FAMILY AND TRADITION are important in Scouting and in the life of Andi Vigue. Five years ago, Vigue succeeded his father, Pete, as president of Cianbro, one of the largest employers in his hometown of Pittsfield, Maine. He’d been preparing for the job since he was 7 years old and helped out on his father’s job sites.
About the same time, he also took over as Scoutmaster of Troop 428, chartered to Cianbro. It’s where Vigue became an Eagle Scout at age 15. Now, Vigue’s son Greg is close to achieving Scouting’s highest rank.
Vigue returned to Scouting when Greg was old enough to become a Tiger Cub. He and his wife, Emily, both served as Cub Scout leaders. She now works with their daughter, Caroline, in Girl Scouting, while the men in the family spend their time in Boy Scouting.
You say you have high standards for your Scouts. Why is that? Sometimes I think kids get pampered too much, and they rely on others to do things for them. Scouting is about allowing the boys to lead and to figure things out and succeed on their own. These kids are a lot more resilient than their parents give them credit for. My job is just to make sure they don’t get in over their heads.
How do you keep them from getting in over their heads? I ask a lot of questions to encourage them to think. The older boys know me well enough now to say, “We’ve got to figure this out. He’s telling us something without telling us.” They usually can get there.
So you’re not one to prevent minor mistakes? No. I think it’s more important that you see how a boy deals with a mistake after he makes it rather than showing him how not to make it. Everybody’s human, and we all make mistakes. It’s when you recognize that you’ve done something wrong that you can make an improvement and rebound from it.
How do you get kids to tap into their own resiliency? I’ll give you an example. Once we were canoeing a river with a destination in mind for that night. There was this one canoe with two boys in it that started to fall behind. I just kept drifting behind them, keeping them in front of me. We got to a point where both of the boys were ready to quit. I said, “Are you dying? Are you hurt? No? Then we’ll just sleep in the canoes, and when you’re ready to start paddling, we’ll start paddling.” I said, “I’m not going to let you guys give up. You’re going to have to figure this out.” It took 35 or 40 minutes, but finally one of them said, “We might as well just paddle.” And they paddled the whole way.
How much farther did they have to go? About a mile and a half. They’re both still in the troop and much better for it.
Kids today are involved in so many more activities than when you were a Scout. How do you compete? We tend to have our troop meetings on Sunday afternoons because that seems to be the one time when there is very little other activity. We try to plan in advance as far as we can. We try to be consistent on the week we go to summer camp. I also ask myself, “How do I present opportunities to them that are going to intrigue them enough so they’ll want to come back?”
Tell me about an intriguing outing you’ve done. Western Maine has a military survival school where they take Air Force pilots and other military people to train them in winter survival. They are also very supportive of the Boy Scouts. We went there in the winter, and they taught the boys how to build shelters and use snowshoes. The temperatures never got above freezing, and it snowed while we were there. But for boys, there isn’t anything more enjoyable. They had a blast.
You took your first high-adventure trip, a weeklong canoe trip, this summer. How did you manage both that and summer camp? We teamed up with another troop to divide and conquer. We said, “Let’s take your young boys and our young boys and send them to summer camp together and take your older boys and our older boys and go do high adventure.”
What’s it been like being your son’s Scoutmaster? It’s an honor, for sure. There’s so much history there, and there’s an implied expectation. The biggest challenge for me was making sure I understood the expectations from the BSA and then trying to make Scouting what I remembered it being. It gave me a whole new appreciation for what any volunteer does.
How do you balance running a company and running a Scout troop? I spend a lot of time working, and I spend a lot of time with my family. And that’s really it. At times it can be very tough. Doing the meetings on the weekend helps. Not only is it a time when the boys can be there, but it’s a time when I can be there.
What lessons have you brought from the work world to the troop? Some of my leadership experiences apply to life: how to conduct yourself, how to approach somebody, how to deal with conflict or stress, how to manage and plan. All of those things I can teach through Scouting and by sharing my real-life experiences.
And what lessons have you taken from Scouting to the office? When you have people who work for you and you pay them, they’re more inclined to do what you say. In volunteer groups, you develop a whole new level of leadership. You’ve got to motivate people, you’ve got to inspire them, you’ve got to convince them. That’s helped me as a person. It helps me at work to not just say, “I’m the boss; you’ve got to do it my way.”
Years as a Scout Leader: 10
Current City: Pittsfield, Maine
Current Positions: Scoutmaster, Troop 428
Day Job: President of Cianbro, a construction company with operations across the U.S.
Favorite Camps: Camp Hinds and Camp Roosevelt are among his favorites. “I can’t really say one is better than the other. Each camp has a very special place in my memory.”
Proudest Moment in Scouting: “When I can see a boy achieve something that he otherwise wouldn’t have done if it hadn’t been for Scouting—when a kid who couldn’t swim passes his swim test or a boy who’s never shot a bow and arrow is able to hit a bull’s-eye.”
As the Kennebec Valley District Commissioner and Andie being one of the Troop Leaders in my district, I find it very encouraging and inspiring for other units to see and read about another units’ experiences. They then can see that other units experience similar issues with their youth and that there are different perspectives and solutions to problems when folks take the time to look at them from the variety of directions available and know that there are no “Pat Answers.” Each experience and opportunity is unique and there are many ways for youth to mature and learn valuable life skills through Boy Scouting. Andie “Nailed It” when he stated that he wanted the youth to work out solutions for themselves since they are the ones who will have to live with their decisions, both good and poor. Great unit profile!
Would love to know more about the Western Maine military survival school. I am an Assistant Scout Master for Troop 74 in Chelmsford, MA and would love to present this to our Scouts for consideration.