To better prepare for life beyond school, local scout Jamison Oleksy encourages young men and women to enroll in Boy Scouts of America (BSA) as an opportunity to build character and instill values for a lifetime.
Oleksy, 14, said the number of young people enrolling in BSA Scouting has been dropping as a result of various factors. Regardless, three troops remain in the Woodinville area and continue to seek new membership.
“I think boys and girls should enroll for a couple of reasons,” he said. “One, it just gives you something to do and to work towards. Scouting also offers fun activities, like attending summer camps or achieving merit badges. Plus, it’s an opportunity to hang out with your friends.”
Oleksy, who lives in the Cottage Lake area, belongs to Troop 573 and typically meets the group at Cottage Lake Presbyterian Church. Under normal circumstances, he noted, his troop would meet in person, although the COVID-19 restrictions have required them to hold meetings and occasional activities over Zoom.
He said Troop 422, which also contains scouts primarily from Woodinville, usually meets at Wooden Cross Lutheran Church. Troop 909, encompassing youth from Duvall, Carnation, Redmond, Bothell and other nearby communities, normally meets at Timbercrest Middle School.
Within a troop, the patrol method is used to divide the group into smaller teams based on rank. A scout patrol is a team of six to eight members designed to learn skills together, share responsibilities and take on leadership roles.
“Scouting offers invaluable learning and recreational activities, creating many memories and lifelong lessons which help a scout their entire life,” Oleksy said. “I recommend scouting for students of all ages and genders.”
He said scouting is “a great out-of-school activity” for students between 11-17 years old. Those who have completed Cub Scouts can join at age 10, he added; however, finishing Cub Scouts is not required for anyone to join.
According to BSA, scouts may rise through seven ranks: Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life and Eagle. Oleksy said he is currently in the process of earning Life rank.
Oleksy, who attends Timbercrest, describes BSA scouting as “school outside of school.” Rather than studying history and math subjects in class, he said, scouting prepares students for life experiences through the achievement of merit badges.
Merit badges are awards based on the achievement of activities and requirements within an area of study. According to BSA, the purpose of the program is to allow scouts to examine subjects and determine potential career paths or vocations to pursue. Oleksy said some of the badges include communication, cooking, woodwork, sustainability, space exploration, first aid and emergency preparedness, among many more.
BSA programs are divided by age and activity. Oleksy said Cub Scouts is aimed at children in kindergarten through fifth grade, whereas Scouts BSA is open to young people in fifth grade through the end of high school. This traditional scouting experience focuses on service, community engagement and leadership development on the way toward the Eagle Scout rank.
Co-ed Venturing and Sea Scouts are also available for youth between the ages of 14 and 20. With a focus on adventure, leadership, personal growth and service (ALPS), Venturing allows participants to explore their passions, acquire life skills and gain valuable experiences. Sea Scouts practice boating skills through instruction and practice in water safety, while also earning certifications in SCUBA, boating safety, lifesaving, and CPR.
Lastly, the career-oriented Exploring program is aimed at providing 10-20-year-olds with opportunities to network and learn about a wide variety of career fields. To learn more about BSA scouting, visit www.scouting.org.