For over a century, the Boy Scout and Girl Scout programs have been teaching young people what it means to have self-confidence and self-respect, to help others, and live an upstanding, productive life. As two of the most prominent leadership development programs in the nation, Scouting provides children and teens the opportunity to have fun and experience new things while teaching life skills and fostering a sense of community. We speak with Boy Scouts Pacific Coast District Chairman Stewart Walton and Girl Scouts Carlsbad Service Unit Manager Penny Halverson about the ways these programs are making the world a better place, one troop at a time.
Q&A with Boy Scouts Pacific Coast District Chairman, Stewart Walton
What is the history of the Pacific Coast District? When was it started?
The Pacific Coast District was formed in 2000 from the Tecolote District, but scouting in the North County coastal area goes back at least to the ‘40s. The Ecke Building at the present San Diego Botanical Garden started out life as the Scout Building on the Larabee estate. The District presently serves 1,400 youth in 45 units. Most of the members are boys but Venturing Crews can be co-ed.
What is the overall mission of Boy Scouts?
In my words, we help young people grow into responsible adults by providing fun and challenging activities, with adults serving as guides and models. The official version states, “The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.” The Scout Oath reads, “On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law, to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.”
The Scout Law: “A scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.”
What is your role as district chairman? How long have you been in this role?
The district chairman is a volunteer position; I recruit other volunteers to support scouting and coordinate the overall functioning of the district from recruiting to training to camping. I have been chairman for three years.
Boy Scout Oath
On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.
Boy Scout Law
A scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.
What is the most rewarding aspect of being the district chairman?
Seeing scouts have a great time at a rainy campout, interviewing prospective Eagle Scouts, and listening to former scouts reminisce about their scouting career.
What was your motivation for becoming involved with Boy Scouts?
My sons were interested and I always loved the outdoors. Then I read books about the importance of the outdoors on the development of young men and I got hooked.
What are some of the exciting plans this year for the Boy Scouts involved with the Pacific Coast District?
We are planning a two-day Camporee in the spring to bring all the Boy Scout and Venturing Crew units together in Ramona with games and challenges. One other item is that we are realigning the boundaries of all the Boy Scouts of America districts and the Pacific Coast District will grow to include a larger part of Carlsbad. Those interested in learning more should visit www.beascout.org.
If you could have one wish for the Pacific Coast District’s program this year, what would it be?
I wish for the chance to bring our program to more boys and girls. Most people don’t realize that girls ages 13 to 20 can be part of a high-adventure scouting program called Venturing Crew.
What is the motivation for a boy to become part of a Boy Scout troop?
Make friends, do challenging things, go camping. Have fun.
How does one go about joining a troop? Are there any restrictions as to when someone can join?
Go to www.beascout.org and find a pack, troop, or crew near you. Or ask a scout that you know. You will fill out an application that your parents will sign. The minimum age for Cub Scouts is seven years old or in first grade. For Boy Scouts, the minimum age is 10 years old or in sixth grade. For Venturers, the minimum age is 14 years.
At What age levels can boys participate in the program? Please describe the different levels of Boy Scouts.
There are many different levels including Tiger Scouts, Wolf or Bear Scouts, Webelos Scouts, Boy Scouts, and then older scouts such as Varsity Scouts, Sea Scouts, and Venturers.
Tell us about the significance of the various types of Boy Scout badges.
Merit badges are awarded when the scout has accomplished a standardized set of requirements. Rank badges show a scout’s progress within scouting including such requirements as scouting skills, leadership, and attitude.
Does the Pacific Coast District need volunteers? What is the process for getting involved?
Those interested in volunteering should contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you could describe Boy Scouts in five words, what would you say?
Who knew it’s such fun?
Pacific Coast District, District Chairman Stewart Walton
Name: Stewart Walton
Education: BSEE from Stanford University, M.S. from USC
Hobbies and Interests: Scouting, cycling, camping, reading
Favorite Scouting Memory: Time with my sons and their friends in the Sierras on a quiet lake above the tree line.
Pacific Coast District Boy Scouts
District Name: Pacific Coast District, San Diego Imperial Council
Number of Boy Scouts: 1402
Number of Troop Leaders: 556
Areas Served: Carlsbad to Carmel Valley, and east to Rancho Santa Fe and Fairbanks Ranch
Overall Mission: Help young people grow into responsible adults by providing fun and challenging activities, with adults serving as guides and models.
Q&A with Girl Scouts Carlsbad Service Unit Manager Penny Halverson
What is the history of the Carlsbad Service Unit? When was it started?
The first reported Girl Scout troop in Carlsbad was started in 1943 and had 12 girl scouts. By 1960 that number had grown to 12 troops and 214 girl scouts.
What is the overall mission of Girl Scouts?
Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place.
What is your role as service unit manager? How long have you been in this role?
My role is to oversee the running of the Carlsbad Service Unit (SU) with help from the SU team, to mentor and support troop leaders, help plan events, and help grow the Girl Scout community in Carlsbad. I’m stepping down after nearly three years but will continue to be part of the SU team as registrar.
Girl Scout Promise
On my honor: I will try to serve God and my country, to help people at all times, and to live by the Girl Scout Law.
Girl Scout Law
I will do my best to be honest and fair, friendly and helpful, considerate and caring, courageous and strong, and responsible for what I say and do, and to respect myself and others, respect authority, use resources wisely, make the world a better place, and be a sister to every Girl Scout.
