I've been scouts for a number of years. I started in Cubs when I was 9 with Pack 44 in Stamford, Connecticut. I spent the next two years progressing up through Webelos finally graduating to Boy Scouts at 11. I joined Troop 44 in the fall of 1971. It was a small troop with only about 20 boys if memory serves me correctly. Within a couple of months, the Scoutmaster notified the troop committee that he needed to step down. The troop was in imminent danger of folding without a scoutmaster. When no one stepped forward to fill the vacancy, my father took us all by surprise by volunteering. This was a big step for someone who had never been in scouts himself. Another father, Mr. Bartolo, then stepped forward as Assistant Scoutmaster. For the next 6 years these two men shaped my opinion of scouting and helped lay the path for my own scouting career,
I progressed through the ranks attaining Eagle Scout a few weeks prior to my 13th birthday October '73. After that I added two palms to my Eagle. I held the positions of Patrol Leader of the Raccoon patrol and then became part of the troop's Leadership Corps as an Assistant Senior Partol Leader. Our troop by this time had expanded to over 40 boys. My father and Mr. B with the help of a very active Committee had provided a great program for us that kept us interested and involved. Somewhere along my last year with the troop, my father and Mr. B exchanged positions. All of our adult leaders ensured that we boys worked and earned our ranks. It was one of the many lessons that stuck with me.
I slowed down in my final year in scouts now that I was 17 and wanting to spend time with high school friends. Only needed three more merit badges for my third palm but I just got lazy. It's one of the few things I've come to regret about my early years in scouts. After I graduated high school in 1978, I joined the Air Force and moved on to life as an adult. I was stationed in northern Maine at Loring AFB. While there, I noticed that there was a fairly strong scouting program on base. Soon the "bug" bit me and I helped to establish Troop 192 on base. I became Scoutmaster and soon learned how much work was really involved. We had a small troop of about 10 boys. These boys worked hard and we had a good time together camping out in snowbanks and tromping through the woods of Maine. I turned the position over after about 18 months when life started to get in the way.
About one year later, I saw an add in our base paper asking for a volunteer to become Scoutmaster for the other scout troop on base. Once again the bug bit and I went and became Scoutmaster of Troop 195. I spent the next 20 months helping to rebuild a troop that had gone from one of the best in the North Star District to one of the worst with an ever dwindling number of boys. With the help of Jerry Collins, newly arrived from Germany and working on his Woodbadge ticket, we weeded out our trouble makers and set the troop on its uphill climb. This culminated with our Troop placing First at the district's Spring Camporee in 1986. I received orders of my own that summer to Germany. Just before I left, I was awarded my Scoutmaster's Key.
Once in Germany, after my wife and I had settled down, I went in search of Troop 232 on Ramstein Air Base. This was the troop that Jerry Collins had come from and had recommended. I joined in early 1987 as a Committee Member responsible for guiding the troop's Life scouts on to Eagle. I spent the next 8 years with Troop 232 in a role that more often as not, was Assitant Scoutmaster. The troop was very active and I had the opportunity to camp in many different countries. We hiked the hills of the Czech Republic and the cliffs of Normandy Beach as well as hiking around the historic trails of Heidelberg, Bastogne and Berlin to camping at the International Scout Camp at Karderstaag, Switzerland. It was a memorable time watching over a dozen of our boys become Eagles, but the most memorable time of all came early in my tour.
On a visit to another base farther north, I ran into a hulking youth with red hair who took one look at me and said "Mr. Devine! I never thought I'd see you again". At that point I recognized this six foot plus teenager as the short pudgy boy with a crew cut that had started in my first troop at Loring and then transferred to Troop 195 when I had taken over. Jim Wiess now was 17 and invited me to his Eagle ceremony that was scheduled in two weeks. Though I had been through many Eagle ceremonies before, there's nothing like watching a boy who joined your troop fresh out of Webeloes go from an unsure and uncoordinated kid to the self-confident youth wearing scouting's highest achievement.
Before I finally left Germany, I had earned my Woodbadge beads and my Scouter's Key. I ended up here in Illinois and again took time to settle in with my family. This time it was about two years before I finally decided to venture out into scouting again. I served as the Unit Commissioner for Troop 15 and Pack 21 on Scott AFB. I've finally earned both my Commissioner's Arrowhead as well as the Commissioner's Key during this time. In addition to this, I stayed involved with my son as he ventures forth in Cub Scouts starting in Tigers. Now several years later my son has moved up to Boy Scouts and has achieved his 2nd Class rank. The unfortunate problem is that during this time I had to take a job in Bahrain which forced me to move to the other side of the world. I do my best to keep involved with his progress, encouraging him where I can. I was able to spend time with him at his first summer camp in June 2003 during my vacation. Because of my location, I've had to take a scouting sabatical due to the lack of time with my new job. Hopefully once I complete my time here, I can once again get back into active scouting.
My son and myself - 2001