Scout Law states, “A Scout is trustworthy, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.” For the Boy Scout Troop and Cub Scout Pack No. 747 of Leland, it’s all about these values and so much more.
“It builds future leaders of the world,” Scout Master Dennis Harp said of the troop. “It gives them a safe haven to go explore different things.”
Those things, such as administering First Aid, tying secure knots, or learning personal finance skills, are just some of the must-haves when it comes to the Boy Scouts of America’s Core 12 merit badges. Leland scouts also have had the opportunities to explore such areas as nuclear energy, boating safety, world conservation and even journalism with WECT’s Jon Evans.
Scouts giving back
Among available adventures for scouts, it is perhaps the experience in becoming a great citizen that has the biggest impact. Harp stressed the importance of Boy Scouts helping their community.
“It builds character,” Harp said.
Following Hurricane Matthew, the 747 boys and cubs devoted a service project to cleaning up debris at the Brunswick Riverwalk in Belville. Cub Scouts sparked the efforts, which impressed the Town of Belville and prompted officials to task both Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts from 747 to complete the large-scale clean-up. Scouts were commended for their efforts by the Town of Belville.
As the stretch of the Cape Fear River at the Riverwalk is in fact a fishery, scouts waited until low tide to work through the marsh. Harp said it was a superb lesson in showing the young men how littering effects our bodies of water.
Scouts in 747 have seized multiple chances to help the community. “We help out with community service projects because it’s part of ‘doing the right thing’ when there’s the right opportunity,” Harp said.
Cub Scout Master Ken Kasten was also proud of the pack’s clean-up project at the outdoor classroom at Westgate Nature Park. They took the time to clean up trash and random construction tools (such as an abandoned circular saw) in the wooded nature area under the classroom deck.
“We support the town in our own way,” Kasten said. “Everyone can appreciate where they live; it gives you a sense of ownership to your community in wanting to take care of it.
Kasten talked about his Cub Scouts refurbishing the horseshoe pits at Magnolia Greens. They pulled an overgrowth of weeds and put down fresh sand, while also replacing damaged or missing poles.
“We didn’t look for recognition,” Kasten emphasized, “We are teaching about acting on our core beliefs.”
Scout Oath states “On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.”
“It’s a value thing,” Harp said. “This is a lifestyle; not just a set of words.”
Kasten said what the school system lacks in terms of civics, scouting can provide. And these are important tools to develop citizenship. There is an emphasis on becoming good citizens of community, nation, and world.
Premium on leadership
Ultimately, the vision of Boy Scouts involves preparing these young men to be leaders. From Cub Scouts on up, each scout has opportunities to learn leadership skills whether they be Cub Scouts assisting den leaders with meetings as a “denner” or becoming a “patrol leader” in the exclusively “boy-led” ranks of the Boy Scouts.
Worth billions of dollars in net worth, Business Insider recognized a dozen of the world’s most acclaimed leaders’ involvement in Scouts. A handful of big names held scout status at various ranks:
- Barack Obama, Cub Scout
- George W. Bush, Cub Scout
- Ron Hubbard, Eagle Scout
- Bill Gates, Eagle Scout and Silver Buffalo Award Recipient
- Sam Walton, Eagle Scout
- Michael Bloomberg, Eagle Scout
- Ross Perot, Eagle Scout
- Charles F. Dolan, Distinguished Eagle Scout
- Stephen Spielberg, Distinguished Eagle Scout
Service, leadership, and loyalty have been driving forces in the 747 ranks. Harp and Kasten stressed commitment to these values leads to opportunities for growth. “It’s how you develop a leader,” Harp said. “You go out and practice.”
According to the National Eagle Scout Association, roughly five percent of Boy Scouts achieve the rank of Eagle Scout. Kasten and Harp explained the critical nature of commitment to public service on behalf of scouts who strive for the Eagle distinguishment.
It takes a village
Pitching tents, camping out under the stars, and building campfires would not be possible without the adults who have invested in the scouts of 747. Kasten explained that about a year and a half ago, Cub Scouts received a “radical transformation” into what he described as “Boys Scouts Light.” Mostly, the revision of things put the focus on preparing cubs to be Boy Scouts.
“I feel like when they changed the program, they wanted to give families a chance to see what Boy Scouts is like,” Kasten said.
He stressed the importance of understanding the encouragement and support required for activities and the lifestyle in general. Whether it is teaching cubs how to responsibly use fire as a tool or demonstrating knife safety via “the blood circle,” adults and families have an essential influence in Cub Scouts.
As for Boy Scouts, adult leaders play more of a guidance role in the “boy-led” ranks of scouting. “We do push them sometimes,” Harp said. “Ultimately, it’s still up to them.”
Even so, Harp agreed that “it takes a village” in terms of developing citizens out of Boy Scouts. With such a wide range of careers ahead of them, Harp explained the crucial aspect of enlisting local professionals in various specialties to teach scouts. “We rely on the community a lot to teach,” Harp explained. “We’re relying on the community because that’s what it’s all about.
In return, Harp added that his scouts are always prepared to help when it comes to the Leland area and beyond.
“We’re here,” Harp said. “Let us know what we can do to help you.”
Boy Scout Troop 747 is chartered to Closer Walk United Methodist Church at 117 Village Road, where they meet weekly. Cub Scout Pack 747 attends pack meetings there as well and meets weekly for den meetings at Belville Elementary School. Also contributing to service in the area is the Boy Scout Troop 750 of Maco.