What is the most rewarding aspect of being the service unit manager?
Getting to work with some truly remarkable adult volunteers and watching girls go from being shy and reserved to being confident leaders amongst their peers.
What was your motivation for becoming involved with Girl Scouts?
I was a Girl Guide in South Africa as a child and my mother was a Brownie and Girl Guide in the UK. When my daughter started kindergarten I knew I wanted her to have the same great experiences so I started a Daisy troop. I enjoyed being a leader so much that I started another troop for a friend’s daughter.
What are some of the exciting plans this year for the Girl Scouts involved with the Carlsbad Service Unit?
We have a She & Me Ice Skating event planned for October at the Carlsbad Ice Town. In February there is the multicultural Thinking Day event which is always a highlight. Our annual service unit multi-age level encampment is planned for May 2016.
What is the motivation for a girl to become part of a troop?
There are many reasons: girls may have family members who have been Girl Scouts, some girls join a troop to make friends at a new school, and many girls want to join after meeting Girl Scouts selling cookies. Others want to get outdoors and try new things.
How does one go about joining a troop? Are there any restrictions as to when someone can join?
Visit www.sdgirlscouts.org/join. Once you’ve registered you‘ll be able to search for troops by zip code. Most new troops start in the fall, but you can start a troop at anytime. The easiest way to get your daughter in a troop is to volunteer to be a troop leader or co-leader.
At What age levels can girls participate in the program? Please describe the different levels of girl scouts by grade.
Girls can participate in Girl Scouts from kindergarten though 12th grade. Program levels are based on grade level rather than age: Daisy (grades K through 1), Brownie (grades 2 through 3), Junior (grades 4 through 5), Cadette (grades 6 through 8), Senior (grades 9 through 10) or Ambassador (grades 11 through 12).
Tell us about the significance of the various types of Girl Scout badges.
Girls can earn badges at every program level and also work on Journeys. They are a great way to explore a girl’s interests and learn new skills. They range from earning the Daisy Petals based on the Girl Scout law to financial literacy and business skill badges related to the cookie program. There are outdoor badges like camping and hiking as well as some tech-based badges like Geocaching for Juniors, Netiquette for Cadettes, and Website Designer for Seniors.
Can you tell us a bit about the recent activities of individual troops in the 92009, 92011, 92008, and 92010 areas?
There are several troops in each zip code but a couple highlights are:
92009 – Brownie Troop 1076 camped for the first time, did a bowling outing, went to a play, and did an animal shelter visit where they donated pet toys.
92011 – Junior Troop 1852 created an organic garden at Aviara Oaks Elementary for their Bronze Award Project and traveled to San Francisco to the Bridge to Cadettes ceremony on the Golden Gate Bridge.
Cadette Troop 1157 volunteered for their third year at the Komen 3-Day, helped run the SU Encampment at Winacka, and continued to fundraise for their trip to NYC to bridge across the Brooklyn Bridge in June 2016.
Tell us about some of the recent achievements of your service unit’s members.
We had two girls earn their Gold Award this year. The Gold Award is the highest award in Girl Scouts and less than five percent of Girl Scouts earn it. Lauryn Allen from Troop 1426 developed an art class that she taught at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Carlsbad. Maria Rojas from Troop 1011 formed a Culture Club at the Carlsbad Library to teach kids about countries around the world to reduce stereotyping. We are very proud of them both for making a difference in the community and earning this prestigious award.
Are there any annual or upcoming events in which the Carlsbad Service Unit takes part? How can the local community take part or contribute?
Girl Scout Cookie Sales take place Jan. 24 through March 6 in 2016. Community support is crucial to the success of our hardworking cookie sellers. Girls learn valuable people, business, and financial skills by participating in cookie sales. Troop proceeds from cookie sales make it possible for girls to do fun activities, camp, travel, and fund local community service projects.
Does the Carlsbad Service Unit need volunteers? What is the process for getting involved?
Yes! We are always looking for great people to help out. You can get more info on ways to volunteer at www.sdgirlscouts.org.
If you could describe Girl Scouts in five words, what would you say?
Fun, friendship, service, possibilities, impactful.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Girl Scouts allows girls to do some amazing things and helps them try new things. It’s so much more than cookies and badges – it’s about leadership opportunities, making a difference, and finding your voice.
Carlsbad Service Unit Manager Penny Halverson
Name: Penny Halverson
Education: B.S. from University of South Africa (2002)
Family: Husband – Grant, Golf Instructor at the Aviara Golf Academy; Daughter – Sarah; Son – Ian
Hobbies and Interests: Travel, baking, and watching my kids’ sporting events. I’m also a “Walking Dead” fanatic
Favorite Girl Scouting Memory: Visiting Pax Lodge World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) World Centre in London, England. I did a special pinning ceremony there with my mom and daughter. Three generations of Girl Scouts from three different continents was a first for them!
Carlsbad Service Unit
Service Unit Name: 641 – Carlsbad Girl Scouts
Service Unit Manager: Penny Halverson
Number of Girl Scouts: 521
Number of Troop Leaders: 116
Zip Codes Served: 92008, 92009, 92010, 92011
Website: www.gscarlsbad.org, www.sdgirlscouts.org
Overall Mission: Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. We’re the preeminent leadership development organization for girls.