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Boy Scouts celebrate 100 years of achievement

The Boy Scouts are 100 years old!

No, not the individual Boy Scouts in local troops 800 (chartered by the LDS Church) and 807 (chartered by the Community United Methodist Church), and certainly not the Cub Scouts in Pagosa Springs. It is the national organization: Boy Scouts of America was incorporated Feb. 8, 1910, and has had a 100-year history of turning our nation’s boys into leaders of tomorrow.

Scouts across the country are celebrating this anniversary, and on Sunday, Feb. 7, Pagosa Springs troop members joined the national celebration in Scout Sunday at their sponsoring churches. They will also be commemorating the Centennial occasion at other activities.

Scouting is open to all boys. Boys can become Tiger Cubs at age 7, and then move to Cub Scouts at age 9. The Boy Scouts are ages 11 through 17. While the troops are sponsored by the two churches, there is no requirement whatsoever of religious affiliation.

In Cub Scout Pack 807 two boys, Kaleb Kersop and Bryce Raymond, will be moving into Boy Scout Troop 807 next month. This ceremony will be held on March 6 at the annual Blue and Gold Banquet, where all Scouts are recognized and honored for their achievements over the past year. Kaleb and Bryce, as well as Cub Scout Joe Koch, were asked what they like best about Scouting. They unanimously agreed that they like camp because they “get to stay in tents, meet a lot of boys from all over, and learn a lot.“

All three also said they like to participate in the Pinewood Derby. For the Pinewood Derby, Cub Scouts build racing cars with the help of their fathers and/or other adults in the community. They then race the cars on a special track. Packs 800 and 807 will hold a joint Pinewood Derby this year. (How many of you men out there remember your Pinewood Derby cars or helping your sons build theirs?)

The highest rank a boy can achieve is Eagle Scout. Troop 800, chartered in the 1970s, has had several boys earn their Eagle award. Most recent Eagles are Myron Voorhis (whose father, Steve, is serving as Scoutmaster) Sackett Ross and Ryan Hamilton. You may remember reading about Ryan’s meaningful Eagle project, the cleanup of the old Pagosa Springs Cemetery that had been in disrepair for years.

Troop 807 chartered in 1935, has honored eight Eagle Scouts. They are Robert Belts (1983), Jim Bailey (1985, when his father was the scoutmaster here), Ryan Martinez (1998), Stephen Haning (1989), Mike Pierce (1999), Kyle Kamoltz (2004), and Kenny Hogrefe and Timothy Levonius in 2009.

Any boy interested in becoming a Scout is urged to call Jennifer Lindberg at 731-9978 for more information. She is also the person to call if you, as an adult (male or female), have an interest in helping with the Scouting program. You do not have to have a Scouting background. All you need is an interest in helping boys. There are dozens upon dozens of merit badges the boys can earn, and if you have an area of expertise — as most of us do — there is surely an area where your assistance would be greatly appreciated. Please consider this, and call Jennifer.

There will be special activities and celebrations of this anniversary throughout 2010, the largest being the National Scout Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia, close to Washington D.C. As many as 45,000 Scouts are expected to attend this memorable event. This is an event that Scouts remember for the rest of their lives. The total cost for an attendee is about $4,400. At least one local Boy Scout, Dylan Lindberg, plans to attend the Jamboree. He is actively trying to earn his way to Virginia. If you have projects, tasks or errands that might be done by Dylan, contact him at 731-9978. His enthusiasm and willingness to earn his own way to the event is a good example of the values and work.

During Scouting Sunday at the Methodist Church last Sunday, former Scouts were recognized, and at that time, Scouts Mike Branch and Don Long discovered they had both been at the National Jamboree in Colorado Springs in 1960. (They did not indicate how old they were at the time.)

Kurt Raymond, Bryce’s father, is one of the adults who is active in assisting the Scouting program. He summed up the thoughts of the adults involved with the Scouting program by saying, “This is what the United States is all about. It is a wonderful program.”

Gene Haning, local Scout supporter, strongly agrees with this. Gene had been a Cub Scout, but was not active as a Boy Scout. He did, however, work as a professional in the district Scouting offices. Upon moving to Pagosa Springs, he overheard a conversation about the need for a Scoutmaster for Troop 807, and he pondered briefly and concluded, “I think I could do that!” He has served Troop 807 as assistant Scoutmaster, as Scoutmaster and loyal supporter ever since.

Bob Tillerson became a Boy Scout in 1938. His quest for the Eagle Scout award was interrupted by a tour of duty in the Navy in World War II, but he received special permission from National Scouting headquarters to complete his last two merit badges upon his return from service. He continued to volunteer in the Scouting program, and then become a professional Scout. He enjoyed over 30 years in a very fulfilling career working with boys in the Scouting program. He said, “The belief in the oath and the law of Scouting meant as much to me as my religious beliefs — and still does.”

There are other strong supporters of the two Scout troops — just too many to mention in a short article. These men and women have served well, and continue to do so. There is, however, a need for new volunteers to come forward

Nationally, the organization has served more than 100 million members since its founding and continues to make a lasting imprint on our nation. The scouting mission, “to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout oath and law,” enables Scouting to address many timeless issues that are important to young people and families, including health, education, leadership, diversity and service to others. Bob Mazzuca, Chief Scout Executive of the BSA, recently stated, “Our country needs strong leaders and healthy young people more than ever before, and that is what Scouting is all about. This is our time in history to remind the nation that Scouting is more vibrant, more vital, and more relevant than ever before.”

According to the Boy Scout Law, boys in Scouting learn to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. According to “Values of Americans,” a Harris Interactive study released in 2005, men who are Boy Scouts are more likely than those who have never been Scouts to have higher levels of education, higher earnings, and to own their own homes.

Who are some of the more notable Scouts from the past 100 years? Of the current 111th Congress, 211 members have participated In Scouting. John F. Kennedy was the first Boy Scout to become a U.S. President. Gerald Ford was the first vice president/Eagle Scout. Astronaut Neil Armstrong was an Eagle Scout before he was the first man on the moon. Of the 179 astronauts involved in Scouting, 39 are Eagle Scouts. Microsoft founder Bill Gates was a Life Scout before changing the world through computer technology. Before changing the way America shops with his Wal-Mart chain, Sam Walton was the youngest boy ever to earn Eagle Scout in Missouri — as an eighth grader. Baseball great Hank Aaron was also an Eagle Scout.

The idea for Scouting was originally inspired by a military exercise in the Boer Wars in Africa at the turn of the 20th century. British officers utilized young native Africans as “scouts” to gain information, and upon the officers’ return to England they started using some of the same principles in work with English youth who were headed toward trouble because of too much time on their hands. Robert Baden-Powell founded the Scouting movement in England in 1907. A Chicago publisher, W.D. Boyce, happened to meet one of these British scouts on a foggy evening in London. This scout took Boyce to the Scout office where he met Baden-Powell. He was so inspired by this meeting, he returned home and established the Boy Scouts of America.

The BSA remains a vital organization with a mission and purpose that is more relevant today than ever before. Who can deny that these are not the values all of us would wish upon the youth of today? Let’s encourage all boys to consider becoming Boy Scouts.