Airport visits are rewarding

I enjoyed the article in the October issue about the Blackhawk Area Council's AirCamp 2005 camporee. At about the same time last fall, 18 Scouts in our troop were able to participate in a similar Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Young Eagles flying experience at the Dubuque Regional Airport while earning the Aviation merit badge.

The visit completed a combined service project and merit badge effort, as three weeks earlier the Scouts had provided serving and cleanup help for the local EAA chapter's annual fund-raising Fly-In Breakfast.

During our airport visit, the cooperation and enthusiasm of the EAA members and airport staff were outstanding. In addition to providing 20-minute flights over Dubuque, EAA members arranged for five activity stations, where the Scouts could pass merit badge requirements.

After completing the on-site activities, the Scouts returned to our nearby campsite, where they finished the required written reports.

That evening the troop hosted our annual family picnic, rounding out a wonderful and wonder-filled weekend.

Rick Merfeld
Scoutmaster, Troop 19
St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church
Dubuque, Iowa

... In November 2005, nearly 50 Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts took to the skies as part of the fourth annual Scout Aviation Day at the Moore County Airport in Southern Pines, N.C.

The day began with "ground school"—pilot Colin Webster giving the visitors an overview of the history, mysteries, and mechanics of flight.

Scouts were then able to experience a flight in one of 14 private planes, thanks to the generosity of the pilots. Cub Scout flights went around the airport while Boy Scouts were flown to the North Carolina Aviation Museum in Asheboro for a short visit and lunch.

About 35 Boy Scouts earned the Aviation merit badge, according to event organizer Mike Shouse. To do so, they had to do things like attend the "ground school" class, operate a flight simulator, interview a pilot or instructor, describe the World War II plane that the Commemorative Air Force brought as part of its display, and write about the museum trip.

M. J. McKittrick
Marketing/Publicity Chairman
Moore District
Occoneechee Council
Southern Pines, N.C.

Thank-you for autism article

I join many parents of Scouts with autism spectrum disorders in thanking you for the article in the September 2006 issue about these boys in Scouting. For boys who have difficulty understanding social situations [due to an autism spectrum disorder], Scouting provides a regular social group that gives them opportunities to interact with others to improve their social skills while enjoying outdoor activities.

I agree with your article that parental involvement is essential to the success of such boys—as it is with all boys. Close communication between parents and Scoutmasters is also key to success.

With appropriate support of parents and adult Scout leaders, Scouting provides a great opportunity [for boys with autism] to engage socially with others and gain the important life skills of cooperation, organization, leadership, and outdoor skills.

I hope the BSA will continue to develop means of supporting units to include boys of all abilities.

Scott Cochrane
Committee Chairman, Troop 504
Amherst, Mass.

Article provides helpful resources

I was facing the coming Scouting year with uncertainty, until I received the September issue of Scouting and read the article "Boys With Autism Can Thrive in Scouting With Help."

My son, who has Asperger syndrome, crossed over from Cub Scouting to Boy Scouting in February. I had been his Cub Scout den leader since first grade and, like other parents of children with autism, was used to going the extra mile to expose him to enriching social groups.

Because an area Boy Scout troop that serves boys with disabilities was located too far from our home, I chose for my son's first experience in Boy Scouting a very structured troop with an understanding Scoutmaster and a dedicated patrol leader.

Despite their great support, my son had issues, and [the experiences on] our first troop camping trip in April caused me to fear we would not be able to continue in Scouting.

However, the article let me know I am not alone. More importantly, the sidebars contained information on resources, such as Web sites and materials like an Individual Scout Achievement Plan and a handout [to provide] a simple explanation to other Scouts of the special needs of a Scout with autism. (I even learned there is an application for Alternative Eagle Scout Rank!)

Hopefully, this information combined with our great troop will afford my son and me many years of outdoor enjoyment and Scouting camaraderie.

Kathy O'Brien-LoGiudice,
Hazlet, N.J.

Venturers visit Peru

This past summer, 28 youth and adults from Venturing Crew 53, chartered to the Little Church on the Prairie, Lakewood, Wash., made a two-week trip to remote villages in the area of Cuzco, a city of about 300,000 located in Peru's Andes Mountains.

