A Scouting Family: Summer Camp is About More than Merit Badges

To learn more about the Blackburn family and their Scouting story, please read part 1 of this blog post.

When Elizabeth and Mike Blackburn’s son Chris became a Boy Scout, their daughter Julia joined in on some of his activities.

Julia wearing one of her favorite sweat shirts
Julia in her favorite sweatshirt

“I went on outings with my brother’s Scout troop,” Julia says. “Any time I would go anywhere, I would learn something new and get to do something interesting.

“It wasn’t just a group of boys meeting together. [The leaders] were helping instruct them to learn life lessons, like leadership, and things that they will keep with them forever.”

A trip to Cherokee Scout Reservation opened the door to greater involvement.

“Julia tagged along on Family Night,” Elizabeth remembers. “We saw that there were girls working at Camp Cherokee. I asked her, ‘Are you interested in doing this?’”

She was. Julia applied and got a job the following summer.

“The entire experience was positive,” Julia says. “I learned a whole lot more than I ever thought that I would.”

In the beginning, she was a little unsure. “I was really nervous that first week,” she says. “I had to make up my own lesson plans, and that was a little hard because I had never done any sort of teaching before.”

Julia - William asking for help (Eagle Scout -now a Marine)
Julia teaching class at Cherokee Scout Reservation.

Getting out of her comfort zone, though, was worth it. “I’m not used to standing in front of people like that,” Julia says. “It was definitely a new experience. I’m usually a very quiet person. But it was a whole lot of fun. You could just see that all of the campers had a great time.”

Julia was surprised by how much more there was to summer camp than she originally thought. “It was a lot more than just teaching merit badges,” she says. “It was also understanding the kids, getting to know them.

“And even though I had been camping my whole life, I learned about survival skills and things you don’t get from tent camping. It was a lot of work, but also a lot of learning.”

She easily saw why campers and leaders alike want to come back each year. “I had such a good experience between getting to know the people there and learning everything,” Julia remembers. “I wanted to participate in all of the excitement and fun again, so I did.”

Chris project complete
Chris working on Camp Staff at Cherokee Scout Reservation

She returned for a second summer, and her brother also worked as a camp staff member. “I had just as good of an experience the next summer, if not better,” Julia says. “It’s thrilling to know that you put all of this effort into it and get so much out of it.”

Their mother was also pleased by the bond created by working together at camp. “It really made my kids closer together,” Elizabeth says.

Julia’s summers as a camp staff member only deepened her appreciation of the Scouting program. “There are a lot of reasons why I love the Boy Scouts,” Julia says. “It’s about being on teams and making friends. It’s a string of experiences and memories that you’ll keep with you forever.

“It’s something that every child should be able to experience.”

FleurDeLis_SMI_Stacked_800x410Family scouting launches August 1 welcoming girls into Cub Scouting (grade K-5).  The older Girl Troop program will begin February 1, 2019. To join Scouts visit beascout.org or contact the Old North State Council Service Center at 336 378-9166 or bsaonsc.org/joinscouts.html

To learn more about the Blackburn family and their Scouting story, please read part 1 of this blog post.


A Scouting Family: Advancement is About More than Rank

This blog post is the first of two about a local Scouting family. Mike and Elizabeth Blackburn and their two grown children, Julia and Chris, have all been involved in the Scouting program at various times in their lives.

Elizabeth Blackburn wasn’t going to let the young man fail to finish what he started.

He had been away from their Boy Scout troop, living with a brother in California. Upon his return to North Carolina, Elizabeth decided to give him a little push.

“I said, ‘Look at the clock, you still have time to make Eagle,’” she says. “I plotted it out. ‘If you do this by then and this by then, you can make it.’ Two days before his 18th birthday, he turned in his Eagle book.

“Now he’s in the Army,” she says. “He told me, ‘Thank you. I understand now.’”

Eagle -UNC, Eagle -UNCG, Eagle-Marine, ME, Soon to be Eagle-accepted to UNC, Eagle- Army.
Pictured are Eagle Scouts and one soon to be Eagle Scouts from Troop 55.  Their moms could not attend family night at scout camp, so Elizabeth was mom for the night.

