Scouting’s Lasting Impact Through the Power of Showing Up

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Nathan Finnin, Eagle Scout and Episcopal priest, has stayed involved in the Scouting program in various ways, including Southern Region Chief of Order of the Arrow and chaplain for the Old North State Council. He currently serves on the Executive Board assisting with fundraising. He and his wife Kaitlin have a 3-year-old son, Beckett. Here is Nathan’s Scouting story in his own words:

 

 

“I started Scouting in the second grade. My father was active military and was gone a fair amount. We always had a fine relationship, but I didn’t have a whole lot of ‘just me and dad’ stuff to do. Scouting gave me an opportunity to have what I considered to be traditional father-son time.

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“I stayed in the Cub Scouting program through fifth grade and then quit. In the eighth grade, I got back in simply because a friend asked me. It’s one thing for a stranger to come to your school to do recruiting, but it’s another thing for that person who is already a part of your life to say, ‘Hey, I enjoy this. Would you like to come with me?’

“Shortly after I got back into Scouting, my mom died unexpectedly. I was 14. Scouts were the people who showed up. They brought food, made sure I was signed up for camping trips and summer camp, and made my sister feel welcome so we could do family things together. They were the people who supported my dad in ways I don’t even think I was aware of as a kid. They loved my family back to wholeness.

“After I got my Eagle, I stayed in Scouting for the Order of the Arrow program. There was an advisor named John who really became a surrogate dad. He really helped me learn a lot and become an adult man.

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“A couple of years ago, they had a training at the Scout office. I was there with my son (who was an infant), and in through the doors walk John. I had this emotional experience of sitting there as an adult, holding my son, and seeing this man who was such an important part of my life growing up and feeling, ‘He made this possible.’

“It was a really powerful feeling of appreciation. I went up to him afterwards to introduce my son. I’ve got a picture of the three of us framed on my desk in my office. For me, it was an embodied feeling of the power of Scouting.

“Part of the reason why I’m involved now even though I don’t have a child who is old enough to be in Scouting is that I get to be a part of what Scouting does, to provide a community that helps raise young men. It gave me so much more than I’ll ever be able to give back. The least I can do is find opportunities to be involved. I feel almost a sense of duty.

“What’s really amazing about Scouting is that it has the opportunity to impact lives in small ways that eventually become big. Maybe I can pass on this gift that I was given by people who didn’t even know what they were doing at the time. It’s not like somebody moved into my house and cooked dinner every night or came in saying, ‘I’m going to change his future.’ But it was a bunch of people doing really small acts that made a difference.

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“Sometimes it’s easy to look at the brokenness and need in our community and think, ‘I can’t fix this.’ The reality is that we don’t have to fix it by ourselves. Scouting provides a framework where we can take little chunks out of it at a time and accomplish something. I’ve gotten to experience it through every stage of Scouting as a Boy Scout and as an adult, and hopefully I’ll get to experience it as a Scouting parent.”

If you are interested in learning more about getting involved with the “Scouting Movement” in the Old North State Council, click here…

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Can volunteering as a Scouting leader make you a better parent?

In 2009, Josh Rubio signed up his then first grader for Cub Scouts…and ended up immediately becoming a parent volunteer.

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“They mentioned that one of the parents needed to step up,” he remembers. “When nobody took the lead, I decided that I would. I’ve been in leadership ever since.” Josh and son Jacob started their Scouting adventure together.

Of course, Josh wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I wanted to have father-son moments,” Josh says. “Jacob was a year-and-a-half old when we divorced. This was the perfect outlet for me to have one-on-one quality time with him aside from picking him up and running around.”

rubio2Providing leadership with other parents didn’t get in the way of that goal either, particularly on camping trips. “At the end of the night, it was still me and Jacob in a tent,” Josh says. “We could read a story, write in our journal, and keep track of all of our accomplishments whether it was belt loops or merit badges.”

As Jacob grew…and Josh’s volunteer responsibilities increased…the Scouting program still met that initial need for father-son bonding. “In the Boy Scout years, they tend to go off with their group,” Josh says. “But for me, it was great. I really enjoyed the recap at the end of the night in the tent.”

rubio3And Josh takes advantage of the many perks of being an adult leader. “I enjoyed summer camp,” he says. “What 40-year-old gets to go shoot rifles, shoot arrows, build fires, eat smores, and sing campfire songs? Every night I got to swim, play, and enjoy it with my son.”

