Thursday, January 28, 2016

Meet Our New Council President

On Tuesday, January 26th, 2016 the Mason-Dixon Council's Executive Board elected a new Council President to serve for the next two years. Colonel Laura Marfat (retired) was elected unanimously. We asked her to share a little about herself and her hopes for the next two years.

Q: Can you give us a little background on your professional career? 

A: I retired from the U.S. Army as a Colonel in the spring of 2014 after serving 32 years as an intelligence officer.  I am now in my second year of developing and teaching a new Homeland Security program at South Hagerstown High School. 

Q: How did you become involved in the Boy Scouts?  

A: Scouting was a big part of my high school experience and one of the reasons I joined the military. I belonged to Explorer Post 17 in Williamsport, which was a co-ed high-adventure Scouting group similar to what Venturing is now.  Post 17 lived up to its high-adventure name, and most of us came out of that experience knowing we could do a lot more than we ever thought we could.  

Q: How has the Scouting program impacted you and your family?  

A: My husband Ed and I have two boys, now in their mid-late 20's, who are both Eagle Scouts. Our oldest, Mike, is a lieutenant in the Army and our youngest, Bret, is a lawyer in Virginia.  Both of them credit Scouting with setting them on their course and opening doors.  But I think the biggest impact was on my husband, who wasn't a Scout as a youth but served as a leader when our boys were going through the ranks and well beyond, including being Scout Master of Troop 62.  Now he's happiest when he's sleeping in a tent in the snow or hiking the Appalachian Trail. 

Q: Why do you think Scouting is so important for our community?  

A: Young people are faced with challenges right here in our community that previous generations never had to worry about. Scouting is all about building character and confidence so that kids have the tools to make good choices.  We need Scouting even more now than we did in the past.  Also, the Eagle projects and community service activities help our community in a very real way.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish by the end of your two year term as Council President?

A: Let's build on the momentum we have now and revolutionize our recruiting!  Scouting has something for every young person and their family, and we need to get that word out.   Kids have a lot of options for clubs and organizations these days, but how many of them offer activities like mountain climbing, white water rafting, target shooting, rocket launching, working with innovative technology, and one of the most beautiful Scout camps in the nation?  

Q: What do you think is our greatest strength as a Council?

A: We couldn't ask for a better group of professionals, volunteers and Scouts at all levels.  We only need to look at the improvements at Camp Sinoquipe, the stand-up of the STEM Program, and the multiple Eagle Scout projects over the last few years to see the vision and dedication of our members, and the assistance we're getting from the greater community.  

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Let There be Light

Have you ever given the light bulb much thought? Today the (Light Bulb) is so much a part of our everyday living that it really does not seem all that important.  But, had you lived back in the late 1800’s the (Light Bulb) was life changing. It changed both the social and economic structure of society.

The (Light Bulb) allowed activities to extend into the night. Manufacturing Industries could work longer hours. Other businesses could operate all night long if they wanted to. Longer working hours increased production which in turn increased profits.
The way people viewed the night changed the view of society living as well. No longer were you confined to darkness after the sun went down. The (Light Bulb) allowed cities and people in general to stay active into the night. Society became more interactive with each because of the (Light Bulb). Light bulbs can also be used outside to light the streets, which meant crime-rates were lowered and the streets became safer at night

The implementation of the (Light Bulb) led to the need for a widespread electrical-distribution system.  The (Light Bulb) initiated a whole array of new developments. Refrigerators, washing machines, vacuums, electric irons all became common. Life became very convenient, not only to those living in the city, but to rural America as well.
The (Light Bulb) is resistant to wind, rain and is by far less of a fire hazard.

Who would have thought that in the year 2014 that a different type of (Light Bulb) would have been the reason for three Physicist’s to share a Nobel Prize. Again the (Light Bulb) is revolutionizing the world. Ever heard of the LED light? It stands for Light Emitting Diode.

The LED bulb is Eco-friendly in that they do not emit poisonous gas and they do not contain harmful chemicals that may pollute the environment.

The LED is cost effective as they are long lasting, durable and save energy as well as money.

The LED is small, compact and can be utilized in so many devices, from the smallest calculator to the largest Television screen. They consume very little energy and do not produce heat.

The Nobel Prize in Physics for 2014 was awarded jointly to Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura "for the invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes which has enabled bright and energy-saving white light sources”.

It is possible that Cub Scout today could one day win a Nobel Prize for a Scientific Invention, Idea or device that could revolutionize the world. Help us motivate the next generation of Scientists, Innovators, Teachers or Leaders. Help STEM grow within the Mason-Dixon Council. It could be our future.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Why Do You Serve?

