Saturday, October 19, 2002
Steamboat Springs It's easy to list reasons why the Boy Scouts of America is good for boys. It teaches them to become proper young men, provides an opportunity for responsibility, drills in basic survival techniques in the woods and provides a constructive after-school alternative.
But if you ask the scouts why they think it's good, they pretty much say one thing.
"We go camping, a lot. I really like to camp," scout Paul Brassell said.
It could be one of the most tempting elements of the scouts in Steamboat Springs they usually go about once a month but it definitely isn't the only thing the scouts do.
"We think the scouts deserve a lot of recognition because of what they do," Scout Leader Francis Abate said.
In fact, the 50 members of Boy Scout Troop 194 completed more than 300 hours of community-service projects in the past year. The work is part of the scouts' objective to earn merit badges, as well as rankings within the troop. The merit badges encourage scouts to pursue more than 100 fields of skill and knowledge. Along with other requirements, the badges move the scouts up in a ranking system in the troop the highest rank being the venerable Eagle Scout.
According to the Boy Scouts of America, only about 4 percent of scouts in the United States become Eagle Scouts. Steamboat's John Brassell, 18, will be one of them soon.
"It's going to be one of the more important things in my life. It will be something I will remember," Brassell said.
Eagle Scout is the sixth rank in the troop, each rank requiring extra work. Eagle Scouts must earn a total of 21 merit badges, including first aid, citizenship in the community, citizenship in the nation, citizenship in the world, communications, personal fitness, emergency preparedness or lifesaving, environmental science, personal management, camping, hiking or cycling or swimming and family life.
Brassell built benches at the amphitheater at Steamboat Springs High School as part of his Eagle Scout program. It resulted in 169 group hours of work to complete the project.
He stuck with the program through the years because he likes to camp and hike. Brassell enjoys an annual ski trip to a backcountry hut, as well as the outdoor skills he utilizes in the field.
"It's good. I've worked real hard and kept on going towards it, and it's finally paying off," he said.
The merit badges and ranks put scouts all over the community, Abate said. Recently, the troop has rebuilt benches at Seed House Campgrounds, helped LIFT-UP of Routt County collect food at grocery stores, volunteered to help the Kiwanis Club and participated in a clean-up day around town, just to name a few of the activities.
Lewis Cutter Sr. has two sons in scouts, Lewis Jr. and John. On top of good values, being involved with the scouts gives the family an opportunity to go camping together.
Lewis Jr., 13, is the senior patrol leader, meaning he has the responsibility to oversee the entire troop.
"It gets difficult at times," he said. "If a scout gets down, or is in trouble, I'm the one who has to stop it."
The young scout said the experience is helping him grow, but it's mostly just fun.
His father praised the Boy Scouts.
"I think the values that scouting teaches the boys are really good."