Tuesday, October 21, 2008
It's a sad situation. The White Salmon area's Boy Scout Troop 384 -- chartered in 1948 -- is in danger of being closed down.
Troop leader Jennifer Collett of White Salmon has been planning, coordinating, and leading the Troop's 13 boys virtually by herself for the past year and a half. But she can't keep doing it alone.
Boy Scout Troop 384 is facing a November deadline for rechartering, a process the Troop goes through every year.
"It's basically a renewal process. In November, we have to have leadership in place, otherwise we're folding," said Collett. "That would be tragic. It's a program worth fighting for."
Collett said she has other responsibilities and personal issues that she has to take care of, and will not be able to continue running the local Scout program all by herself.
"I've been with the program for about eight years, and have been chair for the last year and a half. It has become impossible for one person to do this," Collett explained. "We're trying to get interest in the community. Boy Scouts is not only a great activity, it also serves a wonderful purpose in the boys' lives. We need more adult leadership, more adult volunteers; but no one is stepping forward. I can't run it single-handedly, and it's not fair to have one person run it."
Ideally, Collett said, Troop 384 would have another four or five adult leaders to guide activities and mentor the young people in the program.
"You can put on a quality program with four or five people who are consistent," she explained.
Collett came to last week's meeting of the White Salmon City Council to inform the city's political leaders about the need for more adult participation and support for Boy Scouts.
She was not encouraged by the reception she received at the council session.
"I was really surprised that no one on the council asked any questions," said a disappointed Collett. "That was my avenue to help the pack continue; to go to the council meeting and put it out there. I'd hate to see 60 years of Scouting stop because no one will step up or because they didn't know. I don't want the scouting program to die, but I can only do what I can do."
Collett said she didn't know where else to turn.
"Parents should be the ones stepping up first. This touches the lives of people throughout our community," Collett explained. "Boy Scouts teaches desire to be leaders in the community."
Wahkiacus resident Brad Knowland, who also attended last week's City Council meeting, said he has benefited from the Boy Scouts when he was younger.
"The program means a lot to all those who are in it," Knowland said. "It's a tremendous character building program, but we can't do anything without adult help. We have lots of problems getting volunteers for our day camp."
Knowland, who works with Boy Scouts in the Wahkiacus area and organizes the annual Mid-Columbia Scouts Day Camp, said adults need to step forward.
"It's like pulling teeth trying to get volunteers," he explained. "Any volunteers are fantastic resources. One more volunteer can make all the difference."
Collett said she is interested in hearing from any adults in the community who want to volunteer with Boy Scout Troop 384, and invited citizens and/or parents to call her at 493-3948.
Collett pointed out that it didn't matter if the adult leaders were men or women.
"It would be nice for these young men to have a man to look up to, but there is no reason women can't be involved too," she said.