The experiences of Annual Conference are everywhere; particularly when you are not looking for them. This works for me when I show up each Saturday of Conference with my Boy Scout uniform on. This happened this year when a conference attendee came up to me and shared a great story. Here is a reprint of an article from the Northeast Region BSA Newsletter. Editor Ken Davis captured the magic of what Scouting can do in the hands of those listening to God’s call around them. Look around you. God’s call is all around. Here our Scouting Ministry was the perfect fit! Enjoy!
— Bill Chaffin, Conference Scouting Director
In 2010 the Patriot District of the National Capital Area Council worked with the Fairfax County Virginia Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court to establish a Crew where the BSA could work with adjudicated youth in the Court’s Transitional Living Program (TLP). Due in large part to the success of that program, the Court asked in 2013 to establish a Scout Troop with the youth in the Boy’s Probation House (BPH). In March 2016 the Court awarded their Partner Award to the Boy Scouts of America for the work NCAC volunteers do with these two units. In presenting the award, Robert Bermingham, Director of Court Services, cited Scout volunteers for promoting appropriate interactions with the community, school, and job; enhancing positive socialization skills with family, peers and authority figures; increasing self-esteem; increasing the ability to identify and meet personal needs; helping to develop and utilize functional living skills; developing accountability for self; and promoting respect, responsibility, and honesty. The TLP and BPH residents are introduced to positive activities they never thought they could experience and to experience success in accomplishing goals. The Partner Award in Fairfax County is designed to honor valuable partnerships that exist between the County and its neighbors, including supporting County agency needs and cooperative work that benefits the agency and its values and vision. The agency noted that the local Boy Scout support helped achieve goals for the residents of the juvenile facilities, including:
• reduce chronic acting out behavior and facilitating successful reintegration of the youth into the community and the family home.
• To expose the residents to new and unfamiliar educational and recreational experiences, thereby allowing the youths to manage anxieties about change.
• To promote appropriate interactions with the community, school, and job.
• To enhance positive socialization skills with family, peers and authority figures.
• To increase self-esteem.
• To increase the ability to identify and meet personal needs.
• To provide for academic growth.
• To develop and utilize functional living skills.
• To develop accountability for self.
• To promote respect, responsibility, and honesty.
The Scouts meet with residents every week or two and teach them ways in which they can maintain the tenets of the Scout Oath and Scout Law by teaching them the importance of self-accountability, being honest, and doing a good deed, among other values. BSA gives the agency boys the opportunity to learn and practice positive personal skills. BSA allows the residents of BPH and TLP to experience what it feels like to have success and to accomplish a task. The boys have earned numerous merit badges including First Aid, Cooking, Communication, Music, Chess, and Swimming, just to name a few. Residents are introduced to positive activities that they never thought they would get the opportunity to experience. Crew 62 and Troop 260 go on regular camping trips and participate in the yearly BSA Camporee. In 2014, Troop 260 led the opening and closing ceremonies. It has been the goal of BSA, BPH and TLP to offer residents the continued benefit of Scouting once they leave the programs. Each program connects interested residents to Scout troops in their own community. The BSA also offers each resident who completes the programs a laptop which BSA will repair or replace at any time, if need be. When residents participate in community service and other activities, they are often reticent to communicate what organization they are from. Being a member of BSA allows them to state an organization they are a part of that they don’t have to be ashamed of. BSA has also helped to engage families in the program, by including parents in the Court of Honor ceremony where residents earn their next class and badge. A few residents who have completed the programs have elected to continue with BSA and members of BSA have even helped residents obtain employment. This is certainly one of the best possible outcomes for the BSA partnering with other groups for the good of the local community.