Scouting delegation presents report to state legislators
Scouting’s Michigan Crossroads Council held its first ever “Scout Day at the Capital” in Lansing on June 23.
Written by Jesse Quintana
Scouts from all over Michigan attended to represent the organization at the state legislature. The event included activities like archery and rock climbing on the lawn as well as a free lunch.
Over 500 scouts flooded the grounds from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Throughout the day, scouts entered the capital building and took hour-long guided tours. The tour took scouts through all five floors. The floors had many educational features, including portraits of former governors and a room full of past state flags.
“I think scouts can learn a lot about our state government,” Council CEO Don Shepard said of the event. “Whatever these scouts participate in, they’re bound to learn a little bit of something.”
At 11:30 a.m. twelve youth delegates selected from across the state assembled at a podium on the capitol steps. They expressed how the Scouting movement has changed their lives and the lives of others around them.
“Scouting does truly care about how their nation is and how it’s running,” Vivien Burke of Waterford Troop 185 said. “They care about the future, and the younger scouts are definitely the future. Showing them how everything works and runs will definitely teach them.”
After the speeches, scouts dispersed across the lawn to participate in other activities. One of the more popular activities was the rock climbing wall. Scouts went head-to-head with politicians in the “challenge a scout” competition.
Another activity was archery. The inflatable range used bows with foam-tipped arrows. The targets were plastic balls suspended by air streams. There was a science table with many experiments that the scouts could conduct. There were balloons that scouts would fill by running and rockets that would run on water and “fizz tablets.”
After the speeches, a hotdog lunch was provided to all in attendance. According to the scouts, it was a great experience that also showcased the institution’s functions.
Brandon Kathman For Immediate Release:
District Executive 6/3/2022
Oxford volunteer named “Scoutmaster of the Year”
Scouting’s local Pontiac-Manito District has named Blake Streeter of Oxford Troop 366 “Scoutmaster of the Year” in recognition of dedication to the youth of his unit.
Representatives from the district, which spans much of Oakland County, attended Troop 366’s Court of Honor at LakePoint Community Church on June 1 to present Streeter with the award. According to the district, this was so Streeter could celebrate with the families he has served for almost a decade.
“It was a great honor,” Streeter said. “I didn’t even know I had been nominated.”
For nine years, Streeter has worked with the young people of the troop, including his four sons. As Scoutmaster, he has empowered the youth leadership to succeed during weekly meetings and nearly a dozen campouts each year. Beyond weekend trips, Streeter has twice accompanied the troop to the National High Adventure Sea base in the Florida Keys, where the youth crewed and slept aboard a tall ship.
Other adventures have included a white water rafting excursion in Pennsylvania and a journey to Pictured Rocks in the Upper Peninsula. Under his guidance, Troop 366 has become the largest Scouting unit serving middle and high school aged youth in Oxford.
“I hope the kids learned everything related to the Scout Law, being involved in the community and becoming better citizens,” Streeter said. “I hope they learned from all the merit badges and perhaps found something that peaks their interest for what they might want to do.”
For Streeter, watching youth attain the rank of Eagle Scout, Scouting’s highest honor, has been among the most rewarding privileges of a scoutmaster. In April, he witnessed his own son, Dakota, receive the award.
“I’ve enjoyed every minute of it,” Streeter said of his experience in Scouting.
Those interested in learning more about Scouting in Oxford should visit beascout.org or contact the district office at (947) 886-5736.
For Immediate Release:
Oakland County scouts honor Memorial Day with service
Scouts across Oakland County honored those who made the ultimate sacrifice this Memorial Day weekend, carrying out multiple service projects and serving as flag details in parades across southeast Michigan.
“Scouts carry out service projects because it is part of our duty to God and Country,” Dane Bezemek, Scouting’s local chairman and member of Holly Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5587, said. “It is also part of our history.”
Scouting has maintained longstanding partnerships with local cemeteries, and thousands of youth across the state put flags adjacent to the headstones of those who served to mark the holiday, working alongside veterans groups and other volunteers. Troop 366 even erected crosses in downtown Oxford bearing the names of residents who gave everything in conflicts from the Civil War to the Vietnam War.
In Davisburg, Pack 192 and Troop 192 placed American flags on the lawns of any residents who requested them. In total, the youth distributed over 100 flags before the holiday, and they will retrieve them in the coming days. Still others carried the nation’s colors in parades. Lake Orion scouts marched in one such procession, though the flag they bore was far larger than most. Affectionately nicknamed “Flagosaurus” by some youth, the massive banner required dozens of youth from multiple units to carry it along the parade route.
“A couple of years ago, Pack 233 acquired it from a business that was getting rid of it,” Derek Krentz, scoutmaster of Lake Orion Troop 284, said. “Someone added pulls to it, fixed the frayed edges, and now they bring it out for stuff like this.”
The Boy Scouts of America are among only a handful of organizations that retire American flags worn beyond possible repair. The traditional ceremony calls for flags to be cremated in a dignified manner. Many units perform these rites to coincide with Memorial Day or Flag Day.
Members of Pack 182, Troop 128, Troop 185 and Troop 810 retired 20 flags on Memorial Day at Drayton Plains Nature Center in Waterford. Bugler Nathan Beutler played “Taps” as boys and girls from the units processed and gently placed each tattered flag atop the flames.
“I hope the scouts learned the true meaning of Memorial Day,” Pack 182 Cubmaster Chris Landrum said. “We teach them that a scout is reverent. It’s one thing to teach them, but it brings new meaning when we show them. It is our honor to show the next generation how to honor the tradition.”
