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About a dozen Webelos Scouts — typically fifth-graders — gathered after dark at Camp Kiwanis on the banks of Pat Mayse Lake last weekend to observe the boys’ passage from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts.
The scouts came from six troops from the Paris-based NeTseO Trails Council — made up of scouting organizations throughout Northeast Texas and Southeast Oklahoma.
The “Bridging Ceremony” symbolizes a shift from mostly adult leadership in Cub Scouts to the imparting of leadership by the boys themselves in Boy Scouts.
Friday night’s half-hour ceremony was in darkness, lit only by a full moon peeking through the clouds and by torches carried by Scouts dressed as tribal Indian leaders.
Dozens of people — family and friends — sat in the sand on lawn chairs and applauded the young scouts making the transition.
At the end of the ceremony, the Cub Scout neckerchief was taken from each boy and replaced by the Boy Scout neckerchief.
Mike Taylor of Paris, scoutmaster of Troop 2, whose members conducted the ceremony, opened the ceremony with prayer and with remarks to explain what was to happen.
“We seek to instill virtuous characteristics in each of these young men by teaching them to live the Scout Oath and the Scout Law in their everyday lives,” he said.
Adult Scout leaders “walk through this experience with them, teaching them about hiking and camping and canoeing and all the things that go with it — mountain climbing, rock climbing, and so many other things I can’t even start to name them all,” he said.
“It’s a tremendous experience, and this is a new adventure they’re going into tonight.”
A principal purpose of Scouting is to guide young men “to become fit, not just physically but mentally, emotionally, socially and most of all spiritually,” Taylor said, “and to become “effective, working citizens” in their community, their nation, and their world.
Hopefully, one day some of the pre-teens transitioning from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts will achieve the ultimate Scouting goal of becoming Eagle Scouts, Taylor said.
That’s an accomplishment that marks the individual as a leader, he said.
“It represents an accomplishment that will take them through life and open unbelievable opportunities for them. I cannot tell you how many businessmen I talk to, when they do interviews and see Eagle Scout on the resume, that candidate goes to the very top of the list,” Taylor said.
By Charles Richards, eParisExtra