This article is one in a series of stories focusing on local agencies that receive support from the United Way of Chaves County, which is currently conducting its annual fundraising campaign.
“On my honor, I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.”
Sound familiar? It’s the Boy Scout Oath.
Boy Scouts of America has taught young people outdoor skills and instilled them with character for more than 100 years in Roswell. The organization has been a United Way agency for about half of that time.
The Conquistador Council of Boy Scouts of America, which includes Chaves County troops, receives 13 percent of its annual funding from United Way, according to Keith Alder, CEO of the council.
The organization puts that funding toward paying administrative staff and organizing activities such as camping.
“The Conquistador Council appreciates the partnership in funding different programs,” said Alder.
This past year, funding helped the council send 33 of its 1,200 young members to the National Jamboree summer camp in West Virginia, where the boys participated in outdoor activities and learned leadership skills. About half of the Scouts who went came from the county.
Scouting is not all about camping — it is also about giving back to the community. Among roughly 300 Chaves County Scouts, several have overseen community service activities as part of their Eagle Scout service projects.
In 2013, local projects included refinishing the parking lot of Assurance Home, which cares for homeless youth in Roswell. Another project involved improving the entrance to the city zoo by providing landscaping services.
“I think that the boys that stick with the program, they actually learn some valuable skills that they can take into adulthood,” said Roswell lawyer and County Commissioner Greg Nibert.
Nibert was referring to Scouts he works with as assistant Scout master for Roswell’s Troop 2, founded in 1916 and sponsored by First United Methodist Church. He commented that Boy Scouts isn’t just for young men.
In addition to Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts programs, Boy Scouts offers co-ed programs for youth aged 14 to 20.
One program is called Venturing, where members participate in outdoor activities such as repelling off cliffs and white water rafting.
Another is the Explorer program, where male and female Scouts are exposed to possible future careers. In Chaves County, Roswell Police Department sponsors an Explorer post, where scouts learn about opportunities in law enforcement through ride-alongs and service projects. The post has seven Scouts.
To support Boy Scouts, you can donate to United Way and earmark your gift for the Conquistador Council of Boy Scouts of America.
You also can donate directly to the Rio Hondo District of the organization, or to a troop.
“Scouting would not exist but for the support of the community,” said Nibert.
Nibert said that donations to troops help fund activities and scholarships for Scouts from low-income families.
Donations need not come in the form of money—supplies and time are valued commodities.
Nibert mentioned that his troop is looking for someone who can take the Scouts backpacking. Two adult supervisors are required for such trips, and currently only one is available. Nibert also mentioned that mentors are needed to help Scouts earn merit badges.
As for supplies, Nibert said that most troops can use another sleeping bag or tent for camping trips.
“There’s an awful lot that people can do and it would be very much appreciated,” he said.