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