Scouting for members: Low number of Boy Scouts in Mohave County causes leaders to focus on increasing awareness
KINGMAN – The Boy Scouts have long worked to instill a sense of right and wrong, respect and discipline into the scouts within the program. But as participation in the program has started to wane, Scout leaders and representatives are looking to inform the community as to the program’s benefits.
Del Hanks, district chairman for Mohave County Scouts, said the first step in recruiting participants is to bring on additional activities to help with outreach and day–to–day activities.
“More volunteers is what we need,” Hanks said. “We have people doing their job, and the job of the people they should be recruiting and helping out with activities.”
Currently the county boasts some 1,200 Boy Scouts, but Hanks said the goal is to increase that number to about 5,000. Scouts are broken into packs when younger, and later into patrols once they’ve reached the next age group. Hanks said knowledge is passed from older to younger scouts which is a learning experience for both.
“One of the dynamics of the scouting program is we try within the program (for) older boys (to) teach younger boys a skill,” Hanks said. “Or you teach older boys and then they teach a couple more boys how to tie a knot, or whatever the skill is. We feel you really know something when you can turn around and teach it to somebody else right.”
However, recruitment starts at the top with parents and leaders.
James and Mandi Hales are parents of a Scout, Kobe, who was recently awarded the rank of Eagle Scout. Eagle Scout is the highest rank achievable in the Scouts.
“We feel it’s a great program and would encourage all young men to get involved,” the Hales said. “Scouting teaches a lot of great values that are getting overlooked in the world today.”
Hanks said these days it’s time that works against the program, as both parents are frequently working along with balancing extracurricular activities and social lives. He said combating the issue of time can be addressed almost in the same way that the Scouts operate – by working together.
“Bring the friends that your boys play with,” Hanks said. “Your boy is going to be like the friends he makes. If you can influence the values of that peer group, your boy will come out alright.”
Kobe Hales has been involved with the Scouts for five years. He is now a sophomore at Lee Williams High School, and has achieved the highest Scout rank possible. He got involved through his church and was helped along the way by his grandpa, whom Kobe called a “huge motivator.” Kobe decided to stick with the program because he enjoys outdoor activities like hiking and camping in addition to learning new skills.
“Scouting helps youth develop a love for our country and understand the importance of service, giving of your time to help others, leadership, becoming a better citizen and overall being a better person,” Kobe said.
Recently 14 Mohave County scouts were awarded the rank of Eagle Scout, which is acquired by identifying and addressing a problem within the community.
“My project was painting the entryways at the Hualapai Elementary School,” Kobe said. “I wanted to help my community. Schools should be a nice, clean place where kids can go and feel comfortable in their environment.”
Kobe’s project reflects the values like citizenship, character and self-reliance that Hanks said the Scouts teach their members.
“Earning my Eagle was a lot of hard work, but I feel I have learned a lot of valuable lessons and I will be better prepared for my future,” Kobe said.
Kobe isn’t the only one who is proud of his accomplishment. That group includes his parents and those who have helped him along the way such as his Troop, Scout leaders, Principal Jerry Arave, Eve Cardiff, and his friends and family.
“We are so proud of him!” the Hales said. “In our eyes this is a huge accomplishment and something we have always encouraged him to be involved in. It’s been fun and also challenging for him as he has worked on each merit badge, but it has taught him that you must work hard to obtain things that are worthwhile.”