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Participation in scouting began a path to success

For the Monitor
Published: 7/28/2020 8:15:52 AM

On an ordinary night last August, 13-year-old Samuel D’Urso was at home in Bedford with his family. His mother was in the kitchen washing dishes and his younger brother was in the living room enjoying tortilla chips with homemade salsa. From another room, Sam suddenly heard loud hacking sounds, followed by a muffled yelp. He rushed in to find his brother choking on his food, struggling for breath. Immediately analyzing the situation, Sam moved in and began applying the Heimlich maneuver, successfully clearing his brother’s airway, and helping his family avoid what could have been a devastating tragedy.

Sam is a Scout in Troop 135 in Manchester who learned the Heimlich maneuver as part of his first aid training in Scouts. A member of his school’s football, lacrosse and robotics teams, Sam recently received a rarely bestowed national heroism award from the Boy Scouts of America for his actions that saved his brother’s life.

As it has for hundreds of thousands of other youngsters, Scouting has set this exceptional young man on a path for success, as it did for me. As a graduate of West Point, a Green Beret, a community leader and an attorney, I can look back and say without hesitation that my formative years as a Scout, culminating in becoming an Eagle Scout, have made me the man I am today. I am grateful to Scouting for all that it has done for me. That is why I recently agreed to serve a two-year term as president of the Daniel Webster Council, which represents Scouting in New Hampshire.

Since its formation in 1929, the Daniel Webster Council has been one of New Hampshire’s most prominent non-profit organizations and today is made up of over 8500 youth participants and thousands of Scout families and adult volunteers. Scouts can experience true outdoor experiences and the growth and fun that comes with it at either the 3,500-acre Griswold Scout Reservation in Gilmanton or Camp Carpenter in Manchester, in addition to regular troop activities in New Hampshire’s great outdoors. Scouts also can work on well over 100 merit badges, both traditional badges such as camping, first aid and hiking as well as more recent additions such as entrepreneurship, robotics and sustainability.

Scouts are expected to perform service hours as part of their rank advancement and commitment to giving back to the communities they live in, and they work regularly at learning and embracing a core set of values that prepare them to be good community citizens. Remarkable Americans who were Scouts include Hank Aaron, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Gerald Ford, Harrison Ford, Bill Gates, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., Michael Jordan, Chris Pratt, and Steven Spielberg among many others.

Between the COVID-19 pandemic and the corresponding economic downturn, this has been a difficult year for all of us, including scouts. Necessary and prudent social distancing has forced Scouts to avoid traditional group settings such as troop meetings and summer camps. But true to their motto “Be Prepared,” Scouts have adapted to the new realities of 2020 and continue to meet virtually, earn merit badges, and make a difference in their communities. As just one example, a few months ago as hospitals in New Hampshire were experiencing real strain as a result of the pandemic, the Daniel Webster Council in partnership with the N.H. Hospital Association initiated the “Scouting Supports Hospitals” program, where scouts from all over New Hampshire prepared and delivered dozens of care packages containing thousands of items to support our heroic front line healthcare professionals in their moment of need.

It is my great honor to serve as the new president of the Daniel Webster Council, to support and promote its core mission of preparing young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law. Scouting’s timeless values as embodied in the Scout Law – to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent – gave these leaders and so many more a head start in life, just as they are for Sam D’Urso and others today. There’s never been a better time to be a Scout. Learn more at beascout.org

(Jim Steiner is president of the Daniel Webster Council, Scouting USA. He is the owner of Steiner Law Office, PLLC, in Bow with over 30 years of experience as a litigator and business attorney and a lengthy record of civic service including prior membership on the New Hampshire State Board of Education, the Governor’s Commission on Disabilities, prior service as Chair, Board of Trustees, for the Leadership New Hampshire program, and as a past board member for both the American Red Cross and Concord YMCA.)


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