Some things aren’t made to last.
The Boys Scouts of America isn’t one of them.
The organization, known for training boys ages 11-17 to be skilled and helpful members of their community, celebrated 100 years in operation Feb. 8, and Stuttgart area Scouts took the opportunity to put on a Scout show for the community.
“Things haven’t changed, [including] the foundations of camping, hiking and cooking,” said Duke Whitten, Stuttgart round table commissioner for the Boy Scouts of America’s Transatlantic Council Rheingold District and scoutmaster for Stuttgart Troop 154. “Teaching boys by the patrol method to be leaders and to be affiliated with something good and wholesome has worked for 100 years.”
To prove his point, close to 150 district Boy Scouts demonstrated the skills they have mastered, including Dutch oven cooking, land navigation and pioneering, in tents pitched outside the Panzer Main Exchange on Panzer Kaserne Feb. 6. They also participated in “Scout Sunday” Feb. 7 by greeting community members in uniform at church services throughout the garrison.
During the Scouting demonstration, Scouts in Troop 324 built a rope ladder, while Troop 154 passed out sausage and biscuit sandwiches (cooked in a Dutch oven). Others shoveled snow from the walkway as a “thank-you” to Army and Air Force Exchange Services for letting them use the facility and gave hot chocolate to passers-by.
Ian Borchert, a 14-year-old Scout in Troop 44, believes the skills are especially useful to boys who, like him, are growing up in the military community. “Some of us will go into the armed forces,” he said, “and the skills we’ve learned will be useful in the future.”
Borchert wasn’t just talking about the physical parts of Scouting, either. “It’s not all about being kind,” he said. “It’s a lot deeper, [like] being aware of what’s going on, and how to respect other people’s beliefs.”
Inside the Panzer Main Exchange, Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts participated in the “Pinewood Derby,” a race designed for small wooden cars, each built and decorated by a Scout. Cars in the derby are released from the top of a slide-like track, and gravity causes them to pick up speed.
While building a car may seem like a simple mechanical skill, Scouts are actually gaining more than hand-eye coordination, Whitten said. “These skills allow them to grow and gain self-confidence. We emphasize teamwork and we emphasize leadership.”
This, in fact, is what the Boy Scouts of American is designed to do: create leaders in young people by teaching them to make good choices, according to the Boy Scout mission.
A century later, it’s still working.
“Duty, honor and country mean just as much today as they did 100 years ago,” Whitten said. “We’re building citizens of our country [and] citizens of the world.”
There are approximately 300 Boy Scouts in the U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart community, making it one of the largest scouting hubs in the local Rheingold District, part of the Transatlantic Council. Boy Scouts is for boys ages 11-17, or 10-year-old boys who have earned the Arrow of Light Award.
For more information on Scouting in Stuttgart, call Whitten at 0711-729-4593. For information on the BSA, visit www.scouting.org.