He is also a first-hand witness of the many ways Jacob has grown and matured. “I’m really proud that my son has been able to achieve things,” Josh says. “I’ve seen a difference in him.”

Sometimes it’s the little things. “At home, he tends to be a little more comfortable or lazy than he is outside of the home,” he says. Josh had given Jacob a new hammock, and when he wanted to set it up, Josh had things to finish before helping him.

“He said, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll come and get you.’ Then I realized he had never come to get me, and I peeked my head outside, and he’s already got it hung up and tied with his knots and everything.”

It made Josh proud to see Jacob taking initiative at home the way he does at Scouting activities. “Here he was doing it on his own, and to me, that was great. Sometimes I feel like I’ve got to watch over him, but then I realize he’s ok. It lets me step back and help another kid who might need that attention. He’s made me proud seeing him do things on his own.”

Other times it’s the bigger life lessons Jacob learns with his fellow Scouts. “My son plays football, he’s the sporty kid,” Josh says. “But he’ll sit down at a campfire and talk to somebody that might be in a totally different social environment than him.”

Helping all kids feel included is a Scouting value Josh imparts to all of the boys. “It’s a very diverse group of kids,” he says. “They all come together for the purpose of trying to prepare for life and to be better citizens. To me, that’s been a unique experience that I can’t find anywhere else. I feel really good about the fact that we cultivate an environment where the boys feel that comfortable.”

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Today Josh serves as Scoutmaster of his son’s troop and hopes to encourage other parents to take that first step to volunteer. “I would encourage anybody to get involved if they have any interest but are intimidated by the unknown,” he says. “It’s very organized for you. You pull together with different adults to make it happen.

“I don’t have to be an outdoor woodsman or a green beret knowing knots and how to start a fire,” he adds. “I can just be a regular father who works every day and has other commitments. I can still get involved and learn as I go through it with my son.”

Explore the opportunity to volunteer:

Local Scout Earns National Medal for Outdoor Achievement and “Grand Slam of High Adventure Award”

willett.jpgEagle Scout James Michael Willett of Asheboro Troop 527 recently received the rare National Medal for Outdoor Achievement and the coveted “Grand Slam of National High Adventure Award” from the Boy Scouts of America.

The National Medal for Outdoor Achievement is the highest recognition a Boy Scout can earn for displaying exemplary knowledge, experience and skill in high-level outdoor activities. Willett achieved the award in the areas of camping, hiking, adventure, riding, conservation and aquatics.

Among the various requirements needed to achieve this award, Willett camped over 125 nights, backpacked over 200 miles, bicycled over 200 miles, took Wilderness First Aid training, completed the mile swim, and completed his Open Water Scuba Diving Certification.

Michael recently returned from serving as a member of a Northern Tier High Adventure Base crew in northern Minnesota. His completion of this 7-day canoe adventure qualifies Willett to earn the “Grand Slam of High Adventure Award”.

Small_Grand-Slam-Large-PatchThe “Grand Slam Award” is a national award program honoring those few Scouts who have successfully completed a trek at each of the four National High Adventure Bases operated by the Boy Scouts of America.

Willett’s recent wilderness adventure began July 9, 2017 as a member of the Northern Tier Crew. The crew of six Scouts and two adult leaders shared three canoes, which carried all of their gear plus all of their food for the full trip. During the trip, the crew canoed and portaged through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness of Minnesota.

Willett also served as a crew member at the Florida Sea Base High Adventure Base in 2014 with Boy Scout Troop 527 from Asheboro, NC. This adventure included living on 40 foot sailboat for 6 days and learning hands-on sailing skills. During the adventure the crew spent their days fishing and snorkeling throughout the Florida Keys.

In 2016, Willett completed a 12 day backpacking trek at Philmont Scout Ranch in northern New Mexico. The crew from Ramseur, led by Scoutmaster Tommy Boyd of Troop 508, trekked over 100 miles carrying all their gear and food for several days at a time. Willett and the crew hiked to the top of Baldy Mountain (12,441 feet) during their trek.  Their itinerary included stops at camps offering activities such as black-powder rifle shooting, rock climbing and rappelling, and gold mining. Philmont is BSA’s second-oldest High Adventure base and covers more than 214 square miles of rugged terrain.

