Scouts step it up a notch at annual expo

Published: Saturday, May 17 2014 11:55 p.m. MDT

Bo Lambson is pushed by Jacob Huff in a wooden car Saturday, May 17, 2014, at the Utah Scouting Expo, in the South Towne Expo Center, in Sandy.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

SANDY — Ten-year-old Jarom Ash likes everything about scouting. And he certainly had a lot to choose from at the Utah Scouting Expo of the Boy Scouts of America Great Salt Lake Council on Saturday.

From a BB gun range to go-cart course, knot-tying stations and the traditional rain gutter regatta and pinewood derby races, a putting green to paper airplanes, handmade kazoos and other toys, to rock climbing and a number of trading posts with outdoor and survival equipment, the South Towne Expo Center was a Boy Scout's playland.

But it wasn't just the khaki-clad scouts who enjoyed it.

"I love all of it," said Amy Rodeback, a Scout leader in both her church Scouting program and the non-denominational community unit. She said her two sons are Scouts, but the whole family loves the activities and learning that comes along with earning belt loops and merit badges.

"We're definitely a scouting family. We're big into scouting," Rodeback said. "It teaches good values. They learn how to work as a team, how to respect each other, help others without being asked. It's just a fun way of learning."

The Boy Scout oath encourages participants to do their best, serve God and country, obey the laws and "to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight."

"Some of what scouting teaches you're already doing every day and others are harder to do," said Crystal Ash, Jarom's mom. She said she hopes Jarom and his younger brother enjoy their experience with the program enough that they choose to earn the prestigious Eagle rank someday.

"My great-grandfather was a Silver Beaver, the highest rank you can get," she said.

The expo is open to Scouts and their family members every year, although scouts have the opportunity to earn extra badges and other gear by participating in some of the activities offered at dozens of booths.

"I've made lots of friends in Scouts," said 12-year-old Matthew Watson, of West Jordan. He said he's not always enthusiastic about spending most of his Saturdays at some Scouting function, but he nearly always ends up enjoying it.

"When our son turned 8, we decided we were going to spend the time being volunteers and parents who are involved in Scouting, to give him a better experience," said Matthew's dad, Ben Watson, a Scout leader and council chairman. He estimates he and his wife each spend up to 12 hours a week on Scouting and Matthew attends national Scout leadership training.

"The idea that it helps you be prepared for life is true," Ben Watson said. "No matter what (Matthew) does in the world … he'll have the skills to put into practical application."

Scouting, he said, is much more than learning camping and outdoor survival skills, but touches on every aspect of life.

"As I went through the scouting program, I had phenomenal leaders and learned so much," Ben Watson said. "Those are the things I want him to have — those memories and skills that I still use."

Email: wleonard@deseretnews.com

Twitter: wendyleonards

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