A CENTURY OF “BEING PREPARED" IN MONMOUTH
By Derek Keist
MONMOUTH - The year was 1909. Chicago publisher William D. Boyce was lost in the London fog. Boyce asked a boy for his help. The boy, after guiding him through the fog, turned down a tip. When Boyce asked why, the boy explained that he was a Scout and would never accept money for doing a Good Turn.
Boyce was so inspired by the boy's kindness that he researched the Scouts, which had been established in Britain in 1907, and brought the concept to the United States. As a result, the Boy Scouts of America was founded on Feb. 8, 1910.
Now 100 years later, the Boy Scouts can be seen all across the country teaching young men skills and values that carry on to shape their lives.
Daniel Reck, director of the leadership and involvement program of Monmouth College, said those in the lower ranks of Boy Scouts learn important skills needed to be a good scout, along with a good person — including creating and following a budget for 90 days.
"They go over everything from basic first-aid, how to cook, over a campfire or in your house, how to plan a menu," Reck said. "There is a lot of different personal development going on in Boy Scouts."
Gary Distin, a long-time Monmouth optometrist, first joined cub scouts when he was in third grade. He said Boy Scouts is an important program that teaches people important survival skills, such as life saving, swimming and first aid.
"There's a lot of those activities, and if you're going to be a leader, you have got to know them all," Distin said. "In the instance of a snow storm, (the scouts) teach you how to build shelters and you learn how to build different kinds of fires."
The Boy Scouts are designed to give young men a "well-rounded experience," Reck said.
"It's very intentional that you receive opportunities to learn and grow in lots of different parts of your life. It comes together to help you learn what you need to learn to be successful," he said.
Jon Sims, pastor of the First United Methodist Church, said those skills will most likely stick with them their entire lives.
"Be prepared. I think of that all the time," Sims said. "Whether it be getting in the car and driving in bad weather and thinking about 'OK, if I break down, what will I need.' Even when I go canoeing, I still use the same strokes that I learned in Boy Scouts."
In addition to vital survival skills, the scouts also teaches children the importance of staying active in the community as they grow older.
"One of the things that scouting does is it also teaches you to want to do community things, to do civic things. Even just be generous when you're donating to United Way and things like that," Distin said. "It teaches you how to be part of the community."
Scouts also teaches people how to work for the greater good.
"Learning to work with others is an important aspect of the scouts," Sims said. "You figure out very quickly that if you work together things go a whole lot better than if you're just trying to do it all on your own."
But the Scouts provide more than just merit badges — they provide memories.
"We climbed a mountain called Mt. Phillips and camped on top of that thing and had a snowball fight in July," Sims said.
Distin recalled a canoeing trip in Canada.
"We woke up one morning and there was a huge moose right in the middle of our camp," Distin said. "They're huge. I couldn't believe how tall that thing was."
Boy Scouts also can shape the future of people's lives. Upon earning the rank of an Eagle Scout, Sims was given the opportunity to shadow a professional for a day, and he chose his pastor.
"There were four fellows who got eagle the same time I did," Sims said. "One went and worked for a dentist, and he is now a dentist. One worked for an engineer and he is now an engineer. One worked for a professor in history, and he's a historian. And then myself picking my pastor, and now I'm a pastor."
As he reflected on the Boy Scouts legacy, Reck was also high on the organization's future.
"This is a great opportunity for young men to learn to be great men," Reck said. "And (Boyce) brought that concept back to the United States after that fateful encounter in the London fog. Now 100 years later, it's still going strong. That says something about the institution."