After returning from Philmont, Michael then spent the following week attending the “Order of the Arrow Summit Experience” program for 8 days at the Paul R. Christen High Adventure Base in West Virginia. During this time, Michael spent five days backpacking and building trails in the New River Gorge National River Area. The remaining days included whitewater rafting on the New River, along with mountain biking, climbing, and participation in other Summit activities.  The highlight of the Summit Experience is completing the “Big Zip” – a 3⁄4 mile long zip line which takes riders at speeds nearing 50 mph over a valley and Bravo Lake. This is one of the longest zip line courses in all of North America.

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For more information about the National Outdoor Award, please visit   http://www.scouting.org/Home/BoyScouts/Youth/Awards/NOA.aspx

For more information about the Grand Slam of National High Adventure, please visit https://www.nationalhighadventureawards.org/

Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.

philmont3A Scout is friendly.

That aspect of the Scout Law has had a huge impact on one local family. Around the time that Ben and Heather Pardue’s two sons, Evan and Holden, were diagnosed with autism several years ago, they noticed a shift in their friendships.

“We stopped getting invited to birthday parties,” Ben remembers. “There were so many friends who we used to do all kinds of things with, and as our kids’ behaviors began to take over, it made other people feel uncomfortable. It hurts when you feel excluded from things.”

Heather recognized Evan’s love of the outdoors and suggested learning more about the Scouting program. They met with a Cubmaster at the school’s open house and were invited to try out a meeting. “The Boy Scouts were super receptive to our situation and made us feel wanted,” Ben says. “The den leader said, ‘I don’t know anything about autism, but I’m willing to do whatever if you’ll help me.'”

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At their very first Cub family campout, Evan had a rough first night. Wanting to do things already designated for others, he threw a loud fit. Ben calmed him down and other leaders made accommodations for Evan to feel more involved, then something suddenly clicked for him.

“Evan realized he needed to follow the rules and do what was expected,” Ben says. “He said, ‘If I want to do these things, I have to have the behavior to do them.’ He has never had any behavior issues after that.”

philmont2When it came time for Evan to move up into Boy Scouts, Ben was told about troops geared more toward kids with special needs. But Evan had grown close to the boys in his pack and wanted to stay with his friends. Ben even pointed out that the troop was “pretty hard core” and went camping often. Evan was not deterred.

Neither was Ben. He became more involved as a leader and went camping as often as possible. Evan would enjoy all of the daytime activities with the other boys and then tent at night with his dad. During summer camp, Ben would drive up each evening after work to spend the night and hear about Evan’s many adventures.

“I remember the stories I had heard of Evan being scared of jumping on The Blob,” Ben says. “Every kid, every life guard there knew him, and they cheered for him to jump. One of the assistant Scoutmasters there that week told me the story of how he finally did it and how proud Evan was.”

rainPerhaps one of their most vivid memories occurred on a joint trip to Philmont Scout Ranch. Evan’s troop was on-site to complete a service project when a major storm overtook them. Hail, rain, and lightning forced the group under a dining fly, their only shelter.

Suddenly Evan and the boys started singing Scouting songs.

“Everyone was so cold and wet,” remembers Ben. “The boys’ singing kind of put a silver lining on such a tough, hard position that we were in.”

eagleIt’s a moment symbolic of their own family’s journey. Caught in unexpected circumstances, they have witnessed their son respond in amazing ways to the comradery and adventure offered by the Boy Scouts.

“Boy Scouts is definitely Evan’s thing,” Ben says. “It’s his sports, his social interaction…it’s what he lives for. He loves telling me things that he learned in Scouts.”

Ben has gained a lot, as well. “My best friends are the other Scout leaders and parents,” he says. Ben is now an assistant Scoutmaster.

Evan has reached the rank of Eagle Scout, but he still wants to do more. His Scoutmaster is starting up a sea Scout crew for young men up to the age of 21. Evan, currently 16, is very excited about it. He also has enough merit badges for his first palm.

