By Elizabeth Burtner
These are the Bits & Bites of Scout News for September 2023. When a door closes it is often said that a window opens. Well, let in those cool Autumn breezes and savor the great outdoors. Take a walk out among the ever changing Fall colors with a friend. They say where two or more are gathered—Christ is there. So, here's to fellowship!
This month I'm shining the Spot-light on Mr. Dick Barnes. We met around this time in 2008. It was at an Order of the Arrow Meeting at the Newport News Moose Lodge. My son was a Junior at Menchville High School and a new driver. His father had just deployed to Afghanistan. Hence, mom was his two deep in the car and attended meetings with him. Albeit, I was told to sit in the back and keep to myself. Later, Christopher introduced me to Mr. Barnes and the other Leaders. And this is how our acquaintance began.
Let's get to know Mr. Dick Barnes a little better, shall we. He was born and raised in Newport News and grew up in the East End, about a half a block from the "original" Chestnut Avenue Methodist Church. Although he "didn't advance very far" in his own words, to mean in Scouting—which started more than 70 years ago! His memories are a bit fuzzy now but he remembers it was a good-sized Pack and a good sized Troop. They met in the basement of the old church, and recalled that the ceiling was a bit low down there. He can't quite put his finger on why he dropped out, but that's old news—he stated, and continued with , "My philosophy has always been that Eagle is a fine goal, but every Scout benefits from whatever Scouting experience they get. People think that all we do is teach Merit Badges and camping skills. That's part of it, of course; but our real mission is to teach them to make moral and ethical decisions over their lifetime, based on the Scout Oath and the Scout Law."
He was just a little boy at the age of 6 and in the First Grade when he became a Cub Scout in Pack 11. His Den Number escapes him—but his Den Mother was Mrs. Anspach and her assistant was Mrs. Ellis. Chris Zoumplis was the Cubmaster and his assistant was Garland Gib-bons. He specifically remembers Mr. Zoumplis as a favorite leader. And, that he was a good friend with his son, Jerry, and they used to hang out together, all through high school. One of his favorite memories that springs to mind is one of his first camping trips with the Troop as an adult. Keith Gib-bons, Nowell Zoumplis and himself were the adult leaders on the Troops' annual trip for the Methodist Men's gathering at Blackstone. The three of them were packed into a small, leaky tent, with a torrential downpour and near freezing temperatures. And says, Let's just say it was very uncomfortable and we didn't get much sleep!" They stuck it out though, and woke up to a beautiful DRY morning, and had a successful weekend after all. As an adult—he's been involved for over 30 years with Scouting. To think it all began because a lot of his friends were in the Pack and he joined to be with them. Counting his time as a youth, he's now at about 31 years of being with Troop 11. His roles have been doing pretty much everything at one time or another...Committee Member, Committee Chairman, Treasurer, Secretary, Scout-master...the list goes on! He is also a Charter Member of the Wahunsenakah Lodge within the Order of the Arrow, and he has been Chapter Advisor to two different Chapters. He is a Vigil Honor Member, and his Vigil Name is Lilchpin Waletitin, or Diligent Advisor. FYI: the O.A. is the highest honor and I'm in the middle of three levels. His cheerful service also includes serving as a Commissioner and as a member of the District Nominating Committee. A few year back, I must mention that Dick received the Silver Beaver Award—from our Colonial Virginia Council—a very Big Deal! We lost touch for a few years, but met again on November 7, 2013—when I was asked to be the Troop 43 Eagle Candi-dates Troop Representative. Mr. Barnes sat on that District Eagle Board of Re-view. "He loves the fact that there was such diversity in the Eagle Candidates. No two were the same, and all were a pleasure to interview." I wholeheartedly agree. I'm almost at 10 years of sitting on Eagle BoR's now. They're great! Through the years, Mr. Barnes has worked with thousands of young men. Between Troop, District, Council, and the Order of the Arrow, too many to count—has been the total recollected as a men-tor and friend. His favorite comment from a Scout was "you actually listen to us...You treat us like our ideas matter." When I asked, What do you want your Scouting Legacy to be? He replied "That I made a difference in some kids' lives." Oh yes, you made a difference!! In addition to being able to make a difference in a child's life, Dick adds, it's the friends and relationships you form with the other adults in the program—and, that matters, I added. His goal as a Leader in Troop 11 has always been to be a good mentor, to be supportive, and allowing the kids to create their own solutions to their tasks. Keeping the momentum going was especially challenging 3 years ago.
"Many Troops did not survive the Pandemic. We kept the Scouts involved with regular Zoom Meetings and "Merit Badge Classes" as well as "Virtual Campouts." I even camped in my van—as I didn't understand that you were supposed to set up your actual tent and camp at home separately to remain safe and healthy. Oh well, Once again, hoping that life continues along with our ‘new normal' and that the biggest challenge for him now has been ensuring quality, trained adult leaders are available to provide the Scouting Program to the youth. In today's hectic world, people are busy, and the demands of work and family limit the time available for other activities. Dick finds that "it is not as easy as it used to be" to make time to camp to make time to camp nowadays, but—he still tries to keep as active as he can. With his career in electronics, he is quite busy with it. He first served as a technician in the military, and after that, as a technician, technical writer, or manager. And, although this has been his career for about 30 years now, he still makes time for Troop 11 and Scouting. His Vision for 2023-2024 is to continue providing a quality experience to the Boy Scouts. So much has changed since he first got involved with the Boy Scouts...almost too much to enumerate. The basics of the Scouting Program has not changed, but I think there is more emphasis on developing sound leadership skills among the Scouts and encouraging them to think for themselves. And of course; the inclusion of girls in the program was a big change. Even with all the inclusiveness, changes, and scandals Scouting still survives, and is even better than ever for the changes. So there you have it. A man who REVERENTLY Serves—in many, many ways. Thank you for your time Mr. Barnes. You are appreciated!
In closing, I'd like to personally thank everyone who helped me with my "SCOUT NEWS" articles! Too many to name personally. It is my hope that if you've ever been a Girl Scout or a Boy Scout or would like to write an article for Scout News—that you seize the chance. After four years of working to fill Tim Ewing's shoes by writing articles to en-sure that his love of Scouting continued—I feel it's best to step aside now—and allow someone else to accept the task. Please contact Diane Barnes, Dick's wife, at firstname.lastname@example.org, if you are interested.
Thank you once more for the opportunity—and a way to serve others. Stay well my friends on this journey called LIFE and Happy Trails to you too!
Points of Contact for Scouting at Chestnut: