Brandon Kathman FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Community Relations Chairman 9/13/23
Clarkston Scout Hosts 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony
CLARKSTON – A local Scout organized a remembrance ceremony at the Oakland County
Sportsmen’s Club on the twenty-second anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Abhik Arya, 17, is a Life Scout with Clarkston’s Troop 185B and aspires to the rank of Eagle,
Scouting’s highest honor. The badge’s penultimate requirement charges youth to complete a
service project that benefits their community, known as an Eagle Project. According to Arya, he
felt called to pay tribute to the Americans who lost their lives during the 9/11 attacks. As the
Sportsmen’s Club has supported his troop for years, they were an obvious partner.
“I want to give back to my community and country by honoring it in a way I can,” Arya said. “I
want to be able to bring people together and have them go home and recount what happened to
others. I want people to know the sad and courageous story of those who were killed or injured in
the terrorist attacks of 9/11.”
Arya invited dozens of Scouts from across Oakland County to the event, along with club
members, veterans from Waterford VFW Post 1008 and the Independence Fire Department. The
Scout called the audience to attention at 7:00 p.m. and delivered a brief tribute to those who lost
their lives, followed by a moment of reverent silence.
He then directed the Scouts in a flag retirement ceremony. According to Arya, he had the idea to
include this when a neighbor approached him about discarding worn American flags. He
immediately recognized that the inherent solemnity, reverence and symbolism would complement
the evening’s desired ambiance. Scouts are among the few groups that still perform such
retirements regularly, with the US Flag Code mandating that badly worn or tattered flags be
“destroyed in a dignified manner.”
Having been instructed by Arya beforehand, the youth in the ceremony’s flag detail began with
banners made of cotton materials, laying them atop a pyre to be incinerated. The nylon flags were
then buried at the site, as they would release toxic fumes if burned. The evening concluded with a
rendition of “Taps” by Troop 185B’s bugler, Life Scout Nathan Beutler, 17.
“I hope that people will remember my Eagle Scout project as more than just a flag retirement
ceremony, but a day when people came together for the fallen and retired flags to honor them,”
With his project complete, Arya will soon go before an Eagle Board of Review, which will
determine whether to grant him the rank. Once approved, he will join an exclusive fellowship, as
only 6% of registered Scouts ever achieve the honor.
"Earning the rank of Eagle Scout is not just the highest rank that a Scout can achieve, but a
testament to a Scout’s commitment to excellence, service, and leadership,” Troop 185B
Scoutmaster Tyler Cooper explained. “We are incredibly proud of the fantastic job that Abhik has
done throughout all phases of this project, and we know that he will continue to be an amazing
ambassador for Scouting.”
Picture 1: Flags to be buried during the retirement ceremony are stored in a custom box.
Picture 2: Arya poses with firefighters before the ceremony.
Picture 3: Arya directs Scouts in burying the nylon flags.
Picture 4: Troop bugler Nate Beutler, 17, performs “Taps.”
Picture 5: Arya is currently a Life Scout with Troop 185B.
Brandon Kathman FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Sr. District Executive & Operations Marketing Lead 3/10/23
22 Eagle Scouts Gather to Celebrate New Award Recipient
Twenty-two Eagle Scouts of multiple generations gathered at the Packard Proving Ground in
Shelby to attend a “Court of Honor” for the award’s latest recipient, Daron Decator Jr., 16, of
“We have a saying: once an Eagle, forever an Eagle,” Paul Hardy, Scouting’s local district
executive, said. “It’s an honor one will carry with them for their entire life; moreover, it’s a
standard they are charged to uphold.”
With over 100 youth, volunteers and family members in attendance, the ceremony was atypical in
the number of Eagle alumni present. Only 6% of youth in the program will ever attain the rank,
making them a “rare breed.” Assistant Scoutmaster and Eagle Scout Kurt Fobare served as the
event’s master of ceremonies.
“Awarding the rank of Eagle Scout is an important and serious matter,” Fobare said. “It is the
climax and goal toward which a Scout has been working for many years. Therefore, the occasion
which celebrates the Scout’s accomplishment should be something special.”
The ceremony culminated in the recitation of the Eagle Scout Promise, a sacred tradition in which
all Eagles present rise and rededicate themselves to Scouting’s mission. Even as Decator repeated
the words for the first time, others present knew them by heart after years with the program.
According to Hardy, the moment was especially moving with so many Eagles present.
“I reaffirm my allegiance to the three promises of the scout Oath,” the Eagles in attendance
recited. “I thoughtfully recognize and take upon myself the obligations and responsibilities of an
Eagle Scout. On my honor, I will do my best to make my training an example and my status and
my influence count strongly for better Scouting and for better citizenship in my troop, in my
community, and in my contacts with other people. To this I pledge my sacred honor.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Sr. District Executive & Operations Marketing Lead 2/21/23
Scout Dons Uniform for Ceremony at Arlington
A local Scout received a rare opportunity during a recent school trip to Washington D.C., as he
placed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Ceremony while
wearing his uniform.
Alex Burke, 14, participates in the Scouting program through Lake Orion Troop 284 along with
Clarkston Troop 185 and attends Oakview Middle School. As part of this year’s 8th grade class trip
to Washington D.C., four youth were selected to participate in the wreath ceremony. In order to
be considered, students were asked to submit an essay on why they should be chosen to represent
their community at the site.
In his essay, Burke explained that the tomb has a deep significance to his family. Five generations
of his family members have been called to serve in the US military, including several Purple Heart
“I wanted to honor all of the people inside and outside of my family who gave their lives to protect
this country,” Burke said.
On learning he had been selected, Burke also determined to wear his Scout uniform for the event.
“I thought it would be good representation of Scouts and what we do,” Burke said. “It was a good
opportunity to show people that we do a lot for the community.”
Assistant Scoutmaster Rob Pote, a retired lieutenant colonel, helped Burke prepare for the
ceremony. A well-known keystone of the Scouting movement in Oakland County, Pote taught
Burke the basics of military drill.
“I really wanted to do it the proper way, the respectful way,” Burke said. “I wanted to learn all the
moves perfectly. He showed me how to march, how to turn and about the importance of the tomb
Though Burke admitted to feeling nervous, he and his classmates performed the ceremony
perfectly, with all due reverence and respect. According to his mother, it was a deeply moving
“My heart was filled with pride,” Charity Burke said. “I think he did wonderful. He honored his
troop, his school, his community, his family and all of the unknown soldiers.”
Picture 1: Rob Pote instructs Burke on the basics of drill in preparation for the ceremony.
Picture 2: Burke stands at attention next to the tomb.
Brandon Kathman FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Sr. District Executive & Operations Marketing Lead 1/24/2023
Scouts’ Competition Adapts to Warmer Winter
Local Scouts held their annual winter “Hodag” competition with over 220 participants on Jan 21;
this was accomplished in spite of abnormally high temperatures and a lack of snow at Camp
Agawam in Lake Orion.
The event, which is modeled after the Alaskan Iditarod sled race, pits Scout troops in friendly
competition as they travel between stations designed to test their skills. Hosted by the youth of
Scouting’s honor society, the Order of the Arrow, the event requires troops to stow their gear in a
sled dragged from station to station.
“The planning for this year’s Hodag was different than before,” Chapter Chief Teo Gammons, 17,
of the Order of the Arrow, said. “We brought new activities to the event. People had fun, even
though the sled race had to be modified.”
Temperatures in the upper 30s and a series of atypical rainstorms left the campgrounds damp and
muddy for an event typically reliant on snow. However, according to Gammons, the Scouting
program teaches youth to innovate and overcome new challenges.
Many troops outfitted their sleds with wheels to become chariots of sorts, ensuring their use would
still be possible, even on a muddy field. Order of the Arrow members took turns carrying their
mascot, “Manny,” a 50-pound stuffed moose, in the races as an unofficial competitor; when the
youth became tired, several adult volunteers stepped up to carry the oversized plush animal.
“Hodag is an event I look forward to every year,” Anthony Goatley, 16, of Lake Orion Troop 284,
said. “The energy is wonderful, and it’s always nice to see some old friends.”
Saint Clair Shores Troop 1407 ultimately carried the day, winning the competition. However,
according to one local Scout, Manny was just a “different kind of winner.”
According to Field Director Bob DeWar, the success of the event in spite of uncooperative
weather conditions speaks to the resilience of the youth leadership.
“We are so proud of the amazing young people who step up and lead their own adventures in
Scouting,” DeWar said. “This was another great event, and the high attendance speaks to the trust
our movement has in its young leaders.”
Picture 1: Clarkston Troop 189 races in a grudge match against Manny the Moose, carried by local executive Brandon Kathman.
Picture 2: Troop 1407 are named winners of the 2023 Hodag competition.
