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Recently, The Catholic Mirror featured a story on Catholic scouting. Several people were interviewed. Many offered important and inspiring comments. Ed Paprocki of St.Mary Parish in Longmeadow took the time to respond to several questions about his experiences with scouting. He has been involved since he was a boy. Enjoy his thoughts below.

Please explain your role in scouting.

I have been in Scouting since I was 11, on and off, but for the last 20 odd years back in the on mode.  I am the “Charter Organization Representative” (COR) for Troop 90, Longmeadow.  Troop 90 is sponsored by St. Mary’s R.C. Church of Longmeadow.  As the COR, I am the liaison between the Troop and St. Mary’s.  In this role, I work to keep the Parish informed if there are things that may affect the Troop-Church relations, coordinate with our Pastor the Troop’s enrollment, and see the Troop maintains itself as an extension of the Parish in their activities.  In addition, I am an Assistant Scoutmaster, supporting the Troop activities and the boy’s advancement in Scouting while trying to bring new ideas to the boys for activities and learning experiences.  When I am not involved with the Troop, I support the Scout Council’s Scout Camp, Horace A. Moses Scout Reservation in Russell, with maintenance activities.  When time permits, I still support the Theodore Roosevelt Council of Long Island, New York which is my “home Council” at their camp, Onteora Scout Reservation in Livingston Manor, New York.  Lastly, I was asked to be on the National Council’s “National Camp Assessment Program” team for the Northeast region.  In this roll, myself and a host of Scouters visit other Scout Camps in the Northeast to see they are conducting good Scouting programs and the camp are being kept up to the Nation Council’s standards.

JAMBOREE CATHOLIC SCOUTS

What has it meant to be able to do something like this with your son?

When I was a Scout and a young adult leader, I completely enjoyed the Scouting Program.  I did hiking, camping, cooking, community service projects, white water canoeing, two weeks of summer camping with my Troop, taught boys much younger than myself scouting and life skills at the Troop level and as a Camp Staff member for 7 summers.  More importantly, I was doing things and learning things that could not be done in a typical school setting.  Many of these activities were outdoor activities.  It was simply a lot of fun.

When Robert was old enough to join Scouts (he first entered Cub Scouts at the age of 7), I asked him if he was interested in it.  From the stories I told, he wanted to try it out to see what it was about.  I became reactivated in Scouts at that time to be a part of his experience and to return to the fun of Scouting I had enjoyed when I was his age.  Together we completed Cub Scouts, and he continued with the Boys Scouts at the age of 11.  Here is where I got involved with Troop 90.  I assisted when asked for help and I watched him grow in his abilities and learning experience with the Troop, much the way I did in my young Scouting days.  He enjoyed doing the activities and learning different things.

One of the best trips we did as a Troop, and father and son, as a 10 days super trip with the Troop to South Dakota.  We did a lot exploring the sights of the Black Hills and learned a lot of the history of the area.  We, as a Troop, we able to do the Flag Retirement at Mount Rushmore when we were there – that was an amazing experience, especially when the MC asked for members of the audience who were either active or retired military to join on stage… there almost wasn’t any room for all of us.

NEW YORK SCOUTS

Please comment on the value of Catholic scouting.

Scouting is by in large a community of something bigger than most people can imagine.  As a matter of fact, it is a huge community – World Wide.  I was traveling in China on business and was in Hong Kong.  I saw a young boy in a Boy Scout uniform walking with his grandfather (the man was older than I).  I stopped in front of him, and gave him the Boy Scout salute.  He smiled back at me and saluted me.  Although we didn’t say a word to each other, we knew we experienced many of the same things through Scouting.  A common bond tied through a simple gesture.

In kind of the same way, a Catholic Parish (or any Church or Congregation community) is a large community of something bigger.  In Scouting, the first two things a boy is asked to learn is the Scout Oath and the Scout Law.

The Scout Oath is: “On my honor, I will do my best, to do my duty to God and my Country. To help other people at all times.  To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.”

The Scout Law is: “A Scout is, Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent.”

The oath is just that, it’s a promise to be a good citizen by helping those in need; to be loyal to God first and to the laws of the land; and to strive to be a good person.  These are the teachings our Church, and many other Churches, work to impress us with too.  Helping other at all time – be charitable and being kind to all those around us… these are parallel objectives, to guide our youth onto a track of being a good person, a good citizen, a follower of the faith.

