ScoutingNovember - December 2002

Doing the Lions' Share

By Robert W. Peterson

Local Lions Clubs have a long tradition of serving as chartered organizations for Scouting units.

TODAY'S POP QUIZ: Match the motto to the correct group:
l. "We serve"
2. "Be prepared"
3. "Do your best"
a. Boy Scouts
b. Cub Scouts
c. Lions Clubs

If you said l-c, 2-a, and 3-b, you would be right. But in a larger sense, all three mottoes fit all three groups.

Like Scouting units, Lions Clubs are noted for their community service. So it's not surprising that Lions Clubs support more Scouting units than any other civic or fraternal organization (see sidebar).

In the United States, Lions Clubs hold the charters to nearly 3,000 packs, troops, and Venturing crews, with 95,500 youth members.

The relationship between Lions and the Boy Scouts of America goes back more than 80 years, and for good reason, says J. Frank Moore III, immediate past president of Lions Clubs International and chairman of the Lions Clubs International Foundation. "The two organizations have similar goals—the promotion of international cooperation, community service, citizenship, and leadership," he points out.

"Aiding one organization is a complement to the other," Moore said.

Of Lions and Scouters

Because the goals are so similar, some adults who volunteer to be Scout leaders also find Lions Club membership appealing. In Lake Oswego, Ore., for example, two Scouters joined the Lake Grove Lions Club, their units' chartered organization, after they had become involved in Scouting.

One of the new Lions was Scoutmaster Bruce McDonald of Troop 146. He knew nothing about the Lions before becoming a Scout leader in 1998, but he "was really impressed with the way the Lions Club supported the troop."

The other Scouter who became a Lion in the Portland suburb is Donald H. Potter. He is an Eagle Scout and holder of the Silver Beaver Award (a local council's top recognition for service to youth).

Potter serves as the Lions Club's chartered organization representative for Bruce McDonald's Troop 146, as well as for Packs 146 and 129. However, he had been a Troop 146 leader for nine years when the Lake Grove Lions became the troop's chartered organization in 1979.

"They asked me if I'd like to join the Lions Club and be the go-between for the club and the troop," Potter said. "They caught me!"

Today Potter is the Lions Club president as well as its liaison with its Scouting units. He's also the Lions' state chairman for Lions-Quest, a drug prevention and character education program for school students.

A retired forester and landscape architect, Don Potter leads tree plant programs of the Oregon Lions and the BSA's Cascade Pacific Council, often assigning Scout units to help with planting.

Among his helpers are the Cub Scouts of Pack 146.

"We're among the first Don calls for tree planting," says pack committee chair Jennifer Nielsen. Neither she nor her husband, Cubmaster Tom Nielsen, is affiliated with the Lions Club, but they value its support.

"We invite them to our pack meetings and blue and gold banquet," she said, "and we have also helped the Lions with their guide-dog program and other projects."

Serving the community

Nearly a continent away, in the hills and valleys of south-central Pennsylvania, Lions Clubs also nurture Scouting. In the village of Williamsburg (pop. 1,400), the Lions Club holds the charter for Pack 353, of the Penn's Woods Council based in Johnstown, Pa.

Its 50 Cub Scouts usually have a special activity as well as a pack meeting each month, said Cubmaster Katrina Saylor. Last April, the Cub Scouts enjoyed a kite derby and completed a trash pickup project. "We try to do a lot for the community," Saylor said.

The pack was started in 1987 by a Williamsburg Lions Club past president, the Rev. Harry G. Stetser, who now serves as the chartered organization representative. Instead of participating in the Halloween eyeglass-collecting project (see sidebar), the pack collects eyeglasses all year long. "Our local barber is a Lion, and he accepts glasses there," he said.

The Cove Lions Club operates Pack 484 and Troop 484 that meet in Woodbury, Pa. The club keeps in close touch with its units. Gerald Beach, the chartered organization representative, said the Lions host a dinner for the units each year and offer use of the Lions Club building in Loysburg for big Scouting events.

Scout units chartered to Lions Clubs carry on a tradition of service that goes back more than 80 years.

The organization was founded in 1917 by Melvin Jones, a Chicago businessman, who said that he believed that a man could not be truly successful unless he used his talents to improve his community.

Scouting magazine contributing editor Robert W. Peterson lives in Ramsey, N.J.

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