Scoutmaster earns seat at national meeting

Matthew Busch/The Herald
Scoutmaster Fred Feltner of Jasper, left, talked with Boy Scout Peyton Gentry of Jasper, 15, about Gentry’s upcoming Eagle Scout project after Boy Scout Troop 185’s Court of Honor ceremony at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 673 in Jasper on Tuesday. Feltner, who is the scoutmaster for Troop 185, is among 56 leaders nationwide chosen to attend the Boy Scouts of America’s national annual meeting in Grapevine, Texas, later this month.

By JOHN SEASLY
Herald Staff Writer

Fred Feltner was never a Boy Scout himself, but for the last 25 years he has taken an active role in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. For 15 years and counting, he has served as the scoutmaster for Holy Family Boy Scout Troop 185. As a result of his leadership, Feltner has been chosen to represent the Buffalo Trace Council at the Boy Scouts of America’s national annual meeting in Grapevine, Texas.

Fifty-six scoutmasters nationwide have been invited to the event from May 22 to 24, which evaluates current Boy Scouting programs and aims to improve future programs through their example. The invited scoutmasters will be a part of a strategic research plan in which they share their ideas with national leaders and each other.

“That is a very unique experience, to share ideas directly with those who are in a position to make a difference,” Feltner said.

In addition to providing input to the national organization, Feltner will be able to attend a range of elective sessions on Scouting issues like the role of social media, forthcoming merit badges and increasing advancement.

John Harding, Scout executive for Buffalo Trace Council, said Feltner’s honor was well deserved.

“Fred’s a great communicator, and he’s also very empowering for young adults,” Harding said. “We’re glad that he’s willing to share his knowledge.”

Feltner, 65, of Jasper, first got involved with Cub Scouts 25 years ago when his son, Mark, joined the Tiger Cubs in first grade. He spent five years as cubmaster for Cub Scout Pack 185, then, when his son grew older, moved on to work with Boy Scout Troop 185. He became scoutmaster in 1998, and was able to take on the position thanks to his wife, Carole.

“I couldn’t do this if I didn’t have the support of Carole,” he said.

Although Feltner did not take an active role in Girl Scouts, his daughter, Maria (now Sellers), was involved with the organization as an elementary school student.

When Feltner became Troop 185’s scoutmaster, it had 12 Boy Scouts. Every year for the past decade, the troop has had more than 100 Scouts. Feltner attributes the success of the program to dedicated parent volunteers, age-appropriate activities and Venture Crew opportunities for older Scouts.

High school Boy Scouts can join Venture Crew 185, which organizes annual trips like canoeing and fishing in the Boundary Waters in Canada, backpacking at the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico and scuba diving off the coast of Florida. Having a program like this keeps Scouts interested for a few more years, Feltner said, and it keeps them active in Scouting.

Also keeping them active in Scouting, he said, are their fathers.

“The strength of our program is our adult volunteers. We have a very strong group of dads — assistant scoutmasters — 25 to 30 of these men who are really on the front line,” Feltner said.

They are at every camping and Scouting event and Tuesday troop meeting, he added. The involvement of fathers keeps the boys in the troop, and encourages them to advance through the ranks.

Based on the troop’s number of Eagle Scouts, the highest rank in Scouting, the program is working. In Feltner’s 15 years as scoutmaster, 123 young men have attained the Eagle rank; the troop has had 233 Eagle Scouts since its first in 1953.

The greatest reward of working with Boy Scouts, Feltner said, comes from being a part of an important period in boys’ lives.

“It is very rewarding to think that young men are living their lives today based upon things they learned in Scouting as a youth,” Feltner said. “Being able to share what Scouting has to offer has always made me feel that I am accomplishing something very worthwhile.”

Contact John Seasly at jseasly@dcherald.com.




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