I was invited to an ice cream social last week. You may be confused that ice cream and toppings can be the key refreshment for a teen party. No sodas, no booze, no cigarettes, no drugs, no “I hate America” rowdiness. I was surrounded by Boy Scouts and their families. What a night it was!


Our “glitzy media” reported last week that teenagers are using heroin in great numbers and they are questioning the existence of God. Not where I was sitting. The teens and “tweens” scooped ice cream with me and our khaki Scout uniforms were “stylish.” 


Would you believe the invocation and benediction were offered by Roman Catholic Deacon (Eagle Scout) Jeff Sutterman in the name of “Our Saviour Jesus Christ!” Gasp! There was no shame and no one else thought anything awry.


We repeated the Scout Oath, too: “On my honor I will do my best: To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law….’


Michael Roth was the excuse for the ice cream social. He became the 146th Eagle Scout for Troop 799, which was started in 1956 at Fort Detrick by Dr. Harold Neufeld.  Its home today is Brook Hill United Methodist Church in Yellow Springs, a couple miles northwest.


If you inquire around town you will come upon any number of successful businessmen who claim kinship to Troop 799, which once had so many members it had to take camping trips on successive weekends. Its leaders were a Who’s Who of Fort Detrick and Frederick.


I have had many learning experiences around camp fires with Troop 799 since Col Robert M. Shaw, then commander of Fort Detrick, sent me to the old NCO Club to help the troop recruit young men. I remain registered as an assistant scoutmaster, an honor of some magnitude.


Participating as an adult leader in the Boy Scout program has allowed me to see children grow to maturity; be a factor in helping families overcome serious and minor problems; and more than once swell with pride seeing a young man climb a difficult mountain. Whether it is earning the Tenderfoot Badge or Eagle Badge, the scout and his family are part of a tried and true experiment.


Eighteen-year-old Michael has sought the Eagle Badge since his days as a Cub Scout in Georgia so many years ago. The program emcee was Eagle Scout Michael Worrell. Kyle Ludwig, who was unable to attend, was part of the trio from the Pack 799 Cub Scout Den to matriculate into the elite group of Eagles.


Impressive? Michael Roth is quite a young man. He decided that he wanted to be a successful student, a successful athlete AND an Eagle Scout. His parents, Scoutmaster Deborah Ousse, coaches and pastor knew they had a special young man to lead.

Author's copy of 1948 edition of the Boy Scout Handbook.



Michael sought no handouts, no freebies, and knew it would take his own hard work to achieve his goals. He was raring to go when he “bridged” from Webelos to Scout.


He was a standout sprinter at Urbana High School, running the 4-by-400 relay, and 55-meter and 300-meter hurdles. He can sing “The Grand Old Duke of York” without embarrassment and can tell you the story of how British Gen. Sir Robert Baden-Powell started the Boy Scout Movement in 1908.


Michael is headed to Juniata (Pa.) College on a scholarship. He earned it; it was not a handout. He also will earn his degree(s) and become a “one-percenter,” who makes it possible for the wool gatherers to get food stamps and free cell phones.


Michael Worrell related how he, Michael and Kyle once huddled under a canoe in a driving rain storm, learning the value of the Boy Scout Motto, “Be Prepared.” They canoed to a tiny island in Halliburton, Canada, where an unexpected deluge caught them without ponchos and survival gear. They paddled to base camp in the morning weary and wet, eventually earning the Wilderness Survival Merit Badge. Michael Roth earned 25 merit badges.


With the trio headed to college in the fall, Troop 799 is at another crossroad in leadership and numbers. It was a privilege to appoint Mrs. Ousse scoutmaster in1994, but she is ready to step away this year.  She was the first woman scoutmaster in Frederick County, second in the National Capital Area Council, and has done everything the scouts did, and then some.


I haven’t given in to the thought that Troop 799 could go away; good things can happen in the fall. I’ve seen it before. A boy comes home from school and tells his dad he wants to be a Scout. Soon Dad’s memories rise and he remembers his Boy Scout Handbook and neckerchief and slide are in the attic.


Jim Roth had not been a Boy Scout, admitting he had to go to work as a young teen. When Michael said he wanted to be a Tiger Cub, dad was right on it and has traveled the Eagle Trail with his son. It is an experience that will last a lifetime.—©2012 Norman M. Covert


This appeared in its original format at and is reprinted with permission of the author and The Octopus, LLC.


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