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Feb 6, 2010

Boy Scouts mark 100th: Celebration features fireworks show, music, cake and sparklers

Display location:Cohen Stadium
Date: 7 p.m. Monday.
Show contact:772-2292

EL PASO -- More than 8,400 local Boy Scouts are ready to party. And they've got a lot to celebrate.

The Boy Scouts of America is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. That calls for some fireworks.

El Paso's Yucca Council on Monday will have a family fun event, including a 20-minute fireworks show, at Cohen Stadium.

"We choose to celebrate the 100 years of Scouting the 'American way,' " said John Thilman, Yucca Council executive board vice president and 37-year Boy Scouts of America member. "That includes birthday cake, candles, and -- like any New Year's Eve program -- fireworks, signifying a new century of continuing the Scouting values that the Scouting program was founded on back in 1910."

The Yucca Council also will host its annual Scouting for Food Program food drive, today through Feb. 14. The group's goal this year is to raise at least 75,000 pounds of food for at least 32 area food banks, Thilman said. Last year, local Boy Scouts raised more than 40,000 pounds of food during the annual drive and distributed it throughout the council's territory, which includes El Paso (and outlying areas as far east as Van Horn), Silver City, Deming, Las Cruces, Alamogordo and White Sands.

Lowell Stokes, a former Scout and current den leader, said Scouting has become a family affair. His wife, Christina Stokes, is a Cub Scout pack trainer and his son, Andrew, is a Cub Scout.

"I think (being involved in Scouts has) made all of us get out together and do activities that we probably wouldn't have done otherwise," Lowell Stokes said. "We were so excited this year. Normally we wouldn't go, but we decided to make the (National Scout) Jamboree our family vacation."
Though not yet a full-fledged Boy Scout, Andrew Stokes, 10, already loves the organization.

"It feels good to know that people have been enjoying this for over a few decades and that it also helps a lot of people who don't have very much and the troops who are fighting for our country," Andrew said.

Besides the fun and adventure of Scouting, Lowell Stokes said being involved has also given him a positive outlook.

"It has made me more of an optimist," he said. "I've met so many people that are just really nice people. You read the paper from day to day and get discouraged with society. And then you get in and you meet so many nice people; it's refreshing."

After nine years of volunteering within the group, Tami Gandt, a mother with three Scouts ages 12 to 18, said she also has enjoyed the camaraderie.

"I have met a lot of people that I never would have met before, and there are a lot of nice, good people," Gandt said. "I've also been able to expand my own leadership capabilities as I've done different volunteer jobs."

And the Scouts aren't just for boys anymore. The Scouts' Venturing program is for young adult boys and girls and expands the group's mission on leadership, adventure and hobbies as youth mature.

Gandt's daughter, Malia Gandt, a 16-year-old Venturing Scout and junior at Coronado High School, said the organization offers more than some might realize.

"I think it's really cool, because I'm, in a way, carrying on a legacy," Malia said. "I like being a part of this organization É. The Boy Scouts represent more than what people think and they shouldn't stereotype them. It's an important way for the community to grow and expand to become a community of one."

Jacqueline Armendariz may be reached at; 546-6164.

Make plans

What: Boy Scouts of America 100-year anniversary celebration.

When: Gates open at 6:30 p.m. Fireworks start at 7 p.m. Monday.

Where: Cohen Stadium.

How much: Free.

Information: 772-2292 or

Scouting programs

Cub Scouts: This is the first level of the Scouts, for boys in first through fifth grades.

Boy Scouts: This is for boys who have earned an Arrow of Light Award and are at least 10 years old or have completed the fifth grade, but not yet 18 years old. The organization sets out to achieve the program's objectives of developing character, citizenship and personal fitness.

Venture: This is a youth development program of the Boy Scouts of America for young men and women who are 14 (and have completed the eighth grade) through 20 years of age. Venturing's purpose is to provide positive experiences to help young people mature and to prepare them to become responsible and caring adults.
Source: Boy Scouts of America,

By the numbers

One hundred years of service.

23 million members worldwide; 8,400 in El Paso.

1.2 million national volunteers.

More than 35 million service hours worldwide in 2008.


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