In my 45-plus years in Scouting, I have been everything from a Cub Scout to a Scoutmaster. I’ve participated in training and Conferences across the Southeast. I completed my Woodbadge requirements in the late 70s and my Scouters Training award around the same time.
Returning as a volunteer today, my background doesn’t matter. It was like starting over, as a new leader required to take all of the new training courses before I could work with Scouts in today’s new program.
I’ve enjoyed Scouting so much in my past that I wanted to share it with Sandy. For years, she has been contacted by Scout leaders and Scouts seeking ideas and advice for taking their troops hiking in Florida.
As a long time committee member of Crew 2076, I contacted the person who handles our registration. He sent us the forms required. We both took required online training, and took the in-person position-specific training. So we are both now recognized as “trained” by Boy Scouts of America. We even earned our first patches to sew onto our uniforms.
In November, we were asked about being instructors for the Central Florida Council’s annual University of Scouting. They wanted something about what it takes to hike the Florida Trail. With Sandy’s vast hiking experience and knowledge of the FT, she was the right person for the job! Me, I was just a 40-year Eagle Scout who still does most of the outdoor things that Scouting introduced me to. What added a special twist to our class is that I would have to take a break from doing a long distance hike on the Florida Trail to be there, so I could share stories directly from the trail.
This Saturday, we left home at 6:15 AM to be there in plenty of time for the kickoff of the University of Scouting at East River High School in Bithlo. For one day, this high school campus is filled with Scout uniforms: Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Venture Scouts, Sea Scouts, and even a few Girl Scouts. All there to learn something to enhance their piece of the program. The day is broken into hour-long classes, some designed for Scouts, others for their adult leaders.
Our program, “How to Hike the Florida Trail,” gave a brief overview of the Florida Trail and its history. We talked about the Florida Trail Association and the great potential for service projects and Eagle projects along the trail. We told our class the best times and places to hike on the trail, and gave pointers on how to prepare for a backpacking trip and what to bring along. We selected suggested sections of the Florida Trail that would meet badge requirements, and presented them as ideas for the leaders. [You can view the list here]
By the end of the day, we had 32 new people interested in the Florida Trail. Most of them were adult leaders, so if each one returns to their unit and gets them interested in hiking the Florida Trail, our mission was a success.
Sandy and I have now shared our first Scouting activity, sharing our love of the trail and the outdoors with others. Plus, we received our first participation patches! Unlike those who attended the University of Scouting, our patches say STAFF.