By Kevin Wilson
More than 500 boys and girls in Curry and Roosevelt County celebrated a birthday on Tuesday, and the celebration is set to continue the rest of the month.
Tuesday marked the 75th anniversary of Cub Scouts, one of three scouting organizations of the El Llano Grande district, which incorporates the counties of Curry, Roosevelt and DeBaca.
Scott Kilian, the senior executive director of the district, said that between 10 Cub Scout packs (ages 7-11), nine Boy Scout troops (12-18) and 12 Venture Crews (14-21, co-ed) there are 529 members in Roosevelt and Curry County.
About 100 of those members are in Roosevelt County, and the rest are in Curry County — DeBaca County currently has no groups, Kilian said.
Throughout a childhood of scouting, Kilian said the point is to make boys and girls better citizens and better family members as well.
“Character education is a big deal,” Kilian said. “Cub Scouting especially has always been a family-oriented program because parents must get involved. Both sides can really have fun when they get together.”
Cub Scouting members join a Cub Scout pack and are assigned to a den, usually a neighborhood group of six to eight boys, according to the Cub Scouts’ Web site (www.scouting.org). Once a month, all of the dens and family members gather for a pack meeting under the direction of a Cubmaster and pack committee. The committee includes parents of boys in the pack and members of the chartered organization.
Tuesday was also the birthday for Boy Scouts, which is now 95 years old.
Newt Hilliard of Portales is a scoutmaster for Boy Scout Troop 404, which is a little more than a year old. He’s been involved with scouting for about a dozen years.
“For many of the boys, it gives them opportunities outside the household they would not otherwise get,” Hilliard said. “Many of our boys come from socio-economic backgrounds that are less than conducive to what we’d like to produce a citizen for a commuity of the future.”
For Hilliard, it’s a chance to give back.
“I came from a family background that was Norman Rockwell and I had a lot of advantages in life,” said Hilliard, who teaches chemistry at Eastern New Mexico University. “I had a lot of help getting where I am now, a lot of mentors. This is my chance to be a mentor.”
When a boy enters the Boy Scouts, he acquires badges for skills accomplished. More badges mean a scout moves up through one of six ranks. The highest is Eagle, and Kilian said that anybody reaching that rank must have three different citizenship badges.
“We teach citizenship, responsibility, accountability,” Kilian said. “It’s part of the character education.”
The week designated for celebrating the organization birthdays is Feb. 7-12, but Kilian said that celebrations happen throughout the month. On Sunday, for instance, scouts had a Scouting Sunday where they wore their uniform to the church of their choice.
The district’s prime celebration — the 45th annual mulligan stew — will be held Feb. 26 at Oasis State Park. The event is currently open primarily for scouts and their families, but Kilian said district officials have entertained the idea of opening the event to the public in upcoming years.
R.L. Lydick of Clovis has been involved with scouting since the 1950s, and said he has held just about every conceivable position, including as president of the El Llano Grande and Conquistador (Carlsbad) districts. He is currently on the Conquistador Council, which oversees five districts, one of them El Llano Grande.
However, Lydick said that he was never a scout himself.
“I started out in institutional representation (for) the Methodist Church in Carlsbad,” Lydick said. “I got into scouting because I had kids — best thing I ever found for boys and men.
“It’s great satisfaction to see the improvement in boys that the scouting program brings.”