daughters, or opportunities to volunteer to help with the Scouting Programs, they can contact you at the Georgia-Carolina Council. People can also reach out for use of the facilities at the Nature and Adventure Center. Or they can also contact me and I’ll be happy to give them your information.