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Boy Scout troop recognizes outstanding youth

BY: Community Papers of WNY Staff | December 01, 2012

Boy Scout Troop No. 98 from Pendleton recently recognized two outstanding young men.

Brian Zuch, 16, and Bob Adams, 17, both from Pendleton received their rank of Eagle Scout, the highest rank in scouting. These awards culminate a journey that began when the boys joined scouting as Cub Scouts as first graders when they were 6 years old.

As the journey through scouting nears its end for Bob, Brian and some others, Tim Zuch, Scoutmaster of Troop 98 took time to reflect on this 11-year experience.

Zuch said among other things, scouting has taught the kids how to be responsible and how to take responsibility for their own actions. As an example, Zuch points out as a member of a patrol — a small team within a troop — boys have to plan and execute their own meals on camp-outs. If for example a patrol member fails in his responsibility to gather firewood for a campfire meal, his entire patrol will go without a hot dinner.

When his son Brian signed up for Cub Scouts in first grade, Zuch, himself an Eagle Scout, naturally assumed a leadership position. Tim led a small group of about eight boys of the same age, called a den, through weekly meetings generally held in a family home. A typical meeting might include simple tasks that involve learning by doing like making paper airplanes, followed by a game and a snack. The whole meeting might last an hour.

Once a month, Tim’s group would join other dens representing boys from age five to age 11 at a pack meeting that might feature a reptile show or the famous “Pinewood Derby.” This larger group would assemble at the sponsor’s facility, in this case Good Sheppard church.

Zuch stresses that parent involvement is key no matter what level of experience or other commitments a parent might have. To be a den leader, Zuch suggests an hour a week of preparation might be needed in addition to the time spent at the meeting itself.

“The more time you devote, the better the experience for the boys,” he said. “Baking a plate of cookies can be just as helpful as planning or hosting a meeting.”

Training for volunteers is provided for free by the local Boy Scout Council and all parent volunteers must successfully complete a youth protection course every two years.

“We can’t be too careful in this matter,” said Zuch. “Boy Scout policy mandates that under no circumstances can a boy be left alone one-on-one with a non-parental adult. Under the Two-Deep policy, boys must be accompanied by another scout and two adults at all times, unless of course he’s with a parent.”

When the boys reach age 11 or enter sixth grade they can join Boy Scouts.

“Parents and kids often don’t’ realize they can join scouting at any time from first grade all the way up until they’re 18,” said Zuch.

If the boys are interested in attaining a rank of Eagle, it pays to get the boys in at a younger age. To advance in rank, boys need to complete a series of defined goals that include learning about first aid, cooking, citizenship and community service to name a few. In addition, boys must earn merit badges.

When asked about merit badges, Zuch describes them as “awards given that represent the successful exploration of a skill or profession.” Merit badges recognize many disciplines from swimming to environmental studies.

In fact, according the BSA website, Steven Spielberg himself an Eagle Scout traces his success to a film he produced while completing his photography merit badge.

“Merit badges can give a boy a glimpse into a career through basic hands-on exploration,” said Zuch.

As Brian grew, Zuch took on greater and greater responsibility within the leadership first as camping coordinator for three years then finally as Scoutmaster.

“As camping coordinator I made sure we camped each month as a troop and also arranged for summer camps,” he said. “Our boys have been to Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, Mt. Rushmore, they’ve been rock-climbing, gone white water rafting, canoed in the Boundary waters of Minnesota, climbed frozen waterfalls in Lake Placid.”

Six members of Troop No. 98 attended all three “High Adventure” camps offered by BSA earning them the “Triple Crown” award including four boys and two adult leaders.

“These are the experiences we offer boys as an alternative to playing video games all summer,” said Zuch.

While it may sound like scouting is all about the camping and adventures, Tim suggests that much more can be gained through the scouting experience.

“Our troop prides itself on community service,” he said.

Troop No. 98 Scouts regularly participate in food drives, adopt-a-highway, they volunteer annually at the Wendelville fire department field days and helped organize and run a 5k benefit called “Dave’s Dash.” They also prepare and serve meals at homeless shelters. “Our job is to teach kids to be good citizens” said Zuch.

Zuch is looking forward to his last big trip next summer to the National Parks of the West while his son is still in the troop. But with an 18th birthday and college marking the end for Brian, Zuch’s not looking to slow down anytime soon.

“I think I’ll hang around for awhile after Brian’s done,” he said.

Troop No. 98 Meets every Thursday from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Pendleton Center United Methodist Church.

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