Boy Scouts striving to keep teenagers in uniform

By Eric Butler

Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of United Way agency profiles scheduled for publication each Sunday, Wednesday and Friday through Nov. 21.

Like most other youth-oriented associations, the Boy Scouts of America has a problem keeping kids in the group when their teenage years roll around. But Clovis’ Ryan Waters says he plans on sticking with scouting straight through high school.
Then again, the 11-year-old Zia Elementary student is practically a poster boy for what the Boy Scouts are all about.
“It’s fun. We get to go on a lot of campouts. We’ll also get to go on a snow-skiing trip, river-rafting trips and a rappelling trip,” he said.
Ryan was the top popcorn salesman last year for the El Lano Grande District, which encompasses three Eastern New Mexico counties.
“I’m going to try to go as far as I can,” said Ryan, who is in Troop 411. “Try to go to Eagle Scout and top-rank.”
The Boy Scouts’ programs are divided into three main categories: 1) Cub Scouts, for boys 7 to 11; 2) Boy Scouts proper, for those 11 to 18; and 3) the Venturers, a co-ed program for teens 14 to 20.
The Venturers were created about 10 years ago.
District executive Scott Kilian expects that Ryan Waters, who has already gathered five merit badges — basketry, Indian lore, fire safety, fishing and environmental science — in his first year as a Boy Scout, will be able to reach his goals within scouting.
“He’s one of these kids who’s going to be an Eagle Scout — it’s just a matter of time,” Kilian said. “He likes the program and he doesn’t seem to be effected yet, at the age he’s at, by peer pressure.”
One potential problem is wearing a uniform to scouting functions as the boys reach their teen years. Kilian said every group has possible sources for embarrassment and that preparing boys to get by in life, in general, has always been one of the Boy Scouts’ primary goals.
To that, Ryan’ parents would agree.
“The things that he is getting out of Scouts will take him up to adulthood,” said Maria Waters, Ryan’s mom. “They went camping a couple of weeks ago and they did first aid. He also had to learn to use a compass; get lost in the woods and find his way back.
“Plus, the boys have learned to trust each other as a team,” she said. “They have to bond together as a group and I think that’s important.”

Boy Scouts of America
Mission: To prepare young people to make ethical choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout oath and law.
El Llano Grande District: Includes Curry, Roosevelt and DeBaca Counties.
Phone: 742-0284
Boys in El Llano Grande District programs: 510
Volunteers: 244
Annual budget (southeast New Mexico Conquistador Council): $650,000
Amount contributed by Curry County United Way: approximately $25,000