Harbor Style Harbor Style July 2017 : Page 87

On My HONOR For more than 100 years, the Boy Scouts of America have been teaching our nation’s boys and young men to be good citizens who strive to make the world a better place. Members of the Boy Scouts of America make three promises when they recite their oath. Each Scout guarantees he will do his best, “To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout law.” They are taught by family and religious leaders to be a good family member and a good citizen, obey the laws of the Scouts and the country and work toward making this a better world. Scout law is to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. Scouts also agree “to help other people at all times.” Whether they simply offer a cheerful smile or provide a helping hand when needed, Scouts want to make life easier for others. The Boy Scout slogan is “Do a good turn daily!” Most importantly, a Scout promises “To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.” They take care of their bodies by eating the right foods and building their strength with physical activities. They also satisfy their curiosity by asking lots of questions and learning all they can. And, they make a commitment to live an honest life, keep their words and actions clean, and be a person of strong character. ³ Story by Carol Bruyere I Photography by Sue Paquin HARBOR STYLE | 87

On My Honor

Carol Bruyere

For more than 100 years, the Boy Scouts of America have been teaching our nation’s boys and young men to be good citizens who strive to make the world a better place.

Members of the Boy Scouts of America make three promises when they recite their oath. Each Scout guarantees he will do his best, “To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout law.” They are taught by family and religious leaders to be a good family member and a good citizen, obey the laws of the Scouts and the country and work toward making this a better world. Scout law is to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.

Scouts also agree “to help other people at all times.” Whether they simply offer a cheerful smile or provide a helping hand when needed, Scouts want to make life easier for others. The Boy Scout slogan is “Do a good turn daily!”

Most importantly, a Scout promises “To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.” They take care of their bodies by eating the right foods and building their strength with physical activities. They also satisfy their curiosity by asking lots of questions and learning all they can. And, they make a commitment to live an honest life, keep their words and actions clean, and be a person of strong character.

A Little History

The Boy Scouts of America was incorporated in 1910. Newspaper man and entrepreneur W.D. Boyce was impressed by the values and behavior exhibited by a Scout he interacted with while visiting London, and believed a similar program would be a valuable asset to the young men of America.

The first BSA annual meeting was held at the White House, with President William Howard Taft serving as Honorary BSA President. Every US President since then has been elected by the BSA Executive Board as Honorary President. Boy Scouts have served in some ceremonial role at every Presidential Inauguration since Woodrow Wilson’s 1913 ceremony.

BSA members have also contributed to many other historical occasions, including serving as World War I message runners, coast watchers and war bond/stamp sellers as well as ushers, guides and honor guards at the 1939 New York World’s Fair.

In 1984 the Varsity Scout Program was instituted for older Scouts to participate in sports and high-adventure activities. The Venture Program was instituted in 1989 for Senior Scouts and Explorer Scouts and includes a Sea Scout program for navigation and boating training.

Many changes to BSA laws and programs have been made throughout the years, including membership constrictions. While basic Boy Scout, Varsity and Cub Scout programs are only available to young men, the Venturing Division is now also open to female members. Though segregated Troops once existed, no racial or ethnic exclusions are now allowed. In 2013 BSA made the news for lifting their ban on openly gay Scouts. In 2015 the ban on gay adult leaders and employees was also lifted.

Boy Scouts of America is now considered one of America’s largest and most prominent youth development organizations that focuses on building character, developing personal fitness and teaching the responsibilities of citizenship. Current membership in all four regions of the US (West, South, Central and Northeast) includes more than 2.4-million youth and nearly one-million adult volunteers. Regions are made up of “Areas,” which are divided into “Councils” and then into “Districts” and finally into “Crews.”

Our Local Scouts

The Southwest Florida Council is made up of four districts. The Two Rivers District includes Charlotte, Sarasota and DeSoto counties.

According to Council Field Director Bill Lawrence and Charlotte County Assistant District Commissioner Dianna Lucchetti, the District has 955 Cub Scouts in 28 packs, 536 Boy Scouts in 27 troops, 83 Venturers in nine crews and 27 Explorers in two posts. On average, they say, each Scout performs 6.43 hours on community service projects like road cleanups. They definitely make a difference.

