Scouting still important
Recently, I was asked if I thought the Boy Scouts of America remains a vital and viable organization for young men in the 21st century. Without pausing a second I answered emphatically that it certainly was and that we needed it as much as ever. The Boy Scouts remain the premier character building organization for young men in the country. We certainly need an organization that emphasizes learning skills exploring the world around them, understanding government and giving back to the community through service.
Obviously I’m a big supporter of the program and my love of Scouting comes naturally. My father was a long time Scoutmaster and leader in Troop 126 in Garnett. I was an Eagle Scout and my brother-in-law was an Eagle Scout. In addition I have a son-in-law who was an Eagle Scout. To keep the family heritage going both of my Bonner Springs grandsons were Eagle Scouts in Troop 149. Yes, I remain a volunteer with the local program. It certainly is easy to see why I believe in Scouting.
Don’t get me wrong there are many other character building organizations that do a great job, too, and I don’t want to take anything away from them. My wife was Who’s Who in 4-H and my daughters were involved in Girl Scouts and Camp Fire Girls. They all are fine organizations that provide great training for youth. Yet, due to my experience, the Boy Scouts have stood the test of time and have evolved into an organization that serves modern needs.
When I was working toward being an Eagle, I mastered many skills although it has been 50 years since I’ve used some of them. The requirements were much simpler in those days. You had to earn 21 merit badges with a few required ones such as Hiking, Camping, Swimming and Cooking. While many of these are still required, others such as Personal Finance and Citizenship in the community, nation and world are mandatory.
But that isn’t the end of the road for the candidate, as now they also have to complete a major service project. This isn’t just some simple chore as some of the projects are huge undertakings. The Eagle project requires the young man to plan the work, receive proper permission, recruit volunteers, work out financing and then spent a lot of hours working and directing the project.
Believe me, these projects involve the entire family. Nearly a decade ago we spent many hot days helping with the scraping and painting of the interior of the caboose at Centennial Park and working on landscaping projects.
Over the years, young men have completed some projects which were valuable to the city, schools and churches. Recently, the football locker room was painted and back inthe1980s steps were built to a giant slide that was located in Lions Park. I really believe that conducting a service project teaches the young man many skills that are important for successful living.
The Boy Scouts have been around for a long time. Most people know that the Scouting movement was started by Lord Baden Powell following his experience in the Boer War as a way to teach physical fitness to English youth. The Scouting movement came to the United States a century ago. In its earliest years it faced opposition since some thought it was a paramilitary group. It didn’t take long before the program proved that it was strictly a character building organization. Throughout the years, the program has served a multitude of young men and over one million have achieved the rank of Eagle.
Thanks to Camp Naish, the Boy Scout program has been vital to our community. Many thousands of folks who live throughout the region have visited Bonner Springs because of Camp Naish.
There are three aspects of the program that I appreciate most. I have written this before and I still believe that it is important. Scouting is the only youth program that doesn’t require that a young man be 6-feet-6 tall or run a 4.5 40-yard dash to reach the top. Being an Eagle requires hard work, dedication and family support. It is a program that is both run and financed by volunteers. Scout leaders are volunteers who give of their time and money to run a successful program. They deserve our thanks and congratulations.
During the next few weeks you’ll have a chance to help the Scouting program. The first will come on Saturday when Troop 149 holds its annual pancake breakfast at the United Methodist Church from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Bonner Springs United Methodist Church. Tickets are $5 each. It is a great community event. In addition the annual Boy Scout Friends drive will be conducted. If you want to help, contact Bruce Coleman, myself or other volunteers.
Scouting is over a century old, but thanks to dedicated volunteers it is still a program that provides learning experience and adventure to young men. Yes, I’m proud to be involved in the Scouting program.