Edited by John Clark
FIFTY YEARS AND COUNTING
A 90-year-old den leader and the world’s tallest man wouldn’t seem to have a lot in common. But check out the 2001 edition of Guinness World Records, and you’ll find both of them listed.
That’s because Marion Rohner of Cub Scout Pack 173 in New York’s Hudson Valley Council holds the record for longest-serving den leader in the world. The world’s tallest man was a soaring 8 feet, 11 inches. Rohner reached even greater heights with a 50-year Scouting career that hasn’t slowed with age.
In 1958, a fellow mom approached Rohner about becoming a den leader — then called a den mother. Since then, Rohner has seen Cub Scouts from her den become mayors, city officials, and fire chiefs. She’s seen boys return years later as fathers with their own sons at their side. She’s even seen the city tweak parking regulations in front of her house to ease the spike in traffic flow after weekly den meetings there.
Because of her service, Rohner found a spot in the same book that lists the world’s most expensive pair of jeans ($60,000), the world’s fastest consumption of a 12-inch pizza (19.9 seconds), and the highest jump by a dog (68 inches).
Officials from Port Jervis, N.Y., where Rohner lives, commemorated her place in the annual book of superlatives in 2001 with a celebration in her honor and a historical marker placed outside her home. The marker stands much taller than Rohner and looks similar to one you’d find in front of a former battlefield. Rohner didn’t know about the recognition until she was walking up to the doors of the council’s annual Scout breakfast that year.
She remembers it like this: “On the way down the hall, the Cubmaster came to me and said, ‘Now don’t be shocked. Something big is going to happen.’ I said, ‘Is there trouble?’ He says, ‘No, just stay calm no matter what happens.’”
The room was packed with former Cub Scouts and leaders who had come from as far away as Florida to congratulate and thank her. Several newspapers, including The New York Times, were on hand to cover the feel-good story that pretty much wrote itself.
Seven years later, the fanfare has died down, and some of the paint on the historical marker has faded, but Rohner has not. Her youthful energy and passion when discussing Scouting belies the fact that she’s a nonagenarian.
“I’ve stayed with it because I love it,” she says. “It’s a wonderful thing. Our goals are dedication to God, country, and family. Now how could you beat that?”
Rohner’s reach extends to the parent volunteers, too, says Sharon Siegel, who is still involved in Scouting even though her sons were in Rohner’s den in the ’70s and ’80s.
“She’s really part of our family,” Siegel said. “Somehow she makes a connection, and it never breaks; it just keeps on going. She’s just an amazing person.”
— Bryan Wendell
EAGLE SCOUTS ON CALL
How many Eagle Scouts does it take to staff the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic?
Scout Executive Kenn Miller of the Greater Cleveland Council had no clue when he set out to search for former Scouts through the BSA’s Alumni Connection program. Launched to inspire and engage the Scouting community’s participation in the BSA’s 100th anniversary celebrations in 2010, the program has led to reconnections all across the country.
“For whatever reason, a group of guys can work together for years and never tell each other they’d been Eagle Scouts,” Miller says.
“I wish they did,” he added with a chuckle.
As he returned from a photo shoot for the council newsletter at the offices of the Cuyahoga County coroner, himself an Eagle Scout, Miller got the idea to publicize his search at the Cleveland Clinic, which, with 30,000 employees, ranks as the county’s largest employer.
With the help of two known Eagle Scouts at the clinic — David Rowan, chief legal officer, and Paul Koomer, administrative director of Global Patient Services, as well as past council president Bert Moyar, who serves on the clinic’s board of directors — Miller worked with the clinic’s marketing department to call for Eagles through internal e-mail and daily staff updates.
“I thought if we got 30, we’d be doing well,” he says, “But I worried that if we turned up only five or so, it would be embarrassing.”
Two weeks later, the marketing staff invited respondents to show up and have their photo taken together.
How many responded? Miller still sounds incredulous.
“We had 92 current clinic employees who are Eagle Scouts,” he said, “running the gamut from surgeons to administrators to maintenance staff and ranging in age from the mid-20s to the 60s.”
Forty-two Eagles showed up (though only 37 made it to the photo session).
“These guys were looking around at one another saying, ‘I didn’t know you are an Eagle!’ ‘You either!’
“After the shoot, I told them I was giving them one of our council patches, but, true to Scouting, they had to earn it. I asked them to recite the Scout Oath. On cue, right there in the lobby, 42 guys raised their hands in the Scout sign and repeated the Oath word-for-word.”
Miller, who recently moved on to deputy regional director of the Central Region in Chicago, also conducted an Eagle search through the local newspaper, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, that turned up 182 Eagle Scouts, and he says plans are under way to replicate the search at Sherwin-Williams, the paint manufacturer whose headquarters are located in Cleveland.
“These searches gave our staff excellent resources to follow up on,” Miller says. “Our biggest challenge every day is getting people to recognize the value, to themselves and to the BSA, of continuing to be a part of this organization.
“They’re already in the club,” he adds, “they just need to be reminded and reconnected.”
Pee Wee Harris promotes 2010 scout jamboree
Freckle-flecked Pee Wee Harris, whose cartoon escapades appear every month in Boys’ Life magazine, comes to “life” in a four-minute video available now from local BSA councils throughout the United States.
The animated and live-action adventure on DVD begins in Pee Wee’s room at home when his buddy Sam shows up.
“Hey, dude. What’s up?” Sam says.
“Just watching this tight DVD of my brother’s souvenir video of the 2005 National Scout Jamboree,” Pee Wee responds.
Sam’s not impressed. “What’s so great about a jamboree?” he asks. “Isn’t that just like a big camporee?”
“Yeah,” Pee Wee says, laughing, “and LeBron James is just another basketball player. Hey, why don’t you come to the jamboree with me?”
“Aw, I don’t know, man,” Sam says. “I like my summers off.”
BSA produced the video to promote the 2010 National Scout Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill in the Virginia countryside. Taking place July 26-Aug. 4, the jamboree will celebrate 100 years of U.S. Scouting with a wide range of outdoor-skills activities and leadership-development opportunities.
Designed for use at council-level recruiting rallies or jamboree orientation sessions, the DVD represents a new direction for the BSA. “We printed a brochure,” says John Alline, national jamboree director, “But we wanted to give the promotion an interesting perspective that all Scouts, Scouters, and their parents can identify with. And who better than Pee Wee Harris?”
Pee Wee’s artist, Mike Adair of Hallmark Cards, drew the animation cells for the project. And for the first time ever, Scouters can hear Pee Wee talk. Cool!
“It shows the energy, enthusiasm, diversity, and variety of activities that will take place at the 2010 jamboree,” Alline says.
The DVD does that by letting Pee Wee play Sam the 2005 jamboree video, showing a kinetic montage of Scouts having the time of their lives playing volleyball, trail biking, kayaking, mountain boarding, getting sprayed with water from a fire-truck hose, and more, as well as viewing exhibits mounted by the U.S. Armed Forces and just chilling with the guys.
Will Sam change his attitude about attending the jamboree with Pee Wee? Will your Scouts?
Contact your local Scout council service center to get a copy of “Jamboree 2010, 100 Years of Scouting,” with Pee Wee and Sam pictured right on the disc. Or to sign up for more information about the 2010 National Scout Jamboree, go to www.bsajamboree.org.