All Boy Scout troops are chartered by a local organization that serves as a sponsor/owner/operator. Approximately 50 percent of all Scouting units are said to be chartered within religious groups as part of their youth ministries. Since programs with a career education emphasis were added, many posts are chartered by business and government agencies.

An adult volunteer committee oversees proper and safe operation of the programs. Leaders must pass a criminal background check and a required “Youth Protection” safety course, as well as participate in online or classroom training specific to their role. There are currently 655 adult volunteers in our local District.

Adult leaders include a Scoutmaster, Assistant Scoutmaster, an Organization Representative and a Committee Chairman. Additional committee members, usually Scout parents, may manage finances or organize fundraisers.

Debi Allen, the chartered organization representative for Pilgrim United Church of Christ, calls herself the “liaison” between the church and Scout Troop #351. She coordinates events held at the church, helps arrange fundraising efforts and is responsible for “discipline.”

“When I look at these young men developing that level of selfdiscipline, it gives me faith in the future,” she said.

Thomas Koontz, a Scoutmaster for approximately 24 years, agrees. “A lot of older folks feel we are in dire straits when they see our youth,” he said. “If they really got down to brass tacks, they’d realize we’ll be okay. There are some really good eggs out there. We teach them a sense of morals and leadership. I believe in the value of the Scout program.”

Chris White, Cubmaster for Pack 351 and Scoutmaster for Troop 351, said his goal is “to keep order and make sure meetings are conducted properly” with appropriate behavior. He aids in facilitating activities based on a “wish list” submitted by Scouts. “We make the boys plan. It’s a boy led, boy run program,” he said. A recent end-of-the-year go cart outing was very popular.

White said boys can join any Troop they wish, and location plus available programs will likely determine which one is appropriate. According to Lucchetti, families can locate units by entering their zip code on beascout.scouting.org.

It’s also worth noting that on May 22, Troop 351 was awarded the title of Youth Group of the Year at the annual Keep Charlotte Beautiful Celebration at the Charlotte Beach Complex.

Cub Scouts

Boys from 1st to 5th grade – ages 7 to 11.5 – are eligible to join Cub Scout packs, where they experience an introduction to the Boy Scout program.

In addition to the original Boy Scout goals of character, citizenship and fitness growth, Cub Scouts work on spiritual growth, family understanding and respectful relationships, friendly service and personal achievement.

This fun and adventurous start to the scouting program awards those who complete required or elective activities, within their age range, with activity belt loops or pins showing their achieved rank, starting with the Bobcat Badge.

First grade Cub Scouts work toward achieving the Tiger Badge, second graders try to get the Wolf Badge, and those in third grade work seek the Bear Badge. Fourth and fifth grade Cub Scouts are focusing on getting the Webelos Badge (short for “WE’ll BE LOyal Scouts”), before they strive for the highest rank award, the Arrow of Light.

Each pack holds a number of annual events and activities, including campouts, regattas, derbies, banquets and Scout Sunday or Scout Sabbath events that mark the founding of Scouts in the US.

Boy Scouts

Youth who are 11-18 years old, or are 10 years old and have completed the fifth grade or earned the Arrow of Light Rank in the Cub Scout program, may join one of the Boy Scouts of America troops.

The annual registration fee is $25, but there may be additional fees or costs for some activities and supplies, as well as the purchase of an official Boy Scout Handbook and a uniform.

Scouts, depending on the size of their particular unit, could elect a Troop Guide to oversee operations, and a Patrol Leader and Assistant Patrol Leader. Additional positions usually include a Scribe who takes notes, a Cook, a Chaplain’s Aid, a Quartermaster to take care of equipment and a Cheermaster who originates troop cheers and chants.

Weekly troop meetings may include or be replaced by special activities, service projects or outdoor experiences. Scouts may engage in skill challenges, team building opportunities or patrol and troop-wide games within categories such as Outdoor, Sports, Health & Safety, Citizenship and Personal Development, Arts and Hobbies or STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

A number of additional special programs, training courses, summer jobs and scholarships are also available. Two exciting, action-packed programs – the National Youth Leadership Training (NYLT) and National Advanced Leadership Experience – focus on teaching leadership, team-building and decision-making skills Scouts can use to guide themselves and others in their home Troop or in other situations.

Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts can also participate in the Conservation Good Turn, Leave No Trace and Emergency Preparedness programs.