Members of Venturing Crew 53, Lakewood, Wash., pose with Andean villagers during their two-week goodwill trip to Peru.
Photograph Courtesy of Venturing Crew 53

With the assistance of the Rotary Club of Clover Park, Wash., the Venturers were able to collect and deliver hundreds of children's books to three newly formed libraries, plus more than 300 pounds of much-needed clothing and shoes.

With several hundred fruit trees purchased from the university in Cuzco, the Venturers were also able to start a new fruit orchard for the village of Huanoquite, providing an important supplement to the diet of the farming community.

Two-hundred pounds of school supplies were delivered to three area elementary schools that serve several hundred youth in small adobe schoolhouses that have few other resources for education.

Following the visits and work in the villages, Crew 53 met with Peruvian Scouts from Cuzco for a day of fun and games before departing on a six-day trek through the Andes, culminating with a visit to Machu Picchu, the "lost city of the Incas."

Crew members worked for two years to earn money for this trip and were assisted in their project by the local Rotary clubs, International Mountain Guides, Goodwill Industries, SportPak Outdoor Equipment, and many of Lakewood's citizens.

Alan Billingsley
Advisor, Crew 53
Lakewood, Wash.

Where's the video?

The Troop Program Features 2006-2007 "Yearly Program Planning" insert in the May-June 2006 issue for Scoutmasters and assistants includes several mentions of a Troop Program Planning video.

Where can I get a copy of the video?

Peter Griessler
Indian Harbour Beach, Fla.

The video is no longer available. Unfortunately, the reference to it was not deleted when the introduction to the 2006-2007 Troop Program Features insert was updated for the May-June 2006 issue.

Scouts aid in tornado relief

Friday, April 7, 2006, was middle Tennessee's worst tornado day in eight years, as storms flattened businesses, destroyed at least 700 homes, and claimed 12 lives.

Local authorities sent out requests for help from community organizations, and as soon as the area was deemed safe by rescue squads, many Scouts answered the call of service.

Packs and troops assisted in food preparation and delivery, as well as debris pickup and removal.

Afterward, Gallatin-area homeowners Gerald and Sylvia Bordenet wrote: "Please thank the boys and tell them they did a wonderful job. Their kindness lifted our spirits and gave us the heart for the task ahead."

Council executive board member Stephen Cook told us that "our house was...destroyed on Friday in the tornadoes, but...you'll be proud to know that some of the first people that showed up Saturday morning were Boy Scouts with some food. They did not know who I was, obviously, but it really made me feel good about what I do with the Boy Scouts."

The packs and troops that participated are too numerous to list, but everyone involved deserves a thank-you. They stepped up to help in the wake of tragedy, and their willingness to assist and the concern they showed for their fellow Tennesseans exemplify the true definition of a Scout. The Scouting spirit was clearly present.

Jeff Lipscomb
Executive Board Member
Middle Tennessee Council
Nashville, Tenn.

A jamboree family vacation

We are a Scouting family. My husband is an Eagle Scout and a Cubmaster. Our 9-year-old is a Cub Scout, our 12-year-old is a Boy Scout, and I was a den leader for four years.

During our family vacation last summer, we were in Washington, D.C., (along with thousands of other Boy Scouts and adult leaders) at the time of the 2005 National Scout Jamboree. Wherever we went, we met Scouts from all parts of the United States—at the memorials, the museums, the White House and the Capitol, at the Gettysburg battlefield in Pennsylvania, and even at McDonald's!

I want to commend the Scouts and their leaders who were in Washington that week; those we met were polite, well-behaved, uniformed young men who were excellent examples of the values of Scouting.

Seeing and meeting them made us prouder than ever to be associated with Scouting and the fine young men and dedicated adults who are part of this movement. Congratulations for displaying the values and behaviors emphasized in Scouting; you represented the BSA well.

Janet Fullmer
Milwaukee, Wis.

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November - December 2006 Table of Contents

Copyright © 2006 by the Boy Scouts of America. All rights thereunder reserved; anything appearing in Scouting magazine or on its Web site may not be reprinted either wholly or in part without written permission. Because of freedom given authors, opinions may not reflect official concurrence.