Friends of Scouting Reinforce Values of Founder

BOARDMAN, Ohio – Standing outside the western entrance to the Holiday Inn Tuesday morning and wearing his Boy Scout uniform, Sir Robert Baden-Powell greeted supporters of the Great Trail Council to its fundraising breakfast.

Baden-Powell is a familiar figure in the scouting movement – tan shirt and neckerchief, olive Bermuda shorts, knee-high dark green socks and his British-tan hat — and has been some 20 years in the Valley.

In his clipped British accent, the founder of scouting welcomed Scouts, their parents and friends of the movement. Only the faux mustache – you have to look closely — gives Bill Moss away.

That and the fact that Baden-Powell died in 1941 at age 83 in Kenya.

Inside the Holiday Inn, the Great Trail Council was holding its 12th annual Whispering Pines District Celebration of Scouting Breakfast that raised $34,322 in pledges for the upcoming year. The 11 previous breakfasts raised a combined $224,000.

The speakers — senior scout executives, two Boy Scouts, the principal of Martin Luther King Elementary School in Youngstown (Art Scissum) and keynote speaker Greg Smith of Greg Smith Leadership — focused on how the movement develops character and leadership.

They also reflected on the growth of scouting in the Mahoning Valley – 2.5% increase year-over-year in membership among the Boy Scouts and 9% among the Cub Scouts – and how the financial support of the several sponsors is essential to the $150 spent per year in support of each scout.

The Great Trail Council will spend $150,000 this year to upgrade the water system at Camp Stambaugh in Canfield, senior district executive John Brkic reported.

He noted that 7,500 scouts advanced in rank and that 29 earned the rank of Eagle Scout, or 8% of those eligible, “double the national average.”

Scissum, whose school has benefited from Scouting focus on inner city schools, praised the Boy Scouts for their support of Scout Law values “we try to instill in our schools,” to wit, trustworthiness, loyalty, being helpful, courtesy, kindness, obedience, cheerfulness, thrift, bravery and reverence.

“Treating everyone with respect, taking responsibility for our actions, how we deal with challenges,” Scissum said, are values the Boy Scouts instill and reinforce.

Victor DiTommasso, a senior at Poland High School and in scouting since first grade, and Ben Burkey, a junior at Boardman High School and member of Troop 60, related how being a scout has strengthened their character and given them the confidence to become leaders.

DiTommasso, a member of Troop 2, allowed, “My dad kind of chose it [joining scouts] for me” but is ever so glad that his father, a lifelong scout, pushed him into Cub Scouts.

Being a scout “takes boys out of their comfort zones,” he said, and teaches them to work with boys they don’t know from other backgrounds. It encouraged his interest in drama and to not be afraid to stand before audiences and perform. It also gave him the courage to take up skydiving.

“Scouting is my life,” Burkey said. He won’t change the world, he said, but scouting has made him appreciate that he can improve the lives of others “who don’t have the same opportunities I do.”

Making a difference in the life of some one else might seem negligible in trying to make the world a better place, he said, but it makes all the difference in the life of that person. And the world is a better place.

Pictured: Sir Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.