For this week’s episode of Community Conversations, our host ST Billingsley chatted with Ben Hazekamp, the District Director of the Boy Scouts in Prince William County, about the organization, and what they do in the community.
Q: Tell me about the different programs the Boy Scouts have here in Prince William.
A: Right now in the Prince William area we offer four different unique programs for scouting – our two traditional programs the Cub Scouts and the Boy Scouts – are both [geared] towards young men ages first grade through fifth grade for the Cub Scouts. And for the Boy Scout program it’s 11 years old or fifth grade – halfway through fifth grade – up and through high school until they hit 18.
Those programs are traditional programs are really aimed at building leadership, and development, and building character in our young men through a series of activities [like] camping – [and] a lot of things you think about when you think of Scouting. So it’s not just camping, it’s STEM, its leadership development – it’s a lot of different aspects that help grow those programs.
And then our Venturing programs kind of build off of that, which is co-ed for 14 to 21 year olds, so a little bit older group, but the idea is they do more fun stuff. And so those programs offer great opportunities – from scuba diving, to going to some of our national high adventure bases, like Philmont out in New Mexico, or the summit right here in West Virginia not too far away. [The program] also goes [for] more [activities] based around building hobbies or developing friendships with people that[are into] the same thing – so shooting sports, or STEM, or pretty much any activity you can think of – that’s the development of these programs.
And our final program, and our [newest] program, is actually our Exploring Posts and our Exploring programs, [which are] all about career based development and it’s the same group as Venturing – 14 to 21 year olds – but it’s all tied around a unique career. So we have several unique careers here in the community, including some STEM related jobs, with some of our bigger STEM companies in the area, as well as police and we look at expanding into medical. [We’re hoping to] work with some hospitals and fire departments in the area as well as some other opportunities that we see coming forward
Q: So now the Explorers and Adventuring – that’s not just for boys?
A: Nope you’re correct it’s a co-ed program and quite honestly most of our programs are very coed in nature. We have just as many girls [in] our program here in the county as we do guys in our Venturing and Exploring programs. And one of the reasons why we sometimes see that – why we teach that program coed compared to some of our other programs – is really that [these] kids have reached a point of development in their life where if they’re 14, 15, 16 to 20 years old…it’s a good place for these two groups to come together.
When you get to younger ages – early Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts – there there’s not always that parity – males and females develop a little differently – and so that is why we see having those two distinct programs, and that’s how all our programs run.
Q: Some of the activities or some of the [service projects] you’re involved with, from the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts – there’s a flag program, you have the Scouting for Food, what kind of programs like that do you have for the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts?
A: As you mentioned some service projects [tie to something] that’s really core to all of our programs – [and that is] service because we value that local patriotism, and local services [are] so important to the program. It’s the development of character, it’s realizing that you’re part of a bigger community than just your family, or your Boy Scout troop, or the school you attend. It’s about something bigger than you, [and we want to be part of] building that bigger relationship.
So we do offer a flag retirement program on both the East and West sides of the county through our partnerships with the Department of Waste Management – so we have a great relationship with all those organizations. We also do other service projects. We’re looking at…doing a partnership with several other groups in the community to do ‘Day of Service’ to the community including developing more trails around the new high school that’s being built in honor of Senator [Chuck] Colgan. We’re doing a lot of things [like that] in our program, as well as our fun activities like our day camps, our Camporees, our Pinewood Derbies. If you were a kid and remember doing the Pinewood Derby, these were all great things to do. So those are some of the activities we have coming up, and were looking forward to all the fun and learning opportunities that Scouting offers.
Q: With all of the different activities that the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts are involved with, obviously you don’t do it all by yourself. What kind of organizations help with the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts?
A: I’m one of two actually paid professionals here in Prince William County, but everything else [in] ‘Scouting’ that is done here in the county is all volunteer-led and volunteer operated, and executed, so I’m just here to help organize the volunteers, and once they are ready to go, they take it over.
We have some great volunteers in the community, but all of our troops are all done locally by local adult leaders. It’s either parents or Scouting group leaders that have been involved in Scouting for a lot of generations, so there is a lot of generations of knowledge and a wealth of information about the Scouting program here. So any program your youth participates in – your son or daughter participates in – you know they’re getting a great program, because of the amount of experience that we have from the county.
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