Lead Eagle

By PHILIP CASE State Journal Columnist Published:

Not unlike the cry of the politicians we're certain to hear during this campaign year, Bobby Dean is hoping for "four more years!" If he can have them, Dean will have 50 years of service with Troop 281 of the Boy Scouts of America - 35 of them as Scoutmaster.

Dean, who'll be 80 on Sunday, has had two strokes and shoulder replacement surgery so his chances to make his "four more years" aren't up to the electorate but rather his health.

"I can't hike with the boys the way I used to," he said last week, "so I had to give up being Scoutmaster. But I can still do most everything else."

One of the things Dean does very well is guide young men to become Eagle Scouts, the highest rank in the program. In his years with Troop 281 he's had 116 "go through," as he says, and complete the program. He had five get their Eagle badges recently and two more will likely achieve the rank in the fall.

"It's a very demanding program," he said, "and it culminates with the boy developing and completing a program that's of benefit to others."

A visit to the Boy Scout Web site reveals that the project must be helpful to any "religious institution, school, or community," benefiting an organization other than scouting.

"There are a lot of other requirements the boys must meet along the way, culminating in the service project," Dean said. "Usually it takes (a boy) about four years to complete the Eagle program."

To have led 116 young men through this program is quite an accomplishment. Dean said that only about 4 percent of the 4 million or so boys in scouting achieve the rank of Eagle.

But even if they don't aspire to the highest level, Dean sees great benefit in Boy Scouts, structured for boys 10.5-18.

For more on this story, see the latest State Journal.

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