By Sue Wambolt, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – Thomas Bodden has been involved in Scouting for 12 years. He, like his brother, father and grandfather before him, is an Eagle Scout who is devoted to living out the vision and mission of the Boy Scouts.
Bodden, 18, is currently a junior assistant Scoutmaster with Shrewsbury Troop 158, following the guidance of the Scoutmaster in providing support and supervision to the 30 12- to 17-year-old boys who are members of the troop.
According to Bodden, being a Boy Scout has changed his life.
“Scouting has taught me public speaking and the ability to use the tools around me to solve problems,” he shared. “Because of Scouting I have been able to meet many good people and have learned strong moral and ethical values. I am prepared for anything that happens in life.”
There are more than 130 badges that Scouts can earn pertaining to different skills and activities. Bodden has earned 27 of them plus the Purple Panda, which is the World Conservation Award. He was also elected into the Order of the Arrow, which is Scouting’s honor society.
According to Bodden, Boy Scout troops have changed over the years. What was originally a Scout-led group has recently transitioned into an adult-led group and much has been lost along the way.
“The benefit of Scout-led is that it gives pre-teen, teen and young adult boys the ability to test and exhibit leadership skills and qualities,” he explained. “It also teaches the boys to use their troop for support and work as a team, which in many cases entails working in a very diverse environment. In Scout-led troops, the Scouts learn to be self-sufficient, learn time management, and they have to learn to be accountable for their own actions.”
Bodden and other leaders from Troop 158 spent a weekend discussing the Patrol Leader Handbook and Senior Patrol Leader Handbook which lay out the mission of Lord Baden-Powell, Scouting’s founder. It confirmed, for them, the desire to run a Scout-led troop. Other leaders of Troop 158 include Mike Harrington (Scoutmaster), Dave Williams (charter representative), Mark Dubois (committee chair), Shelly Furuness (advancement chair) and Steve Freeman (treasurer).
In a recent issue of “Scouting Magazine,” Bodden sings the praises of Scout-led troops.
“If the troop’s not boy-led, the leaders are essentially a damper on this experience. They’re not giving the kids full opportunity that Baden-Powell intended,” he was quoted as saying.
Bodden plans to continue his involvement in Scouting as he gets older by helping out with trips when he can. He hopes to inspire young men to be self-sufficient, master time management, and learn to be accountable for their actions.