The time I have spent as the Order of the Arrow Lodge Adviser has been truly rewarding for me.  I began this position 5 months ago not knowing exactly what service would be expected of me.  There have been many highlights in that time; of course the greatest highlight has been working with the phenomenal Scouts and Scouters who are members of the Guneukitschik Lodge.  Recently I had the privilege of attending the National Lodge Advising Training Seminar (NLATS).  This was an incredibly educational and beneficial experience for me and one of the questions from that training that I have spent some time thinking about is, “Why do you serve?”  This is a question relevant to all of us who serve in the Order as well as those who serve Scouting in other ways, so I thought I would use this blog as a way of sharing my answer and hopefully to encourage others to share as well in the comments below.

To boil down my reason for service in the Order into a single statement is because I truly believe in the purpose of the Order of the Arrow.  This purpose consists of four parts and each of these parts explain why I love the Order and Scouting and why I continue to serve in any way I can.  

The first part of that purpose is the recognition of deserving Scouts and Scouters.  Being the national honor society of Scouting means that I have the privilege of surrounding myself with some of the best people that the Mason-Dixon Council has to offer.  As a youth this is what drew me into the Order, as I was advancing in both rank and age there were fewer things my troop had to offer me but the Lodge had older youth, new adventures and leadership opportunities for me.  Guneukitschik continues to offer these opportunities to our youth as well as new opportunities for those of us who are no longer youth.  Any service with this group of individuals is rewarding simply because I value the relationships that I have already built and will continue to build with the Lodge members.

The second part of the purpose is about the promotion of camping and I have been a life-long camper who wants to share this love with others.  Some of the best experiences in my life have happened at Scout camps.  Working at Cub day camps and summer camp as a youth instilled the Scouting spirit in me.  Additionally, having had the chance to attend National Jamborees, Philmont, NJLIC (now called NAYLE) as well as many other local campouts has truly made me the self-reliant and confident person I am today.  Those experiences as a youth were crucial to my development and I feel that my service now is repaying a debt to all those who enabled me to have these experiences when they influenced me the most. 
Developing leaders is the third part of the purpose of the Order of the Arrow and education is something I strongly believe in and have dedicated my life to pursuing.  My experiences learning about leadership as a Scout have helped me tremendously in all parts of my life.  Every day I use some of the leadership skills and techniques I have acquired from Scouting in my work life as well as my leadership roles in Scouting.  One of my other current roles is serving on the staff of the National Youth Leadership Training (NYLT) which allows me to see Arrowmen and others using and developing those leadership skills.  Seeing these skills in action during an intensive camping experience brings joy to me every year.  In addition to this joy, serving in this way actually has the additional benefit of allowing me to work with well-trained leaders in the future.  Seeing youth use those leadership skills acquired through Scouting is one of the greatest joys any scouter can experience.

The final part of the purpose is so well written that I will quote it directly.  "Crystallize the Scout habit of helpfulness into a life purpose of leadership in cheerful service to others."  This is fundamental to my beliefs about what not only scouting is about, but what life is about.  The ideas of helpfulness and cheerful service are what have enabled this organization to stand the test of time.  If I want to call myself a Scout, I have to be helpful; if I want to call myself an Arrowman, I have to provide cheerful service.  Seeing the impacts of my service on our camp, our community and our society is its own reward.

I try to live up to the four parts I have outlined above.  Scouting and the Order of the Arrow have given so much to me during all phases of my life.  Even after many years of service I still feel indebted to the Scouting organization for what it has done for me.  My little bits of service are my small way of paying back and trying to give other scouts similar opportunities and experiences to what I have had.

Please use the comments section below to let us know “Why Do You Serve?”

John Hamman
Order of the Arrow Lodge Adviser

Saturday, March 15, 2014

We’re a Scouting Family…or Who is the Eagle more important to now?

Quinn Alec Hoover

Growing up, literally, at Camp Sinoquipe, I spent my first five summers as a child there.  I lived in Wherret Lodge with my family since my father was the Handicraft Director. We were a Scouting family, my mom was a Den Mother for ALL four of her sons and three of us earned the rank of Eagle. My oldest brother actually passed away after having an aneurism at Sinoquipe, so he never made it that far. His memorial plaque can be seen on the wall of the Handicraft Lodge.  Between all of the Scouters in my family, we attended five different Jamborees, held numerous positions in the OA Lodge, were members of the Ceremony and Dance teams, honored as Vigil members, camp staff … you name it, there was a Hoover in it during the ‘70s and ‘80s. My father passed away at a Scout function in Winchester in 1981. Like I said, we are a Scouting family.  

