Scouting program promotes values, fitness, citizenship
NEWMAN – An organization which celebrated its 102nd birthday Wednesday is continuing to build young men of character and fitness on the West Side and in communities across the nation.
This is National Boy Scout Week, and the local troops are testament to the enduring values and purpose of the program.
The program has served millions of youth nationwide through the original Boy Scouts which started 102 years ago. Cub Scouts were founded in 1930.
Local youth and adults have been active in scouting through the decades of BSA history, although there were occasional breaks in the local charters.
Currently, 28 boys are active in Newman Boy Scout and Cub Scout programs.
Cub Scout Pack 83, which was reactivated in December 1991 with Newman Rotary as its charter organization, has 21 members. Cub Scouts is open to boys in grades 1-5.
Boy Scout Troop 83, which was reactivated in June 2003 with Orestimba Presbyterian Church as its charter organization, currently includes seven members. Boy Scouts is open to those from sixth-grade through age 18.
The troops include Scouts from Newman and Gustine.
Scouting instills a number of positive traits through its vast array of activities, promoting character as well as fitness, leaders say.
“Keeping a healthy body, strong mind and active citizenship are key components built in to the scouting program,” Troop 83 Committee Chair Leigh Ann Romero explained. The Scouts learn how to be proactive citizens and to care for the needs of others through a variety of service-oriented projects.
They also learn affirmative values such as fairness, courage, honor and respect for others.
In addition to working on their individual, den, troop and pack achievements, the Newman scouts are involved in many community activities. They can be seen carrying the banner and sponsor signs for the Newman Fall Festival parade, and in their fund-raising booth in the park that weekend. Scouts work alongside the local veterans group placing flags and crosses at Hills Ferry Cemetery each Memorial Day.
They joined in the community effort to clean up the planters downtown and helped in the gift wrapping process for Toys for Tots. The Newman Scouts sponsored a family in need during the holidays collecting and delivering food through the Newman Women’s League Thanksgiving basket program, and they took turns ringing the bell for the Salvation Army Kettle Campaign.
Cub Scouts is geared at a lower age level to promote the same character traits as the Boy Scouts, Romero noted. The continuum of the program is community service and citizenship, while developing lifelong learning skills through a variety of achievement opportunities. From its inception, Scouting has offered a solid program of discovering, sharing and applying knowledge and skills.
Scouts at every level are given opportunities to try new experiences, discover new interests, and develop new skills. “There are over 100 merit badges a Boy Scout can choose from,” Romero pointed out. Diverse subject areas range from automotive repair to cycling to emergency service to citizenship, among countless others. Each requires an in depth study and participation from the scout.
Cub Scouts earn achievements as a den at their appropriate level as well as individuals in a variety of areas such as outdoorsman, sports, and hobbies.
Outdoor activities are popular with Scouts of all ages. The pack organizes family camping outings and barbecues a few times through the year which gives the younger scouts a taste of what they can experience as they move up to Boy Scouts. “The older boys really enjoy snow camp,” Romero said, as well as hiking, cooking outdoors and any other outdoor adventures they try.
Scouting is a family-oriented program encouraging parents and siblings to be involved in every aspect, especially in the Cub Scout activities. “For our family, it has been a building experience,” Romero expressed. The Romero family has been involved since their oldest son Armando Jr. joined as a Webelos Scout about 10 years ago. He is now an assistant Scoutmaster for Troop 83; his brother Anthony, who started as a Tiger Scout, is currently senior patrol leader, and their brother Adam will be joining at the end of this month. Their father Armando Sr. is also an assistant Scoutmaster for the troop. “Boy Scouts has fit our family well. We enjoy all of the outdoor activities and we get to do them together. The troop often joins the Cub Scout pack in family camping trips,” Leigh Ann Romero said.
Dena Travao is finding the benefits of scouting to suit her family as well. They are just beginning their journey into Scouts. Her son Mathew Travao couldn’t wait to join the Scouts as soon as he finished kindergarten last year. He knew he had to be in first grade to start with the Tiger Cubs. His mom jumped right in along with him and took on the role of committee chair for Pack 83. So far, they are enjoying their scout experience and her younger son is already looking forward to joining. “I think we are in for a long time,” Travao happily reported.
Both the Boy Scouts and the Cub Scouts have a lot to celebrate this year.
Troop 83 is proud to have their first Boy Scout in many years achieve the highest Scouting rank. Austin Mendonca, who started as a Tiger Cub in first grade, has completed the requirements and passed his review to earn the rank of Eagle Scout. According to the BSA website, the Eagle Scout rank is earned by only 5 percent of Boy Scouts each year. A court of honor will be held at the West Side Theatre on March 7 to formally present Mendonca the prestigious award.
Pack 83 is also beaming with pride this year. Four second-year Webelos Scouts will receive their Arrow of Light distinctions and cross the ceremonial bridge to Boy Scouts during the traditional Blue and Gold Dinner held on Feb. 25. The Arrow of Light is the highest honor a Cub Scout can receive before transitioning into Boy Scouts.
“We are very appreciative for the continued support of our charter organizations, the Newman Rotary and the Orestimba Presbyterian Church. We wouldn’t have these programs that benefit our local youth without their generous support,” Romero and Travao acknowledged.
Community members seeking additional information about the local Scouting programs may call 752-9625.