In a similar way, the Scout Law has the same message as our Ten Commandments (Lord Baden Powell, the founder of the Boy Scout program, wanted to call them the Scout Commandments except there were 12 of them and the name was already taken… figured he better not try to improve on a good thing or upset the “Him”).  You can take each point of the Scout Law and equate it to the Ten Commandments. The Commandments are present in many faith followings, some vary but the core is there. Scouting strives to reinforce this core.

Is Scouting Catholic Centric, inviting only Catholic boys or an organization looking to convert people to the Catholic faith, NO. ABSOLUTLT NOT!  It is an organization that enhances the teachings of Faith almost indirectly.  Be kind, not just to your friends, but to all you meet; put on a happy face whenever you can, God loves you and wants you to be happy; be reverent, and each in their own fashion, for there is a greater power than you and that power has given you so many wondrous things to see, smell, touch, taste, and do.

ARIZONA BOY SCOUTS

Feel free to add any comments or thoughts.

Scouting has connected me to many of my closest friends.  Some of them we connected instantly, while others became friends slowly.  They all are important to me and I hope I am to them.  There are several people left an impression on me.  One friend of mine, Tony, was a very passionate person for helping others.  Sometimes, his passion was near blinding.  He always saw, or felt, there was a way to help others, either through direct service or finding ways to get them items to help those in need.  Tony would somehow find things that many people would consider waste or surplus, and turn it into gold for others.  One time he was looking at a farmer’s field after Halloween and thought, “… boy, there are a lot of pumpkins out there. Wonder what becomes of them.”  Tony finds the owner of the field, strikes up a conversation with him finding out the pumpkins were going to be turned into the soil as the farmer prepared the land for winter.  Tony arranged for the farmer to give him a pick-up truck load of these pumpkins.  Tony takes them to a local Soup Kitchen, and the director was overwhelmed with the receipt of the pumpkins.  The Kitchen created all kinds of dishes for their clients using these “unwanted pumpkins” feeding many for almost nothing.  He was a young Knight of Columbus becoming a member shortly after turning 18.  He tried to get me to join the Knights while I was in college.  I politely turned him down as my studies were first at the time, and I did not know where I would be finding a job.  Little did I know he left his mark on me, and some 30 years later I joined the Knights and now I’m a Fourth Degree Knight as well.  Tony developed colon cancer a few years ago. He fought the demon’s disease hard, he amazed his doctors with his willingness to go the long road. All the time, Tony felt Good was wanting him to do just one more thing as part of God’s plan. While in Nursing Homes, Tony went about his days helping staff, talking with others affected by cancer, consoling loved ones when someone passed.  His work came to an end about two years ago. His brother said, “Tony was at peace, having completing his assigned tasks. He was ready to meet God.”.  Tony is one friend I will never forget, and he as I are Boy Scouts.

Another amazing person that I met was a young priest while I was working as Summer Camp Staff member, something I did for 7 summers.  Father Bob was a real nice guy and someone you could talk to about many things.  He also played a mean banjo.  Fr. Bob really didn’t want to be at our Camp, but he agreed to support the Bishop for a few weeks until the Bishop could assign someone else to fill the role as Camp Catholic Chaplin.  After less than two weeks, Fr. Bob contacted his Bishop and asked him to stop looking for a replacement, he wanted to stay the entire summer at Onteora as the camp’s Catholic chaplain.  Father Bob went on to be our Catholic chaplain for more than 7 summers.  He and the Protestant chaplain, Reverend Ben, made up “The God Squad”… two people that were just amazing individuals and a great team working together and supporting the Boy Scouts.  They made an impression on me that has stuck to this day, even though at the time, it didn’t seem that it did.

As time moved on, Fr. Bob was asked to be the Catholic chaplain for scouting in the Theodore Roosevelt Council – a very big thing then and even today.  He later was appointed to other larger Scouting chaplain roles, including being appointed World Chaplain to Catholic Scouting by the Holy See for a four year term and was re-appointed in 2004 .  Additionally, his priestly responsibilities grew – becoming a pastor, later elevated to Monsignor, worked for the Dioceses of Rockville Centre (Long Island, NY), and he’s now known as Bishop Robert Guglielmone, the 13th Bishop of the Dioceses of Charleston, South Carolina (you can see his biography athttps://sccatholic.org/bishop ). I am happy to know that Scouting is a big part of this wonderful man’s life, and it may be a big reason for his elevation to Bishop…

My reason for bringing this up is being a part of the Boy Scouts of America one will meet all different people during one’s time as a Scout and even more as a Scouter.  These people may not change you immediately, but they leave an impression on you that will last for a life time.

Photos courtesy of Catholic News Service

 

 

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