“We strive to run a Christ-centered program and we use Scouting to help the Scouts focus on our Savior and our Heavenly Father. I feel that the BSA program, with its focus on Duty to God is still a perfect match with how the Church would like us to teach and train our young men – and a perfect vehicle to help them gain a testimony,”—Scoutmaster Troop 605
Troop 605 of Richfield, Utah came to our Thunder Ridge Scout Camp with the attitude of “going forward and full steam ahead.” I knew that they were going to be impressive as they first arrived at the troop check-in canopy. All fourteen boys came dressed alike in their “Class B” uniforms – with their tan shirts and their green hats (with their troop number on each). I said to them: “Do you also have full “Class A” uniforms?” They assured me that they did. I told them: “You guys are really spectacular … I write blogs about Scouts like you guys.” They beamed with pride.
Later that night, they came singing down the trail and through the trees in step with each other. Their long line of Scouts – all in perfect Class A uniforms was like something out of the “Follow Me Boys” (Disney) movie. Talk about classy! Wow!
Every boy was decked out meticulously and perfectly in the Scout shirt, BSA pants, insignia, green hats and even bright red neckerchiefs (like the old days of Scouting). And troop leaders said they could even pass a “sock check”. (They also reminded me of their Scouting brothers in Troop 26 of Logandale, Nevada – of which I wrote in an earlier blog: “Look Out Camp Thunder Ridge, Here Come the Warriors.”
Both troops seemed to have the same philosophy relative to Scout uniforms, troop identity and unity. And incidentally, these two troops were the only two troops (of all the troops) this summer at our Thunder Ridge Scout Camp – to present themselves in full Class A uniforms.)
Troops like Troop 605 naturally attract the gaze of all other troops, Scouts and staff. And well they should. Their uniforms were an outward sign of their commitment for and love of the Scouting program.
“Going Forward with Full Steam” is how Scoutmaster, Rick Kunzler, describes his troop. I interviewed Rick about his troop to see why and what made them so great. He said that his troop is totally committed to Scouting – and especially its century-long partnership with the LDS Church. He said that even in light of recent LDS changes, that “we love Scouting and are ‘Going forward with full steam’.” And that really described these guys as I watched them with awe as the week progressed. They obviously have taken hold of Scouting and are working hard to make everything “work as it should” (per Scoutmaster Kunzler).
This magnificent Troop 605 was most impressive as it came their turn to take down the flags at the evening ceremony. All fourteen Scouts of the troop were a part of the honor guard. And again, to see them in full uniform … they “caused my heart to sing”. (Quoting a phrase from the “COR” (Chartered Organization Representative), Adam Perschon. Wow! Such a grand sight!
Later I had opportunity to talk with this Adam, 2nd Counselor in the Richfield 5th ward Bishopric. Adam had high praise for Scoutmaster Kunzler and committee chair and camp chef, Rod Hurd. “Both have decades of Scouting experience”, he said. And Assistant Scoutmaster Rhett Peterson (himself a graduate of Troop 605) is a great asset. Rod, also a long-time staff member for the council’s Timberline NYLT course, “has a history of Scouting in his mind and he dedicates his all to raising boys with Scout principles”, said Adam.
Adam also said: “Troop 605 has a strong Scouting history … a series of dedicated SM’s one after the other. I would say that the majority get their Eagle Scouts. I would say, too, that there is a direct correlation of Eagles to missionary service.” And, he added … “I think the biggest thing for me – and I have been in this role for two years now … we have had a more recent emphasis in running the Scouting program exactly as it should be run. I get a sense that the world – and even from within the church – folks believe that Scouting has become outdated or ineffective based upon kids today and their demands with sports and other activities. Scouting is far from being outdated and is still appealing to today’s youth.” In his COR role, Adam and all of the Troop 605 team have “over the last six months – with a new SM, placed a big emphasis on running the program as it should be run – getting the boys outfitted in full uniforms and constantly encouraging the boys in their Scout efforts. We have seen a dramatic increase in activity level and excitement for Scouting.”
Scoutmaster Kunzler said, “We strive to run a Christ-centered program and we use Scouting to help the Scouts focus on our Savior and our Heavenly Father.” And “I feel that the BSA program, with its focus on Duty to God is still a perfect match with how the church would like us to teach and train our young men – and a perfect vehicle to help them gain a testimony,” added Adam.
Adam and Scoutmaster Kunzler both said that they felt a great need to get all of their Scouts into full uniform. “We scoured every DI (Deseret Industries) from St. George to Provo – trying to get uniforms for all of the Scouts as they headed to Thunder Ridge. They also advertised the uniform need in their ward newsletter. Then came the day before they were to head to camp (literally), they were still without pants for one Scout. And they felt bad that he might be singled out – and that the troop would not be in complete uniform. Rick’s wife made one last effort and advertised the need on the ward website. And then came the miracle … a lady came with two pairs of pants – one being the exact size needed by the remaining Scout. Says Adam: “I thought there would be some resistance [to the uniform] but the boys now seem to have some form of identity as a group and they have never given us a bit of push-back or complaining or moaning. They jump onto it and come out looking sharp. This has really given them a sense of a group and brotherhood – like brotherhood in the quorum.”
