Scouting Carnival set for Saturday at Heritage Park in Los Lunas

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Camping and hiking are just a small portion of what Girl and Boy Scouts do.

Scouting develops leadership, community involvement and teaches life skills beyond the classroom, preparing youth for their roles as future leaders of society.

From home cooking to how to fix a flat tire or clear a trail, the Scouts of New Mexico learn a number of skills and build self esteem from their scouting duties.

A special Scouts recruitment event is scheduled from 2 to 4 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 8, at Heritage Park in Los Lunas.

The event is being called, "Scouting Carnival," and will feature face painting, a photo booth, a beanbag toss, boat races, donut bobbing, and other games, said Angela Sparks, mother of six scouts and a veteran scout volunteer.

Boy Scouts starts at Cub Scouts in the first grade, and Girl Scouts goes from kindergarten through 12th grade. All the activities and skills taught are at age appropriate levels.

"The same skills might be taught year-to-year, but they build on the skills each year," Sparks said.

Scouts are involved in such activities as wildlife conservation, rock climbing, community service projects including visiting elders at nursing homes, collecting coats for Joy Junction, helping at animal shelters and horse rescue organizations, fundraising events and traditional camping and hiking.

"It gets kids out from in front of television set," Sparks said.

Parents generally sign their children up for Scouts to provide them physical activities, she said. Scouting also helps youth develop as adults.

"It encourages kids to be good citizens," Sparks said.

Scouting teaches life skills including money and time management, communication skills, home economic skills such as meal preparation and laundry, camping skills such as fire safety, fire building, outdoor cooking skills, trail clearing, fishing, how to put together emergency kits, wilderness survival skills and Scouts can even learn car repair and aviation, Sparks said.

"There once was a time, when we weren't a service-oriented society, maybe back 100 years," she said. "People did things on their own. Every man knew how to change a tire, and every man knew how to do agriculture or split a log, hunt, fish, but any more, with the service society where you can pay people to do these things for you, people don't have to do things on their own. And they are traditional skills that kids think are cool."

Young people like to learn how to check the oil in the car, how to put air in the tires, things that may seem basic or boring to adults, but children like to learn them, she said.

"It gets kids out, doing something different than just sports or sitting in front of a computer or in front of a television set," she said. "But it also teaches them traditional life skills that seem to have been lost, and allows them the opportunity for leadership."

One recent activity the Girl Scouts enjoyed was a visit from Peggy Sanchez-Mills, the CEO of the Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails Council.

"She came to visit simply because we asked," Sparks said, "and because her passion is helping young girls develop into the leaders of tomorrow.

"She captivated the third-grade Girl Scouts of Troop 10080 by encouraging them to follow their dreams … she made each girl feel important as they shared their career dreams and thoughts."

She told them that if there were more girls in leadership roles, there might be more negotiation and peace because by their very nature, women pull people together and build a nurturing society, Sparks said.

The Scouting Carnival will give parents and their children an opportunity to talk to different scouting groups and troops to find out where and when they meet and to sign up.

Annual membership dues are $12 to $15, and there are need-based scholarships available for uniforms and activity costs. There are also fundraising opportunities, in which kids can earn their Scout uniforms, Sparks said.

Youth who stay in scouting have opportunities for college scholarships, and there are careers in scouting as well.

Parental involvement is encouraged, but meetings generally take place after school at the school.

If you are unable to attend the Scouting Carnival and are interested in scouts, please contact the following individuals by phone or e-mail.

Girl Scout troops in Belen, Bosque Farms, Los Lunas visit the website rioabajogirlscouts.org, or email Angela Sparks at sparkstribe2003@yahoo.com, or call 859-948-4844.

Cub Scouts in grades 1-5 serving schools in Belen, Bosque Farms, Los Lunas, Peralta and Tomé can call Ginger Eldridge 869-8525, as well as for Boy Scouts in Belen, Bosque Farms, Los Lunas and Peralta.


-- Email the author at dfox@news-bulletin.com.