Elizabeth had just done the same with her own son Chris. “I said, ‘You’re so close, you’ve got to finish,’” she remembers. “It wasn’t that he wanted to stop, he was just dragging his feet.”

Her role as advancement chair displays Elizabeth’s deep commitment to helping others. “Our boys from our troop feel like our family,” she says. Guiding them toward success – however that looks for them – keeps her coming back now that her own children have entered adulthood.

Her family knows firsthand how the Scouting program has helped them all grow, develop, and advance.

Mike and Elizabeth Blackburn

As a youth, her husband Mike achieved the rank of Life Scout. Elizabeth participated in a service-oriented, co-ed fraternity founded on the principles of the Scouting program. When they married and had children, their shared love of the outdoors – and those Scouting values — overflowed.


“We had always been interested in hiking, camping, biking, all of that kind of stuff,” says Elizabeth. “We started taking our kids hiking and camping when they were young.”

Those outings provided ample opportunities to teach lessons and responsibility while enjoying time together. When their son Chris asked to join the Boy Scouts following an invitation from a friend, it was a natural fit. Elizabeth joined in, too, assisting the troop in various capacities.

“They learn so much,” Elizabeth says. “They learn how to take care of things and the value of life. My husband says, ‘I remember how to do this, I learned it in the Scouts!’ It’s amazing the stuff he’s still using.”

Chris when he was tagged out for OA
Chris when he was tapped out for OA
chris working on prject
Chris and his dad working on his Eagle project










Chris and Mike have applied those lessons together on annual summer trips, Elizabeth shares. “My husband and son have spent 5 years hiking sections of the Appalachian Trail,” she says. “They just walk and talk and connect through that.”

Julia teaching in Handicraft
Julia teaching in Handicraft

Chris and his older sister Julia have also bonded through Scouting. She worked at Camp Cherokee for 2 summers, one while Chris was a camper and the next when he became a counselor in training. “It really made my kids close,” Elizabeth says. (For more on Julia’s story, watch for part 2 of this blog post coming soon.)

What Scouting has provided for the Blackburns, they want others to experience, too. Life skills, lifelong memories, and a sense of achievement are all within reach no matter the rank.

Sometimes all you need is a little push.


Here is our Foreign Exchange Student - Johannes from Germany He enjoyed scouts so much. He said it was his favorite thing about coming to America
Troop 55 Foreign Exchange Student – Johannes from Germany. He enjoyed scouts so much he said it was his favorite thing about coming to America.

Do you want to help develop insecure adolescents into contributing, confident adults? Learn more here about volunteer opportunities near you.

24 brain surgeries later, NC teen graduates with his class

Nick one day hopes to get into the medical field so he can help others who have been in his shoes.


ASHEBORO, N.C. — The cap and gown are hung up and ready to go.

“I’m just so overjoyed and just so excited I can’t even explain to you how we feel,” said Lora Griffin.

She’s a proud parent. Her son Nicholas is graduating from Uwharrie Charter Academy Friday night. He’s one of the top in his class.

“School was one of those things I could do well,” Nick explained.

But it’s that smart brain of his that put some hurdles in his path. Nick has been dealing with hydrocephalus all his life. It’s a condition that causes fluid to build up in the brain. The only way to treat it is brain surgery.

To date, Nick has had 24 surgeries, all before graduating high school.

“I was considered the sick kid. Even up until last year people were like are you new here?” he said.

Over the years, he’s spent a lot of time in the hospital, but he never took a break from his school work. And his hard work goes beyond academics; he also plays lacrosse and has earned the Eagle Scout designation.

“That means a lot to me because not many people get that award,” Nick explained. “I could’ve easily given up because when I started, I kept on having surgeries and the condition kept on getting in the way and when I finally got the Eagle Scout that kind of gave it a validation of why I did it.”

There were times when Nick wasn’t given much hope. But he’s proven people–and even some of his doctors–wrong.

“I’m very proud of him,” Lora said. “He’s one of the strongest people I know.”

There’s a chance Nick could need another surgery, but for now he’s healthy with graduation and college on his mind.

“We just knew that his life was more than being the sick kid,” Lora said. “That he was more than that.”

