Shawn Marler Blazes Trails for NKY Boy Scouts

by Pat Moynahan on April 20, 2016

Troup 1 from Florence on Morrow Ohio canoe trip. (Photo by Tim Lott)

Troupe 1 from Florence on Morrow Ohio canoe trip. (Photo by Tim Lott)

FLORENCE – Ask Shawn Marler about the impact of scouting in Northern Kentucky and he’ll tell you about a fourth grader in Newport and his Boy Scout hatchet.

The youngster walks past gang members and people taking drugs on his way home from school, but he doesn’t carry the hatchet to protect himself, according to Marler. He carries it to identify himself as a Boy Scout.

“I tell them I won’t do (those things) because I’m a Boy Scout,” the youngster told Marler, the Trailblazer District director for the Dan Beard Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

The Trailblazer District covers seven counties in Northern Kentucky with more than 100 different packs. Marler, district director since last July, told members of the Florence Rotary Club at a lunch meeting on Monday, April 11, he hopes to grow the Boy Scouts into the pre-eminent non-profit organization in Northern Kentucky.

“Scouts have a love and fondness for the community,” he said. “They want to get out and make the community better.

“Scouting helps mold the leaders of tomorrow,” he added.

The need for leadership in addressing community problems is not limited to urban communities like Newport, Marler noted. There are just as many problems in the counties in his district.

However, expanding urban and rural scouting programs has been a point of emphasis for Marler in his first 10 months as district director. The district has started a Scout pack in Newport and doubled the funding for Scoutreach, a program designed to provide scouting opportunities for young people in economically disadvantaged communities, he said.

Marler also has doubled the after-school programs in the district in an attempt to give students “a place to go where they have some values.” The objective is to prepare the youngsters to be leaders who accept responsibility and care about causes other than self-interest.

The greatest challenges to growing scouting in the district are persuading schools to get involved and recruiting enough volunteers and organizational partners to expand after-school programs, Marler said.

His recruiting pitch for volunteers is simple. He’s looking for people who work for organizations “that will let you get out of the office, get some vitamin D, cut down trees and set ‘em on fire.”

That’s why they carry the hatchets.

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