Baden Powell, the founder of the modern Scouting movement, once said: “Scouting is not a thing that can be taught by wording it in public speeches, nor by defining it in print. Its successful application depends entirely on the grasp of the Scout spirit by both trainer and trainee. What this spirit is can only be understood by outsiders when they see it ruling, as it already does to a vast extent, the thoughts and the actions of each member of our brotherhood.”

Translation: As our neighborhood magazine, we can’t properly define what scouting is for you (although it sounds like equal parts of fun, friendship and skill-building) – you have to experience it for yourself. But we can tell you that there are four Boy Scout troops to choose from in Lake Highlands, and all welcome prospective scouts and their parents to a meeting or on a camping trip.

But don’t delay: If you’re interested in enrolling your son in the program, now is the time to act, before the troops start attending their respective summer camps in June and July.

“Summer camp is very important for the first year of Scouts,” says former Troop 719 scoutmaster Scott Thompson, whose two grown sons, Christopher and Michael, and youngest son, 16-year-old Matthew, have all participated in the Scouts program.

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But first, why would parents want to consider having their son join the Scouts?

“Most boys join Scouts because they think that it is fun, and there is a great deal of Scouting that is fun,” says Max Sanders, Scoutmaster for Troop 473. “But there are much easier ways to have fun than scouting. Being a Scout involves hard work, self-sacrifice and perseverance. Scouting provides a safe framework from which a boy can grow into being a better human being and citizen.”

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Adds Thompson: “The Scouting program gives them something they don’t get elsewhere: leadership, citizenship and fitness.”

The bulk of the Scouting program involves campouts with parents. Often, a trip incorporates an educational field trip-type outing. In November, former-Troop 719 scout and astronaut James Reilly invited the boys to the NASA Space Center in Houston.

And even the camping trips don’t involve just pitching tents and roasting marshmallows. Troops 473 and 435 both go to Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico, where the boys get a chance to participate in black powder rifle shooting, panning for gold, blacksmithing, rock climbing, fly fishing, archeology and conservation projects. Troop 890 camps in Arkansas and near Boerne, and also offers adventure treks in New Mexico, the Rockies, the Grand Canyon and sailing in the British Virgin Islands.

As for choosing one troop over another, many parents often pick the troop that meets closest to their house. But there are things that set one troop apart from the next, such as where the camping destinations are and what the troop’s sponsoring organization is, so it’s best to do some research to find the right troop for you and your son.

For information about any of Lake Highlands Boy Scout Troops, contact:

  • Troop 435: Scoutmasters Scott Sprier at 214-341-0926 or Tom Coleman at 214-341-7075. Troop 435 meets at Merriman Park Elementary, 7101 Winedale, every Monday at 7:30 p.m.
  • Troop 473: Scoutmaster Max Sanders at scoutmaster@troop473.org or visit the troop’s Web site at www.troop473.org. Troop 473 meets during the school year at Moss Haven Elementary, 9209 Moss Farm, every Monday at 7 p.m.
  • Troop 719: Scoutmasters Mike Fitzgerald at 972-437-6671 or Mike O’Brien at 214-340-7030. Troop 719 meets at St. Patrick School’s Scout Room, at the southwest corner of Kingsley and Ferndale streets, the first and third Mondays of the month at 7:30 p.m.
  • Troop 890: Scoutmaster James Shepherd at 214-343-9725 or scoutmaster@troop890.org, or visit the troop’s Web site at www.troop890.org. Troop 890 meets at Lake Highlands United Methodist Church, 9015 Plano, every Monday at 7:30 p.m.