Nick plans to go to UNC-Chapel Hill in the fall to study chemistry. One day he hopes to get into the medical field, so he can help others who have been in his shoes.

Merit Badges to Medical Professional – One Scout’s Unique Leadership Path


Ask successful leaders what first inspired them to embark on their journeys toward achievement and you’ll hear a wide variety of answers. It’s not often you learn that it started with a cartoon.

But that’s exactly what Eagle Scout and local nursing student Christian Prescott would tell you.

As a youth, he regularly watched a Scout-like cartoon on television, intrigued by rewards the characters received after completing tasks. “I remember watching that with friends and thinking that would be really cool to earn badges for camping or hiking or cooking,’” Christian says.

Although he and his mom checked into several different programs, Christian didn’t find the type of experience he was looking for. “You go, you have fun, and then you go back home,” he says. He craved that repeated satisfaction of working toward a goal, succeeding, and moving on to the next goal.

Then he saw a sign. Literally.

“We were driving and saw a Boy Scout sign on the side of the road,” Christian remembers. “We were thinking, ‘Ok, Boy Scouts are going to have badges.’ The signs led us to this church where they were signing up people for Scouting. It worked out with perfect timing.”


However, Christian’s earliest experiences were far from perfect. “I was completely new at that point,” he says of his start as an eighth grader. “Being around a bunch of new people wasn’t a problem, but the biggest challenge was not being prepared.”


Christian had little experience camping and didn’t know the ins and outs of gear and strategies to withstand the elements. “I didn’t really know you should bring a little pad to go under your sleeping bag or bring multiple layers of clothes,” he says. “I didn’t have the right socks so when we went hiking, I would get blisters. I honestly wanted to give up on it.”

He persevered. That and he visited a local store specializing in outdoor activities. It made a world of difference.

“We got the right socks and the right type of sleeping bag,” he says with a laugh. “I realized you have to wear more than one layer. It wasn’t the prettiest journey, but I stuck with it and fell in love with it after that.”

Along the way, Christian earned many merit badges and achieved the rank of Eagle Scout. He is an assistant Scoutmaster with his troop and loves attending the younger members’ Eagle Scout ceremonies.


Christian carries the many lessons he learned as a Scout into his next stage of life – nursing school. “When you’re an Eagle Scout, you teach other people around you how to tie certain types of knots or how to prepare for a hike the proper way,” he says. “With nursing, you’re teaching not only the patient but their families how to take care of an ailment or about a surgery they might have.”

img_1229.jpgA recent encounter really brought this connection to life for him. “I had a patient in the hospital with a deep vein thrombosis – a blood clot in one of his lower legs,” he says. “One of the biggest risks is that it can dislodge and go to the person’s lungs, which could lead to a pulmonary embolism, preventing them from exchanging oxygen. At that point, it’s really hard to save the person.

“The discharge teaching is when you teach the person what to do when they leave the hospital,” he continues. “I realized that the person’s family wasn’t really taking it that seriously. If this patient’s family wasn’t supporting him, it was very likely he was going to be back in this hospital within 90 days. I decided to take a leadership position, like I had learned in Scouting, and step up for what’s right even when everyone in that room might not agree.”

Christian reflected on his experience earning his cooking merit badge. He had learned not only how to prepare food, but how to care for the body. “I connected that with nursing because we’re not simply learning ‘eat your fruits and vegetables and avoid fats and snacks,’ but really understanding how it affects the body, the physiology of it.”

IMG_2960_JPEGHe did the same for the patient and the family by explaining why certain foods would need to be avoided because of how they would affect the patient’s chances at recovery. “At that point they started taking it more seriously,” he says. “They started asking questions, like what they could eat as alternatives to fried foods. They took that information from me and, so far, I haven’t seen the patient come back in.”

Christian never could have imagined how his fascination with a cartoon could lead to opportunities, like this one, to help change a life. To start your Scouting adventure, visit the Old North State Council website at http://www.bsaonsc.org or call 336 378-9166.


Scouting makes confident kids—and adults!

Jon Sprague has lived a very interesting life.


After growing up in Minnesota, he moved to New York to attend acting school. He worked all kinds of jobs. He even developed a talent for drawing pictures of superheroes.

