Keeping with tradition

Kelly Pickerel

98 years strong, Boy Scouts of America continues to thrive

Neil Armstrong. Hank Aaron. Jim Morrison. Steven Spielberg. John F. Kennedy.

All popular figures throughout American history, but also just five of the 111 million males who call themselves Boy Scouts.

Ninety-eight years ago today, William D. Boyce formed the Boy Scouts of America after meeting with Robert Baden-Powell, the British founder of Boy Scouts. Baden-Powell started his organization three years earlier, and the popularity has picked up throughout the world and continues to grow.

According to the Boy Scouts of America’s Web site, as of Dec. 31, 2006, there are about 2.8 million youth and 1.1

million adult members active in the United States.

Greg Beca, sophomore computer science major, said he sees those numbers continuing to grow.

A Boy Scout himself since a young age, Beca said he believes more parents want a positive experience shaping their sons’ lives.

“Families now like to have an out-source influence on a child,” he said. “Not everyone turns to sports. Some want scouting.”

Turning to scouting doesn’t mean the child is taking the easy way out, Beca said.

“When people think of boy scouts, they think, ‘Oh, going on camp-outs, making mac and cheese and learning to tie knots,’ but it’s a lot more than that,” he said.

Beca, who is an Eagle Scout – the highest rank a scout can achieve – said participating in Boy Scouts has greatly influenced his life.

“Looking back at my teenage years, I gained a lot more than a high school degree,” he said. “I met new people. I participated in more things. I accomplished something really big. I didn’t spend my weekends with homework and video games.”

Boy scouting typically ends after high school, but it is possible to continue on in the program throughout early adult years. Venturing, a section in scouting available to those up to 21 years old, offers a higher level of adventure to scouts.

“We do have a couple members at the college level,” said Julia Euclide,

Venture Crew adviser of Crew 2257 based in Kent. “There’s a greater percentage of high school kids, though. We have a winter ski trip, and a lot more (college students) come back for that.”

Elliot Bennett, district executive of the Seneca District/Portage County area, said it’s hard for scouts to stay involved with the organization once in college.

“College studies come in priority,” he said, “and if they move away, it’s hard to stay in touch (with local troops).”

Beca said he agreed it is a struggle to stay involved.

“When you turn 18, you can become an adult leader, but you can’t advance anymore,” he said. “I was involved until I came to Kent. I helped out the other scouts. Troop 101 (from Warren, Ohio) had such a strong influence on me. If I could scramble up some time, I would come back and help with leadership.”

Dick Fallon, sophomore physical education major, has found time to continue with the program. Now in his 14th year with the association, Fallon works with scouts in Hudson and Cuyahoga Falls.

“I’m an assistant scout master and a camp councilor,” he said. “For now, I’m working with kids trying to get their Eagle.”

While working at summer camps, Fallon said he helped with lifeguarding and swimming activities and plans to help with fishing and sailing this summer.

Bennet said many options are available to scouts who want to stay with the program, including assistant leaders and camp councilors.

“A degree of involvement is always open for them as adults,” he said, but the problem is just finding time.

Although Fallon has found time to help out, he said he knows college students are always busy.

“Sometimes people come back to assist scout masters during winter breaks,” he said. “Once college is over, it all depends on where life leads them.

“I’d like to stay involved. Even if I do go south (after graduation), I’ll still try to stay involved and help kids.”

No matter where life leads him, Fallon will be in good company with millions of scouts located across the country and the world.

Contact features editor Kelly Pickerel at [email protected].