Scouting event attracts Boy Scouts from across the country

Jacob Hammon, left, and Hayden Gantt, salute the American Flag as it is raised up the flag pole in Veterans Park in Buffalo Grove Illinois, June 14, 2016. Both scouts are members of Troop 79, Boy Scouts of America. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Aaron Berogan/Released).

The Boy Scouts of America’s Greater St. Louis Area Council hosted their annual University of Scouting event on campus this Saturday, Jan. 18th in the Morris University Center, with classes spread throughout Science East and Peck Hall.

This was the second year the Boy Scouts of America from the Greater St. Louis Area Council were able to host it at SIUE. 

Their section of the boy scouts has approximately 66,000 members and almost 15,000 adult volunteers. Cory Reeves, event chancellor, said that more than 1,000 people came through to register for the event, with all of the scouts spread throughout classrooms in the three buildings with a range of activities. 

The activities are all focused around letting the young scouts get skills and knowledge aimed towards earning their merit badges.

“We’ve got about 200 classes going on throughout the buildings, with a wide range of lessons for the scouts,” Reeves said. “All of them are geared towards teaching them lessons and skills so they can go on and earn their merit badges.”

Reeves said he has been with the scouts for approximately 40 years, having joined when he was a youth in the scouts and going on to forge his decision to join the fire department through the scouts. 

Reeves sees the event as a great opportunity for young adults from all over to learn about the boy scouts, what they do, and how they can take that information back home with them.

The event held over 200 different classes for the scouts and their troops to involve themselves in, ranging from fire starting to woodcarving and camping skills. 

Reeves said the way the troops are run is based around putting the scouts in leadership positions from a young age and letting them run their own groups, with adults as moderators. 

This, Reeves said, creates a strong bond through the scouts and empowers the youths to develop important skills.

KJ Botterbush, 17, of Godfrey, Illinois, runs a branch of the Greater St. Louis Area Boy Scouts, having been with the Scouts for 6 years. Botterbush said the main focus of all the different branches is leadership, where everyone is elected by their fellow scouts, creating a system where everyone gets input in the collaborative effort.

“The way these different lodges are all run, the youths are doing day-to-day operations all by themselves,” Botterbush said. “We see these youths working together in high leadership positions, running the entire lodge basically and making sure everything runs smoothly, and it’s all to teach them leadership and put them in the best position we can.”

Along with the classes for all the youth scouts, they also had a range of classes focused on the adults leading their unit, giving them useful skills and certification for things like first aid training and hazardous weather training. 

This focus is to not only improve the participants’ knowledge, but also the adults in charge to make sure they’re properly equipped to deal with all situations surrounding their troop.While the main classes were focused around learning new skills, they also had an opportunity for scouts to look into continuing a career option through the Explore program. 

Chad Deschane, the marketing director, said that there are a few options for them to pursue.

“You’ve got the Explore program on one side that’s the more traditional roles like cops and firefighters,” Deschane said. “And on the other side you have the STEM that brings in that engineering and science for them to continue into something a bit more advanced.”

What stood out among the entire University of Scouting event was their commitment to being available and open to work with Boy Scouts who have special needs. 

According to their website, every unit has at least one scout with special needs. They have resources available and actively work with their scouts to make sure that everyone is afforded the same opportunities and values instilled in them, which their website lists as “preparing young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath.”

For more information about the scouts or any upcoming events they have, go online at stlbsa.org or find the University of Scouting Greater St. Louis Area Council on Facebook.

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