Picture 3: Lake Orion Scout Liam O’Dea holds up a stuffed fish, making a joke about “frozen fish.”
Picture 4: Lake Orion Troop 128G competes in a game of giant Jenga.
Picture 5: Lake Orion Troop 128B races to assemble a tent.
Picture 6: Troop 128G pulls a modified sled, converted into a chariot of sorts.
Picture 7: Wheeled sleds race against Manny the Moose, carried by Liam O’Dea.
Brandon Kathman FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Sr. District Executive & Operations Marketing Lead 1/10/2023
Michigan Scouts See Membership Boom Post-COVID
Scouting’s local Michigan Crossroads Council saw an unprecedented increase in youth
membership in 2022, registering 9,648 new participants to end the year with over 27,000
Though initially hindered in its operations by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Michigan Crossroads
Council, which spans the Lower Peninsula, was well positioned to bounce back, according to
Deputy CEO Gary Gilger.
“Families have spent more time together due to COVID, and so they are now seeking out
programs that can be done as a family,” Gilger said. “Further, Scouting provides youth with the
socialization lost during the pandemic, which is great for child development.”
Gilger said much of the growth has been observed in the Cub Scout program, which serves youth
in elementary school. The council ended 2022 with 1,739 more Cub Scouts than the year prior.
Gilger noted exceptional growth in Cub Scout units in Flint, Pontiac, Port Huron, Detroit and
Dearborn as a result of new outreach efforts to previously underserved communities.
“Building on this success in 2023, there will be a special emphasis on middle and high school-age youth to have growth in our older programs,” Gilger said.
Cubmaster Mikah Wisner of Pack 186 in Lake Orion watched his unit swell from a dozen youth members at the beginning of the year to over 50 participants on Dec. 31. According to Wisner, while it has been a challenge to manage such growth, he has enjoyed seeing so many families interested in participating.
“It’s such a refreshing experience to see the growth of youth and parents wanting to get back out
into nature and learn life skills,” Wisner said. “The parents are understanding how important Scouts can be.”
The Boy Scouts of America National Office announced 3% growth across its 253 local councils
on Jan. 6, or a third of the rate at which Scouting in Michigan is growing.
Picture 1: Interested families attend a Join Scouting Night at Oakside Academy in Waterford.
Picture 2: New Scout Nic Jeffreys poses with his first fish at D-A Scout Ranch in Metamora.
Picture 3: Scouts carry out a first aid drill at Camp Agawam in Lake Orion
Picture 4: Scouts with Waterford Pack 61 march in a holiday parade.
Picture 5: Waterford Pack 61 Scouts pose for a group photograph.
Picture 6: Scouts in Sterling Heights participate in the 2022 Scouting for Food Drive.
Sr. District Executive
Scouts’ Food Drive a Success in Oakland County
Hundreds of local Scouts helped make the 2022 Scouting for Food drive a success, with over
46,000 pounds of food collected for charities in Oakland County alone.
The drive, which is held between November and December across the state, is the Scouts’ largest
service project of the year. According to project coordinator Bob DeWar, over 100 local packs and
troops have taken part so far in 2022.
“While our drive has concluded in Oakland County, we still have food to collect elsewhere in
Michigan,” DeWar said. “With that said, local Scouts have given us a great start.”
Between Nov. 5 and Nov. 13, Scouts distributed special grocery bags to homes across Oakland
County, requesting that they be filled with nonperishable essentials and placed on doorsteps for
pickup. A week later, those same youth returned to collect on behalf of numerous nonprofits.
Much of the food went to drop sites facilitated by Gleaners Community Food Bank.
“Scouts who participate are walking away with a lesson, not just about the need for good deeds,
but also the rewarding feeling that comes with helping your neighbors,” Kevin Lauro, who
supervised a Gleaners drop site in Novi, said.
The Scouts hope to build on the success of the food drive in years to come. DeWar expressed a
hope that 2023 may see new collection sites and partnerships introduced.
“We’re so proud of all that our young people have accomplished so far this year,” DeWar said.
“As a parent, I was able to watch my own son and daughter participate, and that means the world
to me. As we watch each truckload of food arrive at the collection sites, we can also watch our
children learning valuable life lessons.”
The 2022 Scouting for Food initiative will officially conclude with a final collection in the
Thumb, which will occur in December. For more information about local Scouting, including
upcoming events and how to join a unit, visit michiganscouting.org.