When it came time for me to earn my Eagle Scout, I was tired. I was burned out. I did all of the above and still participated in sports and other activities at school. I really didn’t care if I finished Eagle Scout or not. It wasn’t important to me.  I didn’t see a need to finish it. Who cared … really? Well, MANY people cared! When I turned 17 in 1986, several men, fatherly types, big brotherly types, all stepped in.  They coached, coaxed and literally pushed me to the finish line. I turned in my paper work in March 3 … four days later, I turned 18. Relief! Success! Pride! I was overwhelmed at what I had done. I was overwhelmed at how happy I had made all those around me. Oh, how my mother beamed with pride as she pinned her third Eagle. Apparently it was as important to them as it was to me. Looking back, I will call it my single greatest accomplishment as a youth. Above all the academic awards, sports victories, team captain, varsity teams … nothing compares to my EAGLE. 

Fast forward about 10 years, I have two sons. I see other parents running here and there dragging their kids to three different sports EVERY SEASON. I told my boys, you can participate 2 activities, SCOUTS … and whatever else you choose. Remember, we’re a Scouting family. I served as Cub Scout Den Leader, Committee Member, Cub Master—two or three times each— supporting the units my sons were involved in at the time. As my oldest crossed over to Boy Scouts, I became active with the troop while maintaining my position with the Cub Pack of my youngest son. My oldest made his way through the ranks, joined the Potamac Dancers, became a member of the OA, and attended the Jamboree. He was well on his way to a life of Scouting. He became active with school functions, church functions and the busy social life of a teenager. He, too, started to burn out. I could see it, so we pushed and pushed. He plugged along and I tried to point out the importance of him to finish. There were scholarships available to Eagle Scouts, it would look good on college entrance forms and future job resumes, the military would promote him … the reasons were endless and it was important to a lot of people, and it should have been to him. Unfortunately, youth cannot see the fruit of this labor until they are much older and able to look back on the successes that stemmed from earning this award.

Eventually, many people offered to help finish his project. Many people offered money, time, materials … anything we needed to finish his project. The project needed very little done to be complete, yet the phone calls and messages continued. Support to finish the project, help with paper work, whatever it would take to get it done, there was someone willing to do the work. We had so much support for my son to earn his Eagle. It was that important to that many other people. You see, my son, Quinn Alec Hoover, passed away at the age of 17 on March 18, 2012.  His project sat dormant on the garage floor until June of that year. Literally, 24 long deck screws and three signatures kept my son from earning his Eagle while he was alive. With one month until his birthday, I relived my own Eagle: "Several men, fatherly types, big brotherly types all stepped in.  They coached, coaxed and literally pushed me to the finish line."  The parts were hung, the signatures attained, the papers filed. Nothing left but to wait for National to approve the first posthumous Eagle Scout Award for the Mason-Dixon Council. My son earned his Eagle because it was that important to everyone else. Even as I write this, I am pushing along yet another Scout to earn his Eagle. It’s just that important to me. Hopefully like so many before him, he will look back and see it as the single most important accomplishment of his youth. Like I said, we are STILL a Scouting family.  

By Tom Hoover

Saturday, March 1, 2014

What Does Sinoquipe Mean to Me by Jack Rhodes

What does Sinoquipe mean to me?

When asked this question my immediate reaction was how much time do you have to hear my story? There are so many fond memories and emotions that I cannot possibly share them all.

Shortly after Patty, CJ and I moved to Fulton County in 1988 to begin my position at JLG industries, we took a drive to explore the beautiful area we now call home. We found ourselves at the northern end of the county. We stopped at an old abandoned 1800’s farmhouse with an old Chevy truck on a property in need of a lot of TLC.   My comment at the time was “I could live here they have a wood stove. Patty’s response was “no way could I ever live here.” 

Within a few months I replied to an ad in the local paper for a Camp Ranger position with the Boy Scouts of America. During the interview process I was told no decision would be made until candidates had an opportunity to visit the camp and assess the living accommodations. Low and behold the address led us to the old abandoned farm house with the old Chevy truck in the driveway. This time with key in hand we toured our future home. There was a lot of family discussion/opposition on how could we possibly live in this house with a 6 year old and newborn!

CJ and I decided with a lot  of work, new paint, new carpet, a thorough cleaning and persistent pleading we could persuade Patty into this new adventure for our family. I began my career in Scouting in December 1989.

Sinoquipe had been without a Ranger for over a year. Volunteers had been the only work force within that time. There was a lot to learn and a lot to be done.

It did not take long to witness the Scouting spirit. We were so blessed to meet such kind and dedicated Scouters, who we consider some of our most treasured friends today.  One of the most important things that had an impact on me throughout my Scouting career is the genuine caring and kindness that is exemplified in the Scouting movement. This remains a beacon of hope for me when I look to the future of our youth.

