Local boys have an organization filled with opportunities to learn values, instill appreciation for the outdoors and develop new friendships.
The Boy Scouts of America, founded in 1910, cultivates ideas and values in boys from ages 11 to 18.
The Heart of America Council in Kansas City, Mo., is the headquarters for approximately 45,000 boys in the Kansas City area. These boys are spread over 19 counties and 10 districts in Kansas and Missouri. The Lawrence area is part of the Pelathe District, which includes all of Douglas County plus the town of Linwood in Leavenworth County.
Approximately 15,000 volunteers work with the 45,000 Scouts.
The Heart of America Council will receive $25,985 from the United Way of Douglas County this year. The council's budget is more than $90,000. The Friends of Scouting raise about $18,000. The remainder is raised by other districts.
THE SCOUTING system is built on volunteerism. It provides strong role models to help teach and lead the boys, said Eric Melton, Heart of America district executive.
The boys are involved in troops that vary in number, ranging from about 20 to 60, and occcasionally more. Troops are divided into patrols, with boys as leaders. The patrols provide opportunities to work together for common goals. ``When the group succeeds, the individual succeeds,'' Melton said.
John Saunders, co-scoutmaster of Troop 55, said Scouting provides an opportunity to ``let off steam'' in a safe environment. He said a boy does not have to have particular qualities to have fun or be successful as a Boy Scout. ``There is always a contribution he can make,'' he said.
As for the adult leaders, they are really just overseers, said Danny Keller, co-scoutmaster of Troop 55. ``The program is not for us, it's for the boys.''
AT A RECENT meeting, the Burgess Scout Cabin was alive with preparations for a camp-out. The senior Scouts, the oldest boys, were taking an inventory of the camping gear. Camping is one of the most popular activities in the Scouts.
Bill Van Reekum, 16, as senior patrol leader the highest ranking Scout, likes camping to get away from the city.
Brian Woydziak, 13, troop scribe, also enjoys camping. But he likes it for the road trips, particularly to Colorado. The Boy Scouts have a camp there known as Spanish Peaks.
Parents are an integral part of the Scouting program. Many serve as drivers to meetings and help on camping trips and other events. Some parents, such as Alan Johnson, are more active in the program.
Johnson is a registered leader with Troop 55. He has a son, Ezra, 11, in the troop. Johnson says it is fun to see the boys learn, and he says Scouting is a positive influence on the boys. As for his involvement, he believes that if he and his wife, Karen, are interested, Ezra will stay in Scouting longer.
SCOUTING is not just about camping and the outdoors. Other activities involve computers, first aid, the environment and energy conservation, aviation and electronics, among many other topics. The program is constantly shifting and adapting to keep abreast of the needs of today, Melton said.
Scouting is more than a momentary pastime; with desire and work, the Scouting experience will teach lessons that last a lifetime.