Eagle Scout Alex Flores, 16, with JBER Troop 504, rappels down a cliff face at Camp Gorsuch Boy Scout camp on June 23. Boy Scout troops 109 and 504 from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson were camping for the week and performing tasks to earn scouting badges at the camp near Mirror Lake.
U.S. Air Force photo by Justin Connaher/JBER PA
"You get to do a lot stuff you couldn't normally do like rock climbing and learning to actually shoot a rifle, shotgun and black-powder muzzle loaders," said Trentin Wermers, of Boy Scout Troop 190. "My favorite thing is being able to make campfires."
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson has not one but two Boy Scout troops, and June 20 through 25 was spent at Camp Gorsuch near Chugiak, kayaking and rock-climbing and generally doing the things people associate with Boy Scouts.
Maj. Raul Rovira, with the Army Medical Command, is the leader of Troop 504, the JBER-R group.
"This is a good way to get the boys off the couch, and off their computer games there's more to life than that," Rovira said. "I think most of these boys play computer games, but they also look forward to going out camping and doing other things. It brings more balance to their lives instead of just being stuck inside a building in front of a monitor."
Both the military and scouting place an emphasis on leadership, making it a natural fit.
Eagle Scout Joshua Van Der Martin has been involved in scouting for about six years.
"There is one main leadership project for Eagle Scout, but on the way, there are a couple smaller leadership projects you have to do," Van Der Martin said. "The main leadership project, you lead it you don't do it. You plan it out, and direct other scouts how to do it.
"At camp, I help the younger scouts get higher rank and merit badges... leadership is the main element of being an Eagle Scout trying to lead the younger boys up to where we are," Van Der Martin said.
Senior Master Sgt. Don Lester is the scoutmaster for Troop 190, and also serves as the superintendent for the 962nd Airborne Air Control Squadron.
"Camp is a great way for the boys to see Alaska," Lester said. "In Alaska you're in a paradise. You're able to go out and see different things. We've got the snow in the winter time, and in the summer time you've got this beautiful weather, where they can go hiking and it's just a great time. It allows the boys to come up and see some leadership, and to build on that leadership they may need throughout their lives."
Both troops plan to do recruiting in the near future, but in the meantime, those interested in JBER scouting can contact Lester at email@example.com or Rovira at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story originally appeared in the Arctic Warrior newspaper.
This article published in The Alaska Star on Wednesday, July 6, 2011.