Scouts Breakfast to Raise Funds for Camp Stambaugh

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Whispering Pines District Great Trail Council of the Boy Scouts of America is growing — and so is its impact in the community.

“I don’t think there’s a better program for young people today that provides comprehensive leadership and citizenship training, and everything you need to get that you’re not getting in the classroom,” said John Brkic, director of the Whispering Pines District of the Boy Scouts.

Brkic said although the Boy Scouts is synonymous with camping and the outdoors, the organization plays a vital role in preparing young people for adulthood.

“Camping is the tool to provide leadership training, citizenship training and used as the place to do all of the activities in scouts,” Brkic said. “What a lot of people forget is we do a lot of STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) training starting from kindergarten all the way through the program.”

To recognize these achievements and the program’s supporters, the district will host its 14th annual Celebration of Scouting breakfast April 30 at the Holiday Inn in Boardman. Doors will open at 7 a.m.

This year’s keynote speaker will be Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, who is an Eagle Scout, Brkic said.

The goal is to raise $55,000 from the breakfast and $83,000 overall, Brkic said. The money is used to make capital improvements to Camp Stambaugh, staff support and training for volunteers, and scholarships to young people who may not have the resources to pay for scouting programs.

Among the improvements to Camp Stambaugh over the last several years are new kitchen equipment and bathrooms for the dining hall, a new parking lot, and re-established lake. The camp has undergone about $500,000 worth of improvements over the last three years, Brkic said.

Much of the fundraising is directed to outreach programs to encourage interest among young people from the inner city schools.

“One of the biggest things that it funds is our ScoutReach program, which is our inner city Scouting program,” he said. ScoutReach introduces Scouting to students in the Youngstown, Warren and Akron public school districts through in-school or afterschool programs.

Over the past three years, the number of Scouts in the Youngstown area has steadily grown, Brkic said. In fiscal 2017, numbers were up 2% versus the previous year; in fiscal 2018, membership increased by 16%; and in fiscal 2019, the ranks grew by another 2%, he said.

Retention rates are also strong among local Scouts, Brkic said. “We have an 80% retention rate every year.”

Moreover, these Scouts engage in projects that benefit the community. For instance, Eagle Scouts recently built an outdoor classroom for Stadium Drive Elementary School in Boardman, he said.

“My boys were in Scouts very early on in their lives,” said Katie Burkey, breakfast committee member for the Friends of Scouting, the fundraising arm for the Whispering Pines District. “Both of them are now Eagle Scouts.”

To earn the Eagle Scout distinction, one must attain 22 merit badges, which include communication, family life, personal fitness and personal management, Burkey said.

“Each of those merit badges help to develop the character as well as develop the young man,” she noted, which involves honing life skills that will play an important role in their futures. “The biggest attribute about scouting is that it is constantly reiterating those life skills.”

Committee member Mark Luke said he grew up in scouting and became involved as an adult about 13 years ago. “I wanted to give back to scouting as much as I can because it’s meant so much to me in my life,” he said.

“Scouting matters,” Luke remarked. “And I think it’s needed now more than ever in our society.”

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.