Pride washes over the faces of Kaimana Grady and Kohlton Sanchez as they talk about the activities they’ve completed and badges they’ve earned as Cub Scouts. Grady points to the badge he acquired racing a wooden car he crafted, and Sanchez can’t resist talking about the small sailboat he made and raced at a regatta.
Both of the elementary school students are well on their way to becoming Boy Scouts with Troop 148, where they will continue to take part in enriching activities. They also will advance their skills and values, building character and learning citizenship — two of the many principles that the Kaua‘i, Aloha Council, Boy Scouts of America (BSA), instills in each of its members around the island.
“It’s about teaching boys skills that they can use as they grow and become young men,” explains Devi Berg, part-time district executive for Kaua‘i BSA.
The prestigious program has been operating in Hawai‘i since 1910, and some 700 boys on the island are affiliated with it. Not only does the program include Cub Scouts (first- to fifth-graders) and Boy Scouts (ages 11-18), but it also encompasses We’ll Be Loyal Scouts, made up of fourth- and fifth-graders transitioning to a troop; Venturers, a co-ed group that takes part in adventures (ages 14-20); Explorers, who learn about career opportunities (ages 14-20); and Sea Scouts, who maintain and operate vessels (ages 14-20).
“It’s just a really fun thing to do. You learn stuff not just to learn, but so that you can lead,” says Mike Perry, a Boy Scout and senior patrol leader for Troop 148.
Perry also is part of the Order of the Arrow, which may sound like a secret club, but is actually the BSA’s National Honor Society, where members are voted in by their peers because of their outstanding demonstration of what it means to be a Boy Scout.
The highest rank for any Boy Scout to achieve, however, is Eagle Scout. Bryce Yoshida, who will be a sophomore at Island School, is one Scout well on his way toward acquiring that rank.
“It’s a very prestigious award,” he says.
To achieve such an honor, 21 merit badges must be earned and goals like executing and completing a community service project must be accomplished. The time and effort are worth it to Yoshida, who is thinking of his future and knows that most employers acknowledge the esteemed reputation of Eagle Scouts.
“They know what you’ve been through,” he says. “You’ve done all the service and practical skills and they know how much time it takes.”
Lyle Tabata, Scoutmaster for Troop 148 and Kaua‘i BSA’s aquatics program director, couldn’t agree anymore.
“They all end up doing well,” says Tabata, whose two adult sons, Mikio and Michael, are Eagle Scouts.
Moreover, he says the growth that occurs within the boys mentally and physically from the time they join as Cub Scouts, where they are primarily completing activities with their parents, to working on their own and becoming more independent, is remarkable.
“They leave as adults,” he says. More than 100 merit badges may be earned through BSA in all kinds of subjects like science and sports.
Youngsters begin as Tiger Cubs (first grade) and must successfully complete activities including outdoor skills, and arts and crafts, before moving on to the next levels. As they move toward the ultimate goal of Eagle Scout, the projects become more complex and in-depth.
“Every level, there’s an opportunity for the boy to excel and earn and advance,” says Tabata.
Even adult volunteers earn “knots” for accomplishments like being a den leader for the Cub Scouts or offering a training course. Tabata recently earned the William D. Boyce Award, for example, by initiating a new Venture group on Kaua‘i.
Though Keiki learn all kinds of practical tasks such as saving money and survival skills (thus the motto “Be Prepared”), they also have fun while camping on the beach or taking part in festivities like Makahiki at the Annual Garden Fair. Some of the older members may even elect to expand their horizons and join BSA groups such as Sea Scouts.
Chandler Martiney, who started as a Cub Scout and has since advanced to Boy Scouts, where he is also a Venturer and part of the Order of the Arrow, is boatswain for Sea Scout’s westside Ship 12, Kia‘iokekai. As a Sea Scout, he’s involved in a number of additional activities, including traveling around the islands on a four-week cruise last summer.
“Being cooped up on a small boat with a bunch of people, you have to learn to get along,” he says regarding the many skills he’s acquired on the water.
Boys learn a number of abilities as part of Kaua‘i BSA and all are invited to participate in any one of the 16 units located around the island from Hanalei to Kekaha, no matter what their various skill levels. They may even gain the opportunity to engage in off-island activities like the National Jamboree, happening this month in West Virginia, where Boy Scouts take part in pursuits such as whitewater rafting and mountain biking.
“Our biggest goal is trying to show the community that Scouting is alive and well on Kaua‘i,” says Berg.
Visit scoutinghawaii.org or the Kaua‘i, Aloha Council, BSA Facebook page for more information.