Growing and Learning Life Lessons as a Camp Staff Member

Blog-1The Scouting program changes lives. Testimonials from our young emerging leaders and their grateful parents prove it. But that’s only part of the story.

Staff members also experience great things through their service in Scouting. Just ask Lindsey Murphy.
Five years ago, Lindsey contemplated how to spend her summer during her break from college. “My cousin was the program director at Camp Cherokee, and she somehow talked me into working at camp for the summer,” Lindsey remembers. “I had never done anything like it before.”

In her youth, Lindsey had visited Camp Cherokee while her brother participated in Boy Scouts. “It wasn’t a foreign place,” she says. “But the idea of being outside all the time and not having any clue of how things are set up [was intimidating].”

Blog-7It took less than a week for Lindsey to get hooked. “Growing up I was super shy,” she says. “It wasn’t until the later part of high school that I began to break out of that shell. Then that first week working at Cherokee, my cousin said, ‘Lindsey, you’ve never been like that before.’ Scouting definitely allowed me to come out of my shell more.”

She also marveled at what camp meant to the boys. “It’s a safe haven,” she says. “They have so much fun and learn and create lifelong memories. It blows my mind how a place can do that for people. It’s a second home.”

One summer turned into two, then she served again right after college graduation. When summer plans changed for the fourth summer, she accepted the new challenge of program director at Camp Woodfield, which Lindsey has done for the past two years.

“Being a program director, you see camp in a different way,” Lindsey says. “It’s cool getting to see what camp does for people, from our volunteers to our staff to our campers and even the families when they come.”

Lindsey’s also thankful for the impact on herself. “It has allowed me to really learn how to communicate with people,” she says. “At camp, you are interacting with someone who just got out of the fifth grade all the way up to someone who is in their 60s, and the way you relate and connect is completely different. It has taught me to have an awareness and is one of the biggest things that Scouting has done for me.”

Lindsey’s camp experiences have been so positive, it’s difficult to choose her favorite memory. “At Cherokee, it would have to be helping with the Breakfast Club,” she says. “We would get up at 5:30 on Friday mornings to cook breakfast for the Scoutmasters. We had a blast getting to serve them. It was my way to give back.

Blog-8“At Woodfield, my favorite memory is Organized Mass Chaos, the messiest, craziest game,” she continues. “One year we had a camper who had cerebral palsy and had a walker. Normally in other activities, he would get to do half as much as what other kids got to do. This game allowed him to play. He was laughing the entire time. It made me realize that what we’re doing is so completely worth it.”

Lindsey has many reasons why her time at camp has been worth every early morning, every hot afternoon, every bug bite. And why she’s so glad her cousin convinced her to give it a try. “Camp has done so much for me,” Lindsey says. “It is such a special place. I can’t imagine my life without it.”

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Why Scouting?

Scouting offers quality time with your children and builds lasting friendships for youth and adults

sr1It’s the sound no driver wants to hear.

Scott Richardson, navigating a vehicle full of Boy Scouts and camping gear, turned to see that one of the boys had gotten sick in his car. He pulled over to try to clean up the mess in the pouring rain.

But the group persevered to their destination and continued with their weekend. “Afterwards you look back and laugh, and it turns into a great memory,” Scott says. “We had a great time on that camping trip.”

Road trip illnesses aside, it’s a worthwhile sacrifice to make the time and muster the motivation to take a group of boys into the great outdoors several weekends throughout the year.

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“Every Friday I leave [for a camping trip] thinking that I have so much I need to do at home, but every Sunday I come home and say, ‘Wow, I’m so glad I did this,'” Scott says.

Scott already knew the benefits of the Scouting program when he signed up his two sons, Sam and Ben. “It was a big part of my life growing up,” he says. “I really enjoyed the whole process of being outdoors and learning.”

Being a Boy Scout helped him become the man he is today. “I wasn’t a very confident kid,” Scott remembers. “The different merit badges and the recognition with the advancement gave me confidence. It helped me later in life to reach the next level.

“It’s a great training program, particularly if you have engaged adults,” Scott adds.