Various guidebooks, cookbooks, manuals and fieldbooks give Scouts information and instruction on procedures, requirements and safe participation in activities. Boys’ Life Magazine adds a bit of news, fiction and fun to the Scouting experience.

Throughout their participation in the Boy Scout Program, members may earn Merit Badges in any of the 158 categories they choose to be involved in. Scouts can learn skills pertinent to many areas of life, including physical activities like athletics, canoeing or kayaking, climbing, fishing or hiking. Adventurous Scouts may try camping, geocaching, oceanography or space exploration. More laid back areas of interest include chess, reading, cooking, public speaking and stamp collecting. Or perhaps a Scout is interested in an artistic pursuit like photography, architecture, theater, sculpture or woodworking. Some Scouts like to focus on history or nature and conservation. Some like animals or family and health categories. Robotics, programming, and genealogy are some that could interest the technically-minded Scouts.

Career training in aviation, business, dentistry, farm or auto mechanics, plumbing, sales and many other fields is available, while life-saving, fire safety and wilderness survival techniques prepare them for some of life’s everyday challenges.

Troop 351 awarded several Merit Badges at a Court of Honor ceremony in May, including Family Life, Fish & Wildlife and Fingerprinting to Alex MacDonald, and Fishing, Reading and Fingerprinting to Lucas Blanchette.

As Boy Scouts grow in self-reliance and their ability to help others, they advance in rank. Basic knowledge of Scout values, operational procedures, Patrol spirit, merit badge essentials, and knot tying and pocketknife safety helps Scouts meet the beginning Scout Rank requirements. Additional training in camping, cooking, hiking, fitness, first aid, citizenship, leadership, Scout spirit and use of tools aid in qualifying Scouts for Tenderfoot Rank.

Brian and Tara Price are extremely proud of their son Justin’s accomplishments. They say he’s learned great values and gained his independence.

“I just learned how to sharpen and use an ax, a saw and a pocket knife,” Justin said, smiling. He’s also learned to put up a tent, make pancakes and start a fire, Tara added.

“All these kids are really good. It’s like a brotherhood,” Tara said. Second Class Rank requires navigation and aquatics training, while achieving First Class Rank requires emergency preparedness. To achieve the Star Rank, like Lucas Blanchette, Scouts must have earned six merit badges, completed six hours of service projects and served four months in a position of responsibility within the troop or the community. For Life Rank, Scouts must earn at least five more merit badges, do a minimum six hours of service (at least 3 conservation related), serve six months in a position of responsibility and teach another Scout the skills required to achieve lower ranks.

The final rank, Eagle Scout, is a significant achievement and requires earning 21 merit badges and serving six months in at least one position of responsibility. In addition, the Life Scout must plan, develop and give leadership to others in an approved service project helpful to any religious institution, school or their community.

Eagle Scouts

Many local Scouts have completed, or are working on achieving the Eagle Scout Rank. We can thank several of them for making our area parks and public spaces more beautiful and inviting.

Kyle Finch designed and built the unique tree-surrounding square benches at the Punta Gorda History Park for his service project, using an online engineering program that took tree sizes into consideration. The $200 in unused funds he raised were donated to the Historical Society.

“My dad ( Jim Finch), was a Scout, and so was his dad,” Kyle said. They inspired him to become involved. “Camping, and the friendships I’ve made, are my favorite things about Scouting.”

Kyle just “aged out” of scouting, but he has maintained his values and his friendships. He’s rooming with another Eagle Scout at University of South Florida now.

Tobias McKay-Broom wanted to become a Scout to help others. He recently completed his Eagle Scout requirements after designing and building multiple bird houses, perches and feeders for the Peace River Wildlife Center. The $500 in additional funds he raised were donated to the Center.

Toby’s accomplishments were also acknowledged and awarded with special honors at Pilgrim Church. His official Eagle Scout ceremony will be held in August after he and his family return from a trip to Europe, during which he will assist with training Scouts in England.

Samuel De Los Santos recently completed his Eagle Scout service project, building a shelter and bench at Myakka State Park so hikers can take a break in the shade. He said that working toward the Eagle Scout rank is a little tough, requiring lots of paperwork and hours of work. “It’s different than something a typical teen would do,” he said. “But it’s accomplishable. And worth it in the end.”