Numerous times I have been fortunate to witness God’s hand at work at Sinoquipe. Early in my time at Sinoquipe, I would scratch my head and wonder how could this impossible situation or issue be resolved? Now, I bow my head and give thanks for God’s divine intervention. 

Sinoquipe is more than just a place; it is a spirit that lives within anyone who chooses to adopt the spirit. From the wildlife that thrives here, to the healthy waterways, plant species and forest land, we are fortunate to deliver a Scouting program on this beautiful parcel of land. It is imperative we as a Council protect and preserve this property for future generations. I am and will remain dedicated to the preservation of our beloved camp.

One of the most gratifying  moments for me is when a young man who is now a father knocks on my door with his son and asks if I remember him and proceeds to share with me how his experiences at  camp had an impact on his life. I have learned the most valuable thing any of us can do is to guide a young man along the path to a moral, ethical and spiritual life. In turn, they will pass that on and our legacy will continue.

To sum up “what Sinoquipe means to me?” Sinoquipe provides a place to appreciate and enjoy the splendor of nature while learning life skills. My family has been blessed to be raised at Sinoquipe and call it home. 

When growing up my parents taught us you should not love inanimate objects. I think it is safe to say, I love Sinoquipe, as it is a living entity.

Thanks to all the great Scouting folks I have met along the way in my journey through life at Sinoquipe!

God Bless each and every one of you,
Ranger Jack

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The More Things Change, the More Some Things Remain the Same.

A Scout is Reverent by Norman Rockwell
Scouting has a continuing commitment to encourage moral, ethical, and spiritual growth. In the Scout Oath, “duty to God” reminds everyone that a Scout is reverent. That will always remain a core value and an immutable tenet of the Boy Scouts of America.

The Scout Oath begins with “duty to God” and the Scout Law ends with a Scout's obligation to be Reverent. 

This has been and still is the foundation for Scouts to be “Reverent.”

Although the Boy Scouts of America is a nonsectarian organization advocating a devout belief in a deity through the Scout Oath and Law, Article IX, Section 1, Clause 1 in the Charter and Bylaws states in part, “The Boy Scouts of America maintains that no boy can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God,” in essence being “Reverent.”

The BSA expects its members to accept the religious principles as stated in the bylaws, the Scout Oath and Law, and the application for membership.

With that said, what does it really means for a Scout to be Reverent?

FOR THE SCOUT: Being Reverent means the Scout should faithfully follow the religious duties, and responsibilities instructed by his parents or guardian and/or his religious institution. Because Scouts are associated with people of different faiths, it is also imperative that Scouts recognize the religious beliefs of other Scouts and respect those beliefs. While the BSA does not define what constitutes belief in God or the practice of religion, nor require membership in a religious organization or association for enrollment in the Scout movement it does prefer, and strongly encourages, membership and participation in the religious programs and activities of a church, synagogue, or other religious association. The BSA believes in religious freedom, and expects Scouts to respect others whose practicing religion may differ from theirs. Scouting embraces the right of all to worship God in their own way and encourages each individual Scout to be obligated to their faith.  

FOR THE SCOUT LEADER: Being Reverent means the Scout leaders, without being sectarian, should be accommodating in their religious influence, encouraging each Scout to be openly faithful with their own particular religious obligations. Leaders should model a standard where the Scout can, without distraction, live out their lives according to the ideas of their faith and work towards earning the duty to God religious emblem of their faith while in the Scout Program.

Scout outings and other activities that span weekends should include an up front announced opportunity for Scouts to meet their religious obligations. If services for members of each faith will not be available, the BSA recommends an interfaith service.

As you consider such a service, keep in mind that some religions have specific requirements that cannot be fulfilled through an interfaith service, and other arrangements might be necessary for Scouts of those faiths. Any scripture readings, prayers, hymns, and other parts of an interfaith service must be considerate of the beliefs of all those present.

No matter what the religious faith of the Scout may be, this fundamental need of the Scout should be kept before them. The Boy Scouts of America, therefore, recognizes the religious element in the training of the member, but is absolutely nonsectarian in its attitude towards that religious training. Although the Boy Scouts of America maintains that no member can grow into the best kind of citizenship without recognizing an obligation to God its policy is that the home and the religious organization with which the Scout is connected shall give definite attention to religious life.

Statements by Lord Baden-Powell, Founder of Scouting:
"There is no religious "side" of the movement. The whole of it is based on religion, that is, on the realization and service of God." 

"Let us, therefore, in training our Scouts, keep the higher aims in the forefront, not let ourselves get too absorbed in the steps. Don't let the technical outweigh the moral. Field efficiency, back woodsmanship, camping, hiking, Good Turns, jamboree comradeship are all means, not the end. The end is CHARACTER with a purpose."

Pastor Scott Johnston
Camp Sinoquipe Chaplain