Jan Helge Bøhn joined Cub Scouting in the second grade, as did all but two of the other 13 boys in his grade-school class. Eight were still active when they graduated from high school.
That’s no surprise, considering how the Norwegian Scout program combined rugged outdoor adventure — think sleeping in snow caves — with real opportunities for leadership.
“It was old-fashioned Scouting,” Bøhn says. “That’s the way I would describe it.”
Bøhn’s Scout group included a Cub Scout pack (ages 8-10), a Scout troop (ages 10-16) and a Rover crew (ages 16-25). The groups were tightly integrated. For example, the Rovers helped lead the pack and troop, even planning the troop’s summer camps.
“When I was 16, I was the treasurer — without adult supervision — running the bookkeeping for a troop of 35-40 boys and the associated pack and Rovers,” he says.
Bøhn brought the Scout-group concept to Blacksburg, where Pack, Troop and Crew 158 work closely together. For example, the units meet at the same time, holding joint opening and closing ceremonies but doing their own activities in between.
And his college-aged female Venturers, who are expert-level users of social media, played a key role in helping the pack welcome girls last spring.
“They’re much more agile, much quicker to respond,” he says. “That experience really cemented my view that we want to have a tight integration among the three units so they’re helping each other.”