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The American Armed Services Continues to Sponsor Scout Units Even Though the Boy Scouts of America Discriminates Against Gay and Atheist Youth and Adults

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Atsugi Naval Air Facility looking for scout leaders

By Juliana Gittler, Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Almost 35 youngsters and teens taking part in scouting groups at Atsugi Naval Air Facility, Japan, could be left without a local club if more leaders aren't recruited soon, leaders say.

The group seeks adult volunteers to lead dens and troops for an hour once a week, or to sit on a business committee that meets monthly. The group will train anyone 18 and older for Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts or 21 and older for Venturers, a high adventure club for 14- to 20-year-olds.

"We're not asking for people to come out and go camping. We're looking for an hour a week to lend a hand," said Navy Lt. James Farrens, a scout leader who is leaving this week.

With Farrens and other leaders planning to leave soon, the scouts won't have enough people to fill leadership requirements. "Our fourth- and fifth-graders are about to lose all their leaders," said Claudia Beltran, committee chairwoman and a den leader. "They're really going to be hurting."

In addition to regular meetings, the groups hold a variety of events throughout the year. They climb Mount Fuji, attend a summer camp and participate in regional activities with other troops.

Right now, leaders say, they're stretched to the limit. "A lot of people are donning double and triple hats to make sure the program stays alive," Farrens said. "We really need more adults because of child protective service rules." The rules require two adults to be present during meetings and events.

Serving with the scouts is rewarding for parents wishing to spend quality time with their kids, scout leaders said,
and sailors can earn promotion points for their service. Beltran said watching children complete projects and learn skills is great. " Not a lot of people," she said, "have time to teach their kids to build a bird house" (one of the recent projects). "We do what we can because of the kids," she said, "but we definitely need help."

Those wishing to learn more about the program and how to volunteer may contact her at DSN 264-6807.

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