2012-02-23 / Family

Boy Scout troop turns 40

By Stephanie Sumell
Special to the Acorn

It didn’t take long for Greg Metzgus to learn what it meant to be an Eagle Scout.

It was 1966, the country was at war in Vietnam, and Metzgus had just entered the United States Marine Corps.

On one of the first days of boot camp, a drill instructor addressed a roomful of prospective Marines.

“Out of 2,000 people he said he wanted all the Eagle Scouts to come forward,” Metzgus recalled. “About 75 of us came forward and (the Marine) said, ‘Okay, you are platoon leaders, everybody else fall in behind them.’”

The military saw the value in the Boy Scouts organization, Metzgus said.

“They knew nothing about these people but they knew if a kid had gotten an Eagle badge, the highest rank attainable in Boy Scouts, he’d gone through some leadership training.”

Metzgus was one of five former Scoutmasters who spoke at the 40th anniversary celebration for Newbury Park Troop 754 on Feb 12.

Past and present Scouts and Scoutmasters joined with parents and Boy Scout supporters at Cypress Elementary School in Newbury Park to honor one another at the dinner ceremony.

In the four decades since his experience in boot camp, the Boy Scout organization is still producing young men who are preparing for leadership, said Metzgus, whose two sons were also members of Troop 754.

“When a kid’s playing football or baseball, they can be team captain, but all the rest of the kids are just team members,” said the Newbury Park resident. “In Boy Scouts, we change our leadership roles so all the boys get to experi- ence leadership.”

Don Cutler, the troop’s Scoutmaster from 2003 to 2007, helped organize the Sunday ceremony.

“It (was) a recognition of the people who’ve been supporting (Troop 754) as well as the individual Scouters who’ve given so much of their time,” Cutler said.

Ventura County Supervisor Linda Parks attended the event. She’s the mother of Eagle Scouts Dan, 23, and Roger, 21. Parks said Boy Scouts is a wholesome program that helps young men build confidence and develop important life skills.

“When I was worried about Roger going to LAX, I remember him telling me, ‘Mom, I’m an Eagle Scout with an iPhone. You have no worries,’” Parks said with a laugh.

As a county official, Parks routinely attends Eagle Scout ceremonies for boys within Troop 754, which has produced more than 100 Eagle Scouts.

“It’s an honor to be able to (learn about) their projects and to give them kudos for their good work,” said Parks, who was presented with a Troop Appreciation Award. “They’ll end up being leaders in our community.”

Thousand Oaks Elks Lodge 2447, Troop 754’s official sponsor, provided the barbecue.

“The Elks are a communityoriented, charitable, patriotic organization and we recognize that Boy Scouts exemplify those fundamentals,” said Jerry Serota, the Elks’ historian and photographer.

Serota, a Thousand Oaks resident, said the Elks help support Troop 754 as much as they can.

“One hand washes the other,” he said. “The kids do something that we really like and we help them with financing that particular thing.”

Leaders training leaders

Current Troop 754 member Rhys Davis, a seventh-grader at Sequoia Middle School, said being a Boy Scout is “awesome.”

“It’s taught me about leadership and holding yourself on your own two feet,” said the 13-year-old. “It teaches young boys how to become young men the proper way.”

What is Rhys’ favorite part about being a Scout?

“All the places that I get to go and all the activities I get to do,” he said.

James Davis, Rhys’s father, earned his Eagle Scout badge in 1987 and serves as assistant Scoutmaster to Troop 754.

He said the program has evolved, but its core stays the same.

“It’s just such a good experience,” said Davis, a scientist with Amgen. “You do so much more than you think that you can do.

“Last summer, we went to the High Sierras for a backpacking trip,” Davis continued. “(The boys) latched together some logs and paddled around this two-mile lake. It was cool to be out in the middle of nowhere and watch my son do the same things I was doing when I was his age.”

Metzgus called Boy Scouts “a dynamic program” that will continue to benefit the community for years to come.

He said, “Anyone can be a follower; anyone can do what they’re told. The world needs leaders.”

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