Those adult leaders shaped Scott’s Scouting experiences. “The participation from the adults was key to our troop’s success,” he says. “You could count on them. They were good teachers. They liked to see the boys advance and gain skills.”

sr4Scott sees the same commitment now in his fellow volunteers. “My boys have said that the Scoutmasters and leaders that we have are some of the nicest people you’d ever meet in your life,” Scott says. “That’s the type of people I want my kids around.

“I think it’s valuable that [my sons] can have other role models to look up to as a network of people to teach them preparedness, safety, citizenship, and service to the community.”

Scott urges other parents to not just sign their kids up for the program, but to get involved themselves. “You don’t realize the impact that it can have on a kid until later. I wouldn’t have the memories that I have with my boys without these trips. What better way to enjoy the outdoors and spend time with your kids than [through] Scouting?”

He has two main reasons why serving as an adult leader is worth the time and effort. “I’m with my kids and seeing them develop,” Scott says. “It’s great alone time, and I’m not distracted. The other [reason] is the other adults that I’m with. We share common interests, and there’s a bond there.”

Building friendships, developing character, and learning skills for life…it’s the Scouting way.

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To find out more about Scouting in your local community, visit www.BeAScout.org

Join today and grow your family through Scouting!

Making Memories and Growing Together Through Scouting

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Tammy Boggs, a single mom and new Scoutmaster, has proudly watched her son Zac, 15, face many challenges in life, including his autism. She attributes the Scouting program – and the people involved – with the changes she’s seen not only in her son, but also herself. In her own words, she shares their story which began about five years ago:

One of Zac’s friends invited him to one of those “Bring-a-Friend nights” and introduced him to Scouting. It was nice to be in an environment [where] there were men that he could really look up to, men that had common interests, that love the outdoors like my son loves the outdoors.

Those men welcomed him in. I gave them all of the information upfront, like how to tell if he is going to have an issue, and they did really well. There were very few bumps in the road, and when there was a bump, they handled it really professionally and just treated him like a second son.

In the Boy Scouts, they expect something of you. They hold you to a higher standard. Zac needed that. But they also affirmed him for doing what he was supposed to do, and he needed that, too. The focus is not just on the boys but on others. Think of how you can help others. Think of what you can do for others.

He learned responsibility for his own actions. He got that male affirmation. It helped him grow and mature in a way that I think a life without Scouting would not have. It has given him men that will stand up for him and be there for him. I can’t say enough for the program.

Zac even went to the National Jamboree this year, which scared me a little bit because he is autistic. I worried he would get upset about the crowds knowing his sensitivities. When we were discussing it, I said, “Are you sure you want to do this? I don’t want to have to drive all that way to come and get you.” He said, “Mom, I’ve got to try it some time. If I go off to college, I need to know I can handle it.”

He was testing his independence. When you have a child who has difficulties at times, it’s priceless to see that growth and him being able to say “I can do this.”

He’s very proud of being a Scout. If he thinks that much of it, of course I’m going to think that much of it. I see the confidence. My son, with all of his history of problems and teasing and being bullied at school, became an Eagle Scout.

For me, I went from not camping to going on campouts with Boy Scouts to now I’m the Scoutmaster. [The program] has supported my love of the outdoors, my belief in my country, my patriotism. It keeps me young! I’m not a couch potato, and I like that.

boggs1Last year I  did something totally unnatural. Neither of us had been out West, so we packed our tents and our sleeping bags and went camping at Yellowstone National Park. We spent the whole week hiking and looking at the wildlife. It’s the most amazing place I’ve ever been in the world. We even “enjoyed” a bear scare! It wasn’t funny at the time, but we laugh about it now.

Scouting gave us the opportunity to do something we wouldn’t have done. It’s a memory neither one of us will forget. You can get a hotel room anywhere, but when you go somewhere totally different, pop a tent…it’s just a whole other world. Talk about quality time! boggs2

The boys think a parent is more open out camping than they are in their living rooms. They appreciate you being there, and I wish more parents knew that. Once they’re grown and gone, you can’t go back. I want no regrets.

I love the Scouting program! I see so much positivity in it. You can watch the boys grow up and mature. There’s a type of brotherhood there. I’m in for as long as those boys needs me. Given the condition of our world today, people not caring about race, creed, color, or whatever who are all coming together to do one goal…to me there’s nothing better than that.