BY FRED PATTERSON, Old Hickory Council, Boy Scouts of America
For eight teenagers and four adults, riding horseback in the backcountry of New Mexico was a chance of a lifetime. Scouts of Troop 715, sponsored by New Philadelphia Moravian Church, planned for over two years to travel to Philmont Scout Ranch. It is a large, rugged, mountainous ranch, located near the town of Cimarron, New Mexico, covering 140,177 acres of wilderness in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of the Rocky Mountains of northern New Mexico. Each year thousands of Scouts from all over America backpack the trails at Philmont.
It’s rare, but occasionally a scout troop can apply for a horseback cavalcade excursion for ten days at Philmont. Troop 715 was given that chance! According to George Burns, parent and an Assistant Scoutmaster, this was a dream come true for his two sons.
The Burns family joined scouting in 2008 when their two sons, Wills and Miles, joined Cub Scouting. They were excited when they came home from school that fall with a flyer announcing a “Join Scouting” night the next week. Miles was too young for that year—you have to be in first grade to join—but Wills was ready. Mom and Dad took Wills to join Scouts. Two years later, Miles was old enough and ready to join. “It’s been a great family adventure ever since,” according to George. Of course, dad had to join in as well and eventually became the Cub Master for the Cub Scout Pack. In the next several years, the Cub Scout Pack grew to over 100 boys.
Now Wills and Miles are close to becoming Eagle Scouts, and Eagle Scout dad George couldn’t be more proud. “Scouting has become a way of life for my family, and the values and life lessons that I learned as a boy, and those that my boys are learning now, are preparing them to be awesome young men,” exclaims George.
“Our Philmont adventure this summer provided me the opportunity to share an experience with my sons that, frankly, few fathers may ever have.” In the not-too distant future, this father and his sons will all share a common legacy of being Eagle Scouts…and it all started with a flyer brought home from school!
“Trustworthy. Loyal. Helpful. Friendly. Courteous. Kind. Obedient. Cheerful. Thrifty. Brave. Clean. Reverent.”
We all want our children to grow into responsible, caring adults with strong, positive values. The early years of elementary school is the time when those values begin to be molded and formed. The activities a parent and child participate in together during these few years will likely set the course for the child’s future.
The Boy Scouts of America, the nation’s oldest and largest youth development organization since 1910, has been helping families, churches, and schools raise young men of strong character. The twelve values of the Scout Law along with the ideals of the Scout Oath—duty to God and Country, citizenship, service and personal fitness—are instilled through a variety of age-appropriate and fun activities.
Cub Scouting, the Scouts’ program for boys in first through fifth grades, weaves the concepts of getting along with others, self-reliance, new skills, and fitness into fun, safe activities. Regular meetings are led by qualified, trained volunteers and provide a variety of experiences for boys from all backgrounds. Cub Scouting also encourages strong family involvement, so it’s good for the boys and their parents, too!
After Cub Scouts, boys can move up to the Boy Scout program, which has a greater emphasis on the outdoors and camping, decision-making, service, teamwork, and leadership. As boys 11−18 progress through the program, they take on greater responsibilities and are introduced to a wide variety of potential career and leisure opportunities. Some Scouts’ involvement culminates in the Eagle Scout award, an achievement including the leadership of a major community improvement project. Many colleges and employers recognize the accomplishments of Eagle Scouts in their acceptance or hiring decisions.
Older youth—boys and girls, 14−20—can take part in Venturing, a program which puts youth leadership at the forefront and focuses on outdoor adventures.
To find out more about the programs—and the benefits for youth and families—offered by the Boy Scouts of America, visit www.scouting.org
To find a Cub Scout Pack or Boy Scout Troop in your neighborhood, visit www.BeAScout.org or call the Old Hickory Council at 336-760-2900. “Join Scouting” nights will be held all over Forsyth County in September of 2016.