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.