Birthday bash marks Scouting anniversary

Courtesy of 21st Theater Sustainment Command
Photo by Sgt. Maj. Michael PintagroTiger Cub Jayden Moffit receives his stripes from Achley Lyons during the Blue and Gold banquet held Feb. 22 at the Vogelweh Elementary School cafeteria.
Photo by Sgt. Maj. Michael Pintagro
Tiger Cub Jayden Moffit receives his stripes from Achley Lyons during the Blue and Gold banquet held Feb. 22 at the Vogelweh Elementary School cafeteria.

The 2015 edition of the annual Blue and Gold (the Cub Scout colors) banquet at Vogelweh Elementary School commemorated the 105th anniversary of the founding of the Boy Scouts of America and the Cub Scouts program’s 85th birthday, Feb. 22.

The cafeteria transformed into a banquet hall and parents transformed into artists, auctioneers and chefs. More than 100 Cub Scouts came to celebrate along with a few special guests, adult volunteers and family members from Pack 69.

The banquet also served as a bear of a pack meeting as leaders and parents recognized the Scouts’ formal accession to their current rank and achievements during the first six months of the Scouting year. Parents marked their Scouts’ accomplishments and commitment with face paints and, for the artistically inclined, paw prints. For WEBELOS, the banquet marked the culmination of a five-year Scouting journey alongside “Akela,” a personification of the Scouts’ mentors based on a character in Rudyard Kipling’s, “The Jungle Book.”

The pack powwow included the typical mix of ceremonial, educational and lighthearted activities. Scouts designed unique table decorations representing their dens. Some Scouts and families even brought along building blocks displays and stuffed animals, including a gigantic baby shark serving as an aquatic den mascot. Organizers also auctioned a variety of sweets and gift baskets to raise money for the pack with Scouts taking a keen interest in the bidding on cakes, pastries, chocolates, outdoor gear and toys.

A WEBELOS den leader and designer of a squad car that competed in last month’s Pinewood Derby issued “speeding citations” to Scouts in recognition of the swiftness of their wooden vehicles during the race. In a nod to recent carnival activities, several Scouts and sisters donned paper masks as the banquet drew to a close.

Hunter Marks, assistant district commissioner of the Barbarossa District and the pack’s higher Scouting headquarters, participated in the event, offering words of wisdom and presiding over the Arrow of Light Ceremony, which embodies Cub Scouting’s highest honor and marks the culmination of WEBELOS’ tenure as Cub Scouts.

“This celebration re-energizes the boys, the parents and the adult volunteers to continue on to the end of the Cub Scout year and also encourages everyone to remain actively involved in the Boy Scouts of America next year,” Marks said. “Because February or March is also a common time for the oldest Cub Scouts (fifth-graders or second-year WEBELOS) to move on to the Boy Scout program, the Blue and Gold banquet is often a farewell to these boys as they journey on to becoming young men in their quest to reach the Eagle Scout summit. I commend all of the boys in Pack 69 on their accomplishments, encourage them to always do your best, and challenge them to always journey on through the adventure of life.”

Local leaders expressed similar enthusiasm for the event.

“What a great way to continue a legacy of a great program — 105 years of building characters and character in our boys,” said Maj. Michael J. Swienton, 21st Theater Sustainment Command, senior pack leader. “The founders of this movement couldn’t have imagined how it would take off. I think it’s pretty awesome.

“Doing the event as Americans overseas, maybe we can appreciate even more the expanse of our council and the scope of the Scouting program across Europe,” he continued. “Many different countries participate in Scouting — and all from a pretty similar base philosophy and action. This was a great event and a big success. It was appropriate to see rays of sunshine literally shining through the cafeteria windows during the event.”

The banquet held special meaning for Michael Stricker, leader of the senior Scouters participating in their last event with Pack 69.

“It was nice to have so many of the kids stick together for at least a couple of years,” Stricker said. “It allowed them to build really strong relationships and good friendships. I got a little teary-eyed as we went through the narrative in the ceremony and I thought of everything we’ve been through over the last four years.

“We’ve experienced a lot of great things and seen a lot of places in Europe, but the main thing is the people,” Stricker continued. “That’s one great thing about the Scouting program overseas; it brings the community together.”

WEBELOS also reflected on their tenure as Cub Scouts and their future as Boy Scouts.

“I learned a lot of things in Cub Scouts,” said Emory Michael Watson, 9. “The most valuable thing was how to save people’s lives — how to do the Heimlich maneuver, stop bleeding and frost bite, and treat bee stings. I feel happy to be a Scout, because I can do things like campouts and those kinds of outdoor activities.”

Other WEBELOS emphasized the unique opportunities they enjoyed in Europe.

“It was great to participate in all the activities, especially the trips to Normandy and Brussels and all the travel,” said Mark Brandon, 10, son of a 21st TSC exercise planner. “We traveled to so many places for the historical trails. It was also great to make a lot of friends and participate in all the pack events. The Cub-Annapolis was the best, and we were the winners this year.”

Brandon expressed optimistic but reasonable expectations for his Boy Scout career.
“I hope we can have more fun and learn more things,” he said.

Younger Scouts looked forward to more pack adventures, picnics and races.

“My favorite part is traveling,” said Tiger Cub Michael Ray Vandeway, 7. “I like to travel on the Scouting trips, and plus my family likes to travel a lot. My other favorite event is the Raingutter Regatta because I got second place.”

“My favorite thing about Scouting is we have so much fun and do so many things,” said William Pickel, 8, of the Wolf Den. “I hope Cub Scouts never ends, because it’s so fun being a Cub Scout.”