News: ‘Wolves and Tigers and Bears – Oh My!’ – Scouts conduct mass ‘promotion’ at local camp
Story by Sgt. Maj. Michael Pintagro
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany – The drawdown made no discernible impact on promotion rates within one local organization: around 42 Scouts from Pack 69 embraced new ranks, new roles, and, in many cases, new uniforms during a mass “crossover” ceremony held June 1 at Camp Kachina, located just south of the Vogelweh Military Complex.
The mass “promotion” ceremony marked the culmination of a dynamic and rewarding Scouting year including a broad range of civic, outdoor, handicraft, educational and artistic adventures.
More than 60 parents, sisters and a handful of older brothers – many of them Boy Scouts – joined adult leaders and volunteers for the ceremony. Participants gathered around a ceremonial bonfire for a Scout-sized picnic prior to the promotion. Since the event served as the Scouting year’s final pack meeting, adult leaders also recognized accomplishments, distributed awards and delivered announcements.
The “crossover” ceremony, based loosely on American Indian ritual and folklore, followed the food. Each Scout walked a short path flanked by torches to the official party – consisting of the cubmaster and respective den leaders. Rank and uniform protocol varies to an extent, but most of the Scouts received and donned new neckerchiefs, slides and hats during the ceremony. “WEBLOS” received hiking backpacks to commemorate their advancement into the “Arrow of Light” Den – reserved for second year WEBLOS.
As the last s'mores roasted and light rain scattered the remaining Scouts and parents, pack leaders reflected on an eventful year and looked forward to fresh adventures this summer and beyond.
“This is the culmination of a year’s worth of learning for the Scouts,” said Eric Cooley, Barbarossa District committee member and a key program organizer. “They learn different Scouting skills at different levels. As they progress, they learn more about citizenship and manners as well as the specific activities and skills. The boys love getting the new scarf and reaching the next rank. That really motivates them for the summer and the next year.”
“We had a superb year,” added Maj. Michael J. Swienton, a dedicated “cubmaster” (the senior Pack leader), who devotes duty days to missions at the 21st Theater Sustainment Command operations center and virtually every other waking moment to Scouting activities. “All the boys who attended and stayed with the program ‘graduated’ – even those who departed early generally found a way to graduate. That says a lot about the den leaders and the parents who make this program work.”
“This acknowledges everything they’ve accomplished during the year – the skills, awards, badges – everything they’ve learned,” noted one of those leaders, Xavier Flores of the Tiger Den.
“This demonstrates the Scouts have done all the work necessary to advance to the next rank,” added the Corpus Christi, Texas native, who teaches fourth grade at Vogelweh Elementary School when he’s not herding first-graders during den activities. “This is the beginning of the next part of their Scouting journey. The Tigers are especially excited to move on. It’s new to them – they’ve seen the other boys wearing their various patches and badges, and they’re eager to be part of it.”
Swienton described the concluding year as “high effort, high reward.”
“We had a very active year,” the Thorp, Wisconsin native said. “We averaged a major activity per month, and this year was even more spectacular because of (a camping trip built around the 70th anniversary celebration of) Normandy. I think the boys had a great time, and they learned a great deal.”
With a June 1 date of rank, Scouts plunge immediately into activities commensurate with their new status.
“Our goal this year is to keep things active over the summer,” Swienton said. “We’d like to have at least one pack-level activity per month to keep the momentum going. We realize everyone won’t attend every event, but we want to provide the Scouts, the Families and our new leaders the options to stay active.”
Newly promoted Scouts howled, barked and roared their approval.
“I’m really excited to figure out how to do new things and get more accomplishments,” said 8-year-old Albert Vandeway, a “Wolf” promoted to “Bear” status during the ceremony and son of a warrant officer serving with the 21st TSC’s 16th Sustainment Brigade. “I had a lot of fun as a Wolf, and I’m really pumped up about getting this award and becoming a Bear.”
Vandeway identified the pack camping trip to Normandy as his favorite event of the Scouting season.
“Getting the Normandy patch was the best part,” he said with a smile. “It was pretty fun camping and watching the fireworks show at the end.” The weather proved uncooperative at times, but Scouting ingenuity overcame nature’s challenges. “I had some hand warmers, so I put them in my pockets.”
“I liked all the activities,” added Cameron Kay, a 7-year-old Tiger promoted to Wolf during the ceremony and son of an Air Force noncommissioned officer assigned to the 86th Maintenance Squadron. Aside from cheese curls and cookies, Kay identified the model vehicle derbies as the highlight of the Scouting year. “My favorite event was the Pinewood Derby. I came in third place,” he noted.
Brady Banyi, a 9-year-old member of the WEBLOS Den and son of a noncommissioned officer who serves with the 21st TSC’s 92nd Military Police Company, 18th MP Brigade, named camping and roasting marshmallows as well as the model vehicle derbies his top Scouting activities of the year. Banyi noted several educational achievements as well. “I learned how Boy Scouts can help you when you’re older,” he said. “I also learned that when you’re doing camping you need a first aid kit and flint to make your camp fire.”
Some expressed mixed feelings about the conclusion of the Scouting season.
“I’m sad to see it end,” Kay said. “I love Scouts.”
This work, ‘Wolves and Tigers and Bears – Oh My!’ – Scouts conduct mass ‘promotion’ at local camp, by SGM Michael Pintagro, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.