What sparked his confidence to pursue new interests and explore the possibilities of life?

“I’ve been in Scouting since youth,” Jon says. “It’s why I can do a lot of the things that I do today. Those skills that I learned as a Scout helped me in being a stranger in a strange land and becoming personable and kind with people.”

After meeting his wife and starting their family, life brought the Spragues to North Carolina. One of their sons was interested in Scouting because of a friend, and Jon’s wife found a local Cub Scout pack on beascout.org. They signed up their two oldest sons. (A third has since joined, and their youngest eagerly awaits his turn to be a Lion Cub this fall.)


“I was happy because these boys were now getting to learn better people skills, better organizational skills, and life lessons like how to be a good citizen,” Jon says.

Jon became involved as an adult volunteer and has taken on various roles. He applies his own special skill set, like his acting background and “ready-for-anything” personality. Even at times when his sons have taken a break, Jon remains.

sprague2.jpgHis reason is simple. “There’s a look that a kid gets in his eyes when he’s having a good time,” Jon says. “When a kid you know who’s been a part of the program you’re working with just ‘gets it,’ you know that that’s going to go someplace in a future.”

Jon recently saw that “look” turn into action. “A boy at our meeting wanted to get up in front of everybody and ask them to do something for his birthday,” he says. “He wanted everyone in the pack to bring canned food so that he could give it away. He’s learning what we want them to learn, and he has fun doing it.”

But there are other reasons, too. “It’s fun for me,” Jon says. “It’s fun to sing the songs and to meet new people. It’s a safe haven for people to learn to become themselves, and I want that for the kids.”

sprague.jpgJon also wants each youth to know what’s possible. “You are a boy who’s going to become a man, and you can do it through all of these activities, whatever ones you want to do. But you have to lead, as well, because that’s important.”

He knows it first-hand. “Right now I’m at a point in life where I’m doing well enough in my job that I don’t need to fret, and I’ve got enough little side projects going because I’ve got the free time to do it,” Jon says. “That’s because I got the chance to be me as a kid.”

Jon’s best Scouting memories of becoming who he is today revolve around summer camp in Minnesota. “It was so much fun, and there was so much to do,” he says. “It wasn’t just about earning merit badges or being at the boating lake for your schedule. It was about hanging out with your buddies, going fishing, hanging out on the raft, and watching the stars or the lightning hit the lake. The images of being on top of those climbing towers or sitting in a canoe or the first time I got to sail will always be there. And I will never forget.”

Being a Scout taught Jon to embrace who he is and pay it forward to others, and today he gets to help the next generation form their own life-long memories. If you would like to begin your Scouting journey visit the Old North State Council Website and click on “Join” or call 336 378-9166 for more information.

Scouting Develops Leadership in the Whole Family

About 10 years ago, Misty and Larry Boyd sat with their son David at church. It was Scout Sunday.

IMG_8178“I never knew about Boy Scouts,” Misty remembers. “I wasn’t a Girl Scout. My husband’s mom had him in sports from the time he could walk.”

David – who was just in kindergarten at the time – didn’t have an interest in playing sports, but Misty wanted to get him involved in something constructive and fun.

“I told David ‘It sounds like they do the things you like to do. You like to play outside,’” she says. “I asked, ‘Would you like to do that?’”

David answered in the typical 5-year-old way. “Uh huh.” Soon, he was old enough to start the Scouting program, so Misty contacted a local pack, and her family’s journey began.

Both Misty and Larry became volunteer leaders as David began Cub Scouts in elementary school. They learned the ropes as they went along. Each year brought new lessons and experiences. And as David advanced, so did they.

img_8164.jpgThey came alongside other new parents who were just getting started. “We helped them through their first year of Scouting requirements and got them acclimated,” Misty says. Then they became assistant Scoutmasters with their son’s troop.

David took on his own leadership roles, helping younger boys in the program. “For two years, when my son was in 4th and 5th grade, he mentored younger boys in Cub Scouts,” Misty says.
Misty and Larry also became counselors to Boy Scouts working on merit badges. To help meet the needs of troops in their area, they helped start a merit badge college.

