Story by LeAnn McCarthy | Apr 26, 2017

Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts have a rich history of growth and service.

In 1972, my brother’s pinewood derby car received more attention from my mom and dad than I did. It was a metallic, light blue hot-rod decorated with racing stickers and a spoiler. It had weights placed underneath with a precision and consideration I haven’t seen from family members since. It was important.

The car’s first run was tragic. At the gate, it looked like a sure champion, but when the race began, the car jumped the track and tumbled several feet to the ground, knocking the spoiler off. It lost, badly.

However, there was a moment of shining triumph when, at the end of the event, my brother’s car was named Best-in-Show. My parents rejoiced. Despite my animosity toward all the hoopla, I cheered with them. The Pinewood Derby was then, and still is, a family affair. In later years, when I gave birth to my boys, I knew they would be Boy Scouts like my brother.

Boy Scouts

Boy Scouts of America was founded in 1910 and has a strong heritage. I had visions of my cherubs helping little old ladies cross the street, of being summoned to help neighbors in need, and, most importantly, of being solid citizens. They would obey the Scout Law, which states, “A scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.” Clean? Sincerely a portion of the law in which my scouts struggle.

Greg Baker is development director for the Great Rivers Council of Boy Scouts. He started in scouting when he was young, attained the rank of Eagle Scout, and became an adult volunteer, a board member, and now a professional Scouter. He says the state of scouting is strong in Mid-Missouri. The Great Rivers Council encompasses Cole, Osage, Maries, and Moniteau counties, and there are 1,317 scouts and growing in this area. Nationally, there are more than 2.4 million youth participants and 1 million adult volunteers.

Baker says that, besides competing in the pinewood derby, young men can benefit from scouting in a number of ways. There are State Park Service days; soap box derby races; growth, advancement, and leadership opportunities; and the fun that camping and hiking adventures offer. My boys have been on campouts during thunderstorms, excessive heat, and, most recently, in subzero weather, with the only goal being to qualify for the elusive Clear Bead. After each campout, a bead is given to denote the weather conditions; the clear bead is the toughest to get, since it means the temperature during the campout was below zero. As I snuggled in my bed with my heated mattress pad, I thought about my little angels with their teeth chattering in their tents. I imagined them crying softly to themselves, as to not risk embarrassment, with icicles on their eyelashes, and I couldn’t sleep a wink. But the next morning, my boys returned home alive, bead in hand, laughing about the night’s events.

Scouting is more than campouts, cookie sales, knots, and hiking. Both Boy and Girl Scouting offers a sense of family, community, and camaraderie that can last a lifetime. 

Girl Scouts

Wendy Whelan is the marketing and brand manager of Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland, which serves girls and adults across 68 counties in southern and central Missouri. Whelan says Girl Scouting began over 100 years ago when founder Juliette Gordon Low, also known as “Daisy,” organized the first troop in Savannah, Georgia. Whelan says Girl Scouting in mid- Missouri is thriving. There are nearly 4,000 Girl Scouts and adult volunteers. Girl Scouts also live by a law, which states “I will do my best to be honest and fair, friendly and helpful, considerate and caring, courageous and strong, and responsible for what I say and do, and to respect myself and others, respect authority, use resources wisely, make the world a better place, and be a sister to every Girl Scout.”

Whelan says Girl Scouts gain new experiences, new friends, and confidence in themselves by being members. 84 percent of Girl Scouts say they learned and did new things in the scouts, and another 80 percent report that they were able to do things they couldn’t have done in other places. Three in four Girl Scouts say that, because of their involvement, they’ve become a leader in more activities with their friends and classmates, as well as in their community.

I’m thankful I live in a community where Scouts are active and appreciated, and I’m glad there are adult volunteers to help them along the way. 

If you or someone you know is interested in Boy Scouts please contact Kelsey.Walker@scouting.org. If you’re interested in Girl Scouts, you can visit their website at www.girlscoutsmoheartland.org.