Senior Patrol Leader Nathan had high praise for the new uniform emphasis: “We got a new Scoutmaster about a month ago and he came in excited and wanted us to grow … and so he ordered us our T-shirts, hats and neckerchiefs so that we would have a way to bond together. It went over great. We were all super excited to get our T-shirts … and yea …”
Each of the troop leaders keep inviting all of the boys to come along. Scoutmaster Kunzler is persistent … He keeps saying, “Come along with us. We are going to have a great time.” He communicates a lot with the parents. Troop leaders said, “We had a parent meeting. We said, ‘This is where we are at and we need your commitment.’ We mentioned uniforms and said, ‘This is how we are going to run it and we need your support.’ And then the parents got behind us and supported our own commitments.”
All of the leaders saw the Thunder Ridge experience as one that all of the Scouts needed to be a part of. All were pleased that they were able to bring fourteen Scouts with them to camp. And their group includes every boy but one in their quorum and troop and both active and less-active members of their Deacon’s quorum.
“One of the best things is that each night we are at camp, we read our scriptures together. Then we get to hear testimony from one of our leaders. a Scout in Troop 605”
I asked the troop leaders about the forthcoming church changes relative to Scouting and keeping the older boys involved. Again came the words of Scoutmaster Kunzler. “We believe strongly in the program. We believe that Scouting and the Priesthood go together. As we’ve run the program we have only seen an increase in its effectiveness and the Scout’s interest in it.”
Brother Perschon agrees: “Our goal will be to emphasize the 11 year old program to ensure that the boys are getting the skills early on that they need. And then when they are older, they can build upon what they have already learned as Scouts. The principles are the same as ever … We want to help the boys lead, connect them to heaven, build their testimonies and we just enjoy being with them. That will not change. These are true principles.”
Troop 605 leaders are committed to continued troop involvement for their older boys. A number of their boys who have moved on from the Troop to Varsity and Venturing are still working toward Eagle. Most are Life and just need a little encouragement to carry on. Committee Chair, Rod says, “We have called an advancement chair to be a special Life to Eagle coach and he has begun to meet with the older boys not yet eagles to help them make a plan and goals to accomplish the rank of Eagle.”
Yes, all of the leaders of Troops 605 are united – going forward full steam ahead together. And the boys too, are “all in”. They seem to be having a grand time together. And they are so impressive in their togetherness.
I enjoyed visiting with some of the troop members. Each one had great pride in being a part of their Troop 605. In watching the guys, I loved watching Senior Patrol Leader, Nathan – complete with his prosthetic leg and ankle (that didn’t slow him down in the least.) He too, ran with full speed – expertly leading his troop with skills he had learned as a participant and staff member of the Timberline NYLT course.
Speaking of the Timberline course, Nathan said, “Timberline was a great experience because it had a feeling of brotherly love that our troop didn’t have. I have now tried to help my Scouts learn what was taught.” This super Scout is everything that a great youth leader should be for his quorum and troop. Here is a powerhouse in action!
Nathan, who said that his Eagle Scout board of review is to be Sunday (August 6th – the day after arriving home from Thunder Ridge), said: “So, our troop just barely started to get along and everything … Like, we all have different personalities … but when it comes to Scouting, we all trust each other and believe in each other and find the brotherly love that Scouting is about. We tie what we do in Scouting very strongly with what we do at church. We try to get what we learn at church to apply to what we do in our daily lives. We talk about what we are going to do in Scouting all of the time at church.”
Scout Aidan, who participated in the Scouting Basics program track – taught by Lou and me – seems to have been touched greatly by the troop program. He said, “Of course I LOVE Scouting. It gets me outdoors.” Of the uniform, Aidan said, “I feel like I am in the Army but I like it a lot. I am proud to wear it … it is a symbol of our troop pride and unity.” And I loved his next comment: “One of the best things is that each night we are at camp, we read our scriptures together. Then we get to hear testimony from one of our leaders.”
Lou and I made funnel cake for the camp staff and decided to take a pan of it (at 10:10 PM) to Troop 605 in their campsite. They were very pleased. I told them, “I guess you guys know you are my favorite troop” and then added, “And that is just because you are so good looking.” They all smiled and laughed. I thought, “What’s not to like about such a great troop! What a great group of guys!” They know Scouting and the Priesthood and they know how to do it right – with full steam. And again, “This makes my heart sing.”
In summary of the Troop 605 experience, Adam said, “I would simply say that the boys are responding very positively to our renewed emphasis on the Scouting program and that I can already see tremendous growth in each boy and can envision each of those moving through the priesthood and serving missions based on the foundation they are receiving in the troop.”
Best wishes along your Scouting Trails … Kevinthescoutblogger
See this link for an introduction to Kevin the Scouting Trails Blogger. Blogging articles have excerpts taken from Kevin’s many personal journals and Scouting Trails books including “MR. Scoutmaster!”, “Keys to Scouting Leadership,” “Gnubie to Eagle Scout”, and others at his Scoutingtrails website. Connect with Kevin and read his articles on Scouting blogsites such as The Boy Scout, The Scouting Trail and the Voice of Scouting. Feel free to comment on anything you read! Find Kevin on Facebook at: Scouting Trails Books and Blogs.
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