Scouts honor new commodore for Sea Scouting
Brandon Kathman | District Executive
BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA
Michigan Crossroads Council
The Boy Scouts of America honored local volunteer Wayne Hastings with the National Sea Scout Award in a virtual ceremony on May 21, commending him for his work with young people.
Hastings has also been appointed commodore of the Sea Scouting program in National Service Territory 9, which spans Michigan, Ohio and Indiana. Sea Scouting, while founded on the same core principles as traditional Scouting, places particular emphasis on boating and water-based activities.
“I have a real love for sailing and a real love of Scouting, and this is where they come together,” Hastings said.
A member of the Port Huron Yacht Club, Hastings volunteers with local Sea Scout Ship 109. In addition to nautical know-how, Hastings said he enjoys teaching youth leadership skills, which they will use throughout their lives. Ship 109 meets several times each month, and occasionally the youth help crew racing vessels during the club’s regattas
“It’s a different program, but all the Scouting values are the same,” Hastings said. “Being safe on the water is a lifelong skill living in Michigan. Knowing how to be safe on the water can save your child’s life or equip them to save someone else’s life.”
An Eagle Scout himself, Hastings grew up in Nebraska and was never exposed to the Sea Scouts as a youth. After learning about the program through friends at the yacht club, Hastings accepted a position as unit commissioner for ships in the Blue Water District, which covers the Thumb’s eastern coastline.
“Wayne is a fantastic volunteer and ambassador for the Scouting movement,” Christa Warner, executive for the Blue Water District, said. “We are so lucky to have him, and we are proud of all he has achieved.”
Eventually, Hastings became involved with the National Sea Scout Committee and helped to found new ships. He also serves as assistant council commissioner for the Michigan Crossroads Council.
“Now that I’m retired, Scouting is my full-time hobby,” Hastings said.
To learn more about the local Sea Scout program or other opportunities in Scouting, contact the district office at (810) 841-5568.
Scout restores centuries-old headstones
By Brandon Kathman
BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA
Michigan Crossroads Council
A local scout is refurbishing the final resting places of Clarkston’s first families at Lakeview Cemetery, fulfilling his final requirement for the rank of Eagle Scout.
“I chose this project because a love for history has always been a part of my life,” James LaZar, 17, said.
LaZar’s efforts are part of a broader initiative to restore the 190-year-old graveyard. The Lakeview Cemetery Restoration Project is facilitated by the Daughters of the American Revolution and partners with many community stakeholders, according to project co-chair Joette Kunse.
“We want to see the stones restored because these are the early settlers of Clarkston,” Kunse said.
LaZar explained that his involvement began when he overheard Kunse telling his father about the initiative at a dinner event.
“As I listened, I knew this would be perfect for my Eagle Scout Project,” LaZar said. “I asked Joette if I could be in contact with her and choose this as my Eagle Project, and she happily agreed.”
Scouts from multiple units, including LaZar’s own Troop 189, participated in the cleaning phase of his project. The headstones scrubbed were among the oldest in the cemetery, with some predating the Civil War.
The cleaning process for each headstone began with scouring the edifice using only water and soft-bristle brushes. Once the outer layer of grime and lichen had been removed, each stone was doused with Wet & Forget, a multi-surface stain remover, and left to dry. This process was repeated twice for each marker.
“James chose an interesting beneficiary for his Eagle project,” Troop 189 Committee Chair Sherry Snudden said. “It’s really neat that his project will help sustain part of Clarkston’s history for years to come.”
According to LaZar, as clean as the stones appear now, they will only look better as time passes and the Wet & Forget does its job. Now that the intact stones look as good as new, LaZar will turn his attention to repairing the broken or damaged stones under the mentorship of the Carter Cemetery Preservation company.
Scouts collect over $6,000 for Ukrainian refugees
By Brandon Kathman | District Executive
BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA
Michigan Crossroads Council
A pancake breakfast hosted by Clarkston Troop 189 collected approximately $6,200 to support those displaced by the war in Ukraine.
“They’re putting their lives and their destinies into humanity’s hands,” Tom Snudden, one of the event coordinators, said. “We just wanted to try and be part of that, to be those hands holding them up and supporting them.”
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, over 5 million Ukrainians have fled Ukraine since the invasion began in February. Oskar Benson, a Troop 189 Eagle Scout now living abroad in Kraków, Poland, inspired his fellow scouts to action when his family began welcoming refugees into their home.
Taking place at Clarkston United Methodist Church, the breakfast was staffed by twenty scouts working alongside adult volunteers. The youth cooked and served more than 750 pancakes over the course of the meal.
“I volunteered to help the Ukrainian people and be a part of something larger than just our community, to be a step in the right direction,” Life Scout James LaZar, 17, said.
An estimated 250 people attended the breakfast, according to the troop. However, the youth working the welcome table admitted that they lost count after a while. While the breakfast only cost $10 to attend, many patrons chose to donate much more. One benefactor even pledged $500 to cover the food costs. Snudden said that other donations from those who could not attend in-person are still trickling in.
The proceeds from the event will be earmarked and divided between three nonprofits presently supporting Ukrainian refugees: the Ukrainian National Scouting Organization, the United Methodist Committee on Relief, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Poland.
“I hope that the younger scouts learned how we can go above and beyond when we work together to achieve a goal,” LaZar said.