His work is not only appreciated by his Troop (776), but by the community. Sam feels his Boy Scout experience, plus three years in ROTC, helped him gain acceptance to The Citadel.

One of his Troop “brothers,” Senior Patrol Leader and Life Scout Noah Reid, said he’s coming up on Eagle Scout soon, as are several other Troop 776 members. Right now he’s in charge of all the other patrol leaders and is working with younger and older Scouts to help them learn patrol leadership.

Additional awards, like the Order of the Arrow, The National Outdoor Achievement Award, Keep America Beautiful’s Hometown U.S.A. Award, the Etz Chaim (Tree of Life) Award and Religious Emblems, acknowledge Scouts for their efforts. Eagle Scouts receive a US Army Youth Certificate of Recognition and may qualify for Eagle Palm awards. An honorary Spirit of the Eagle Award is a posthumous recognition for a member who has lost his life in an accident or due to illness.

Outdoor Adventures

Once every four years the national Scout Jamboree, a 10-day summer event, brings BSA members together at The Summit Bechtel National Scout Reserve in West Virginia to enjoy climbing, ziplines, mountain biking and more. They also enjoy a major biannual event, the National Order of the Arrow Conference.

The World Scout Jamboree, part of the World Organization of the Scout Movement that started in 1920, offers Scouts an opportunity to celebrate cultural exchange and develop mutual understanding, peace and friendship with Scouts around the world. Two additional events –Jamboree on the Air and Jamboree on the Internet – extend that connection.

Boy Scout summer camps provide special outdoor opportunities for the Troops. Scouts abide by their “Outdoor Code,” promising, “As an American, I will do my best to: Be clean in my outdoor manners; Be careful with fire; Be considerate in the outdoors; and Be conservation minded.”

Punta Gorda is home to Camp Miles, located off Bermont Road. A part of the Cecil Webb Wildlife Management area, the 1,280-acre camp offers many programs and annual camping events.

At Philmont Scout Ranch, in the rugged New Mexico wilderness, Scouts can participate in a backpack trek through scenic mountains as well as enjoy backcountry camping experiences. Noah Reid is going to Philmont this year to enjoy the mountains. “I’ll be doing trail work there, too. It’s nice to have a conservationist opportunity.”

BSA’s winter camping and summer canoeing expeditions in Northern Minnesota and Canada are part of their Northern Tier National High Adventure Program.

The Florida National High Adventure Sea Base, located in the Keys, offers tropical adventures like coral reef sailing, offshore fishing and underwater exploration.

Earning Their Way

Boy Scout troops frequently rely on a variety of fundraising events to help pay for members’ supplies or summer camp and special program fees. Troop 776, chartered by the Gulf Cove United Methodist Church, held its 3rd Annual Mother’s Day Breakfast fundraiser on May 13. Funds raised at the breakfast will send members to Camp Shands, located near Florida’s Ocala National Forest, this summer.

“All the bad you hear about kids these days? These kids are awesome,” said omelet “chef” and event coordinator Alfred Current.

An Eagle Scout himself, Current understands the challenges. “All the skills (they) learn, it’s a worthwhile thing.” He knows the boys enjoy their activities, mentioning, “Sometimes they camp in the (church) backyard!”

Scoutmaster Tom Whiting and Committee Chairman Larry Davis help to organize and run the event as well as other successful fundraisers and regular meetings and activities. They are educating the Scouts to manage their own schedule and make it a “boy run troop.”

“The idea is that the boys work on earning their way to camp. It can be expensive, but it’s so worth it,” Davis commented. “We’re developing future leaders of the community.”

The troop and their leaders appreciate what the Church does to support them, and they believe in payback. According to Council Finance Manager Annette Whiting, members recently put down mulch in the Church Memorial Garden. “They work well together,” she said, adding, “This church and everyone in it has been absolutely wonderful to us.”

Pastor Mike Weaver II said they encourage and welcome the Scouts. “They help us at the drop of a hat. It’s a beautiful gift to see the interaction of generations.”

For more than a century, Boy Scouts of America has worked with our youth to create “a more conscientious, responsible and productive society” and build our future leaders. The programs may have changed over the years, but their success has remained constant. They’re teaching young boys and men to “Be Prepared!”

Read the full article at http://trendmag2.trendoffset.com/article/On+My+Honor/2810743/416554/article.html.

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