Their initiative and commitment caused others to take notice. Misty was offered the opportunity to lead a monthly volunteer meeting (Roundtable) that provided training and shared best practices. “I didn’t know what Roundtable was,” she says. “But that pushed me more.” It’s been rewarding experience.

flag.jpgAs Misty’s service took her in various directions, she still found ways to share experiences with her son. “David comes with me to Roundtable,” she says. “He helps out. If I don’t have anyone, he always makes sure he gets the flag and we do our presentation of the colors.”

She also asks for his input. “I’ve said, ‘Hey, this is boy-led, so you’ve got to give me some ideas to do at Roundtable.’ And he’s actually had some awesome ideas that I’ve utilized.”

mom.jpgPerhaps their most special experiences have been while volunteering as campsite hosts for current Cub Scout mothers and sons at the annual “Mom & Me” weekend at Woodfield Scout Preservation in Asheboro.

“We’ve enjoy it because we participated at Mom and Me years ago,” Misty says. “My husband is always working that weekend, so now it’s our little tradition, just my son and me.”



David likes setting an example for the younger boys just starting out. At one event, he put his cooking merit badge skills on display, and the other moms were very impressed. It gave Misty the opportunity to tell them, “You’re going to be amazed at the skills and abilities your son will learn.”

As Larry approaches retirement, he’s found other ways to plug in, as well. “I told him, ‘You’re going to have do something,’” Misty jokes. “I got him involved in the shooting sports.”img_81661.jpg

This past year, David completed his Eagle project, but he’s not done participating. “There’s other leaders whose sons, once they reached Eagle, were done,” Misty says. “The leaders kept coming, but their boys didn’t. David’s still active in the troop.”

Misty credits David’s commitment as well as his exposure to the many facets of the Scouting program through his parents’ involvement for keeping him interested. Next up is a Venturing Crew that offers high-adventure or hobby-based programs for young men and women ages 14 to 21 years.

The Boyds have come a long way since that Scout Sunday so many years ago. They have flourished and watched one another grow. “We got our toe in and now we’re swimming,” Misty says. “It’s fun. I’ve enjoyed the growth and the opportunity to get involved in different things.”IMG_8171

If you would like to start your family’s Scouting adventure together, click here for more information…

Police department re-launches Law Enforcement Explorer Program


GREENSBORO, N.C. — Seventeen-year-old Sam Jackson is taking the first step towards fulfilling his lifelong dream.

“Since I was like five, I wanted to be a police officer or in the FBI,” Jackson said.

Some of his main interests are forensics and ballistics.

“Going to a crime scene, telling where a shooter was standing,” he said.

He’s one of more than 15 young people part of Greensboro Police Department’s Law Enforcement Explorer program.

It started in the 1950s and has gone on for decades.

“The program was designed in those days for recruiting young officers,” said Greensboro police Chief Wayne Scott. “The relaunch is a little different.”

After a 17-year break, Scott says they’re bringing it back, not only to help keep teens on the right path but to also break down walls between police and the community.

“We believe that that’s the age to get in and have positive interaction,” Scott said. “Particularly, the younger folks are seeing tidbits of what police do, they see a little bit on social media and YouTube, but we believe that the key there is to show them that we are human. We’re just like you.”

Scott hopes bridging that gap will lead to less crime.

“We begin to build relationships in communities that at least help us solve crimes faster,” he said.

The program is open to ages 14 to 21 and involves meeting once a month for lectures, community drives, and interning in different parts of the police department.

“Learning how to be a professional, how to handle yourself in this community, how to be a leader,” Scott said.

Explorer Dyllan Key says it’s good training for her career in service.

“I want to go into the air force,” said the 15-year-old. “This was a good way to get a head start.”

The explorer program is just one of the ways police are trying to engage youth.

Officers will start a program called Students Overcoming Situations working with first and fifth graders — along with therapy dogs.

Exploring is a young adult program of the Boy Scouts of America for men and women ages 14–20 (or have completed the 8th grade). The program is developed by local community organizations such as businesses, industries, professions, churches and civic groups to match the career interest of young adults. For more information about the Exploring Program, contact Jonathan Clapp at Jonathan.clapp@scouting.org

%d bloggers like this: