The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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April 28, 2013

Scouts learn search and rescue from pros

Scouts learn search and rescue from pros

— Troop members of the Boy Scouts of America Seneca District this weekend lived up to the national motto “Always be prepared,” especially when it comes to search and rescue during the Spring Camporee.

At Little Beaver State Park, approximately 25 Scouts from Troops 3, 103 and 91 and Cub Scout Troops 466 and 16 learned from the local Civil Air Patrol, an auxiliary of the United States Air Force, how to find lost and injured people in remote areas. After successfully learning the steps and terms associated with search and rescue and completing a live scenario, the Scouts would earn their search and rescue merit badge.

Trey Aliff, senior district executive for the Seneca District of Boy Scouts, explained the Camporee’s focus on search and rescue enabled the Scouts to put to work the skills they learned from research and explanations from local professionals and amateurs. The scenarios performed by the Scouts used maps, grid patterns, first aid, signals for help and ways to ensure a person is safely and successfully removed from the area in which he or she was lost, Aliff said.

“The Boy Scout program itself is focused on helping [members] become well-rounded adults,” Aliff commented. “Being able to respond to any kind of emergency situation is one thing many Boy Scouts pride themselves on.”

Camporees are typically planned to help Scouts earn merit badges, Aliff said; however, most Scouts enjoy the opportunity to get out and camp and enjoy being around friends.

“Most of them love being outdoors,” Aliff said. “It’s not only a chance for them to hang out with friends in their own troop, but with the other troops in the area. This is one of the few times they get to see them throughout the year.”

Nick Bowen, 13, of Daniels, is not only a Boy Scout in Troop 3, but he’s also earned the title of cadet senior airman with the Civil Air Patrol. Bowen had earned his search and rescue merit badge and was assisting the Civil Air Patrol with the scenarios created to help his fellow Scouts learn the search and rescue techniques. Saturday morning, Bowen played a “victim” who had to be found and helped.

Bowen said he plans to become a 20-year member of the U.S. military in the future and thinks membership in the Civil Air Patrol and his Boy Scout membership will help him with his career. He added that after the military he wants to continue service to others as a firefighter, policeman or emergency medical technician, for example, and his search and rescue skills he’s currently learning will be used even further. Even now, Bowen says he thinks he would be prepared to assist with a real search and rescue.

“The two organizations are very similar with the outdoor skills,” Bowen said. “I feel like we should have inter-operability with both because we have similar skill-sets.”

For Bowen, though, “being outside ... and advancing toward the Eagle Scout rank” are his favorite parts of the Camporees, he said.

The BSA Seneca District is comprised of troops from Raleigh, Fayette, Summers, Greenbrier and Pocahontas counties. The Seneca District hosts Camporees three times each year. For more information about Boy Scouts in the Seneca District, e-mail Aliff at jaliff@bsamail.org or call the BSA at 304-340-3663. The Seneca District can also be found on Facebook at Seneca District Buckskin Council WV BSA.

— E-mail: chiggins@register-herald.com

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