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Scouting is alive and well in the region

Boy Scouts of America Susquehanna Council provides area youth with programs and activities that help build character and instill in them values for becoming good citizens.

The organization serves Lycoming, Northumberland, Clinton, Union and Snyder counties and is supported by numerous volunteers and the communities it serves.

Susquehanna Council Scout Executive Dennis Dugan recently touted the positive aspects of the organization.

He said the Susquehanna Council oversees the various distinct levels of scouting — Scouts BSA, Cub Scouts, Exploring, and Venturing.

Cub Scouts involve children from ages 5 to 11 and Scouts BSA for youths up to age 18.

Exploring and Venturing offer challenging programs and skills and ages 14 to 21.

Boy Scouts have a proud history in the local area, having started in Williamsport in 1910, the same year of its origins.

Dugan noted that times have changed since those early years, with more activities than ever competing for youths and their time.

“September is traditionally recruitment month,” he said.

Toward that end, efforts are made to visit schools.

Further efforts include bringing kids to Camp Karoondinha in Millmont to participate in full-day activities and a glimpse into what scouting offers.

“Traditionally, we have 60 kids show up for camp,” Dugan said.

Leaders of the youth organization understand that scouting is a year-around program that crosses over to other activities and interests, he noted.

Along with finding adult volunteers, it’s a challenge that leadership has tried to meet through the years.

The modern age has called for changing programs and goals.

For example, 20 percent of Boy Scout merit badges didn’t exist 20 years ago.

“We’ve embraced digital media,” Dugan said.

Skills emphasizing science and technology have replaced traditional ones such as mapping and compass reading.

“Now, it’s GPS,” he added.

A big relatively recent change fully embraced by the Susquehanna Council is the inclusion of girls in the scouting programs traditionally open only to boys.

Overall, the Susquehanna Council consists of 90 scouting units comprised of 36 Cub Scout packs, 47 Scouts BSA troops, four Venturing Crews and three Explorer posts.

Seven full-time staff and three support staff make up its administrative body.

Dugan noted that meeting places for the different scouting groups continue to be churches and other venues throughout the communities.

That community cooperation is key to the organization’s survival and success.

Underprivileged kids are able to attend scout camps through donations and the cooperation of community groups.

Fundraisers involving scouts help keep the organization and its activities operating.

“We sell popcorn, hold pancake breakfasts and spaghetti dinners,” Dugan said.

Scouts also sell pies and tree to raise money.

“There is actually a salesmanship and entrepreneurship merit badge,” he said.

Dugan describes scouting as a fun time with a purpose.

And, he’s positive of the organization’s future.

He